#Askingforafriend: Sensory mindfulness

January 26, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

By Elizabeth Kendall
GCU Office of Student Care

Have you ever turned down the music in the car because you needed to see better? Although it sounds silly, our brain wants this to happen because it understands that vision is needed more than other senses at that time and sends a signal to reduce other stimuli.

Once that hyper focus has helped get the job done, intentionally reconnecting to our senses prepares us for the next time it’s required to concentrate, and it still helps us relax in the meantime.

You can practice reconnecting to your senses in many ways and places because you have the tools right at your fingertips.

When you notice yourself zoning out, your situational awareness is diminishing, and your mind and body naturally have a weaker connection. To battle this, try this technique during a class or meeting: Identify five things you can see, four things you can physically feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing that you can taste.

During this exercise, you may stop and try to describe the different identified objects. Is the air conditioning that you hear a high-pitched whine or low rumble? Can you feel the different parts of the chair when you lean your back on it? If you can’t taste anything, what does your mouth feel like?

Be proactive by planning the steps to reconnect with each sense now so you have a plan in your back pocket. Identify one item for each sense that brings you pleasure, something you can access and engage within a minute.

An example of this would be putting lotion on your arms (touch), looking at an HGTV house renovation before-and-after pictures (visual), listening to the chorus of “Humans” by The Killers (auditory), lighting the candle that smells like caramel candy (olfactory) and using mouthwash to feel fresher (taste).

This may need to be updated periodically – your pleasure received from certain activities may fade. This is normal and gives you an opportunity to explore other stimuli that make life richer for you.

Overall, seek out multisensory experiences. Explore nature, take up painting, make up a new dance routine, cook a recipe you’ve been thinking about – all these hands-on activities will demand your attention to your senses.

And when you’re engaged in the activity, be mindful of the birds and wind around you, the vibrant, warm colors on the page, your feet as they hit the ground with the beat and the savory aroma and taste of your meal.

Gaining awareness of our surroundings now, when we’re not feeling stressed, will prepare us for the moments when our hyper focus is switched on. Start practicing – the present really is the time to stop and smell the roses.

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