Using all Five Senses in Your Meditation Practice
Sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch—you’ll be amazed how quickly your meditation practice strengthens when you focus on just one sense at a time.
Similarly to how focusing on your breath helps you reconnect to the present, your senses are great meditation tools that can help anchor you and enhance mindfulness. Isolating one sense at a time is kind of like strength training different muscle groups separately so that you’ll be that much more powerful when using them all together.
How to Meditate Using All Five Senses
Sit comfortably on the floor (use a cushion if you need to) with your legs crossed and back upright. You can also sit in a chair with your feet on the floor if that’s more comfortable. Rest your hands in your lap, relax the shoulders, and open the chest. Spend three to four minutes focused on each sense.
With eyes open, focus on any one object that you see around you and notice all the little details you never saw before. Don’t get caught up in any commentary or analysis of what you see. Instead, simply rest your awareness upon your experience for a few minutes. Then close your eyes and visualize what you saw as clearly as you can.
Moving on to your sense of hearing, close your eyes and gently shift your attention to the sounds around you. You may be aware of more sounds than usual. You might notice the unique quality of different sounds. You might even hear sounds from within your own body. Stay focused on these sounds for a few minutes.
Continue to your sense of taste. Experience the taste within your mouth, just as it is right now. If you have a snack on hand, go ahead and take a small bite, noticing all of the flavors and textures that arise. If you don't have food, just notice your tongue in your mouth, your saliva, and your breath. The actual sensation doesn’t matter, but be aware of whatever it is that you sense, even if it is a neutral one. If you catch yourself analyzing the taste, gently come back to simply sensing it for what it is.
Isolate your sense of smell next. Once you bring your awareness to it, you may notice you smell something specific, or something neutral. Perhaps your neighbor is cooking lunch, or you lit incense before your session. Maybe you haven’t dusted in a while. It doesn’t matter what you smell, as long as you stay open to and aware of your aromatic experience.
Lastly, let your attention shift to the sense of touch. Pay attention to whatever sense of touch comes into your awareness — the breeze of the fan, your body in contact with the hardwood floor, the warmth of the sun on your face, or your clothes draped against your skin.
When your time is up, gently open your eyes, and be mindful as you enter back into the world.