The mind and body link has been well established. We can effectively use our body to anchor ourselves in the present. Breath, body and our senses are excellent tools, which can help us anchor in the moment! Human beings are blessed with five predominant senses – vision (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinaesthetic (touch), olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste). We carry these with us 24/7 and the good news is we can train ourselves to use our sensory perceptions on purpose to ease the distress arising from the negative experiences. You can bring your attention to all these senses consciously, building into your routine whilst at work or at home. This in turn will lead to enhanced satisfaction and more fulfilled life. Living life moment by moment means developing awareness of the moment and everything arising in that particular moment. Awareness of our surroundings externally as well as awareness of our intentions, emotions, judgements, thoughts and feelings. Both pleasant and unpleasant.
Self-awareness gives insight into our strengths and personal skills we can draw on, optimising our potential. It makes us aware of the need to change certain things. It trains our mind to assess what needs changing or what is working and needs retaining. We become more aware of life’s stressors and our emotional responses from within. Inner engineering enhances awareness of our own habits- both good and bad, the ones you wish to nurture and the others you are willing to drop. It also makes us aware of our behaviours and actions which are not serving any purpose. These may be heightened anxiety, irritability, feeling edgy, snappy, harsh, angry or withdrawn. The thoughts that are holding you back. The recurring negative thoughts critiquing, judging, blaming; self or others are our worst enemy. The mind generates these by going over and over certain incidents or social interactions. They keep popping within minutes, hours, days or even years after certain event has taken place. Our inner dialogue kicks in as soon as somebody says something at work, at home, or in a social setting. When a friend or someone you know passes a comment good or bad, we go over it several times in our mind. The mind provides endless supply of thoughts over their opinion, particularly the ones we don’t like. It may be around certain behaviours, habits, appearance or simply over clothing. Soon the mind gets caught up in a chain of thoughts to the point that we start having a conversation with this person in our head or what you are going to say to this person when you see them next or what your next action would be!
And you aren’t even aware of it!
Mindfulness awareness brings our mind in the ‘being mode’, which is associated with a calmer state of mind reducing stress, anxiety, distress, irritability and also alleviating self-confidence and self-esteem. One of the effective ways of grounding in the moment is through our senses. Where you are sensing, experiencing and feeling each moment through our five senses. We can enhance the satisfaction of life’s experiences by focusing on vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste. It helps bring our mind out of the ‘doing mode’ grounding ourselves in the ‘being mode’!
We can enhance our tactile perception through not merely by touching the objects but also by seeing and feeling different objects in depth. Try focusing on the tactile sensation when you reach for your phone. Does it feel hard, soft, warm or cold? Try feeling the texture, notice the colour, make, size, shape, and temperature etc of each object next time you are at work, at your desk or in the kitchen cooking a meal. Breaking down further – how do various objects feel varying from soft to firm to hard? Focus on the feel and sound of various objects e.g fabric feels and sounds different to objects made of wood, plastic, glass or metal along with their varying temperatures. Wooden and plastic objects feel warmer to touch and sound muffled whereas metallic objects are louder and feel cooler. While gardening focus on various sensations – the feel of soil may be different to the feel of various gardening tools or the feel of flowers, which may not be same as the leaves or plant. And while cooking notice the feel of various ingredients, colour of different veggies, the shape and make of pots, spoons, crockery and bring your attention to the mouth-watering aromas emanating from various spices and herbs.
Our five senses can be an effective anchor for grounding, though countless distractions of modern living are promoting haste and making people somewhat impatient diminishing our attention span and also reducing our ability to experience the sensory perceptions to the fullest. So go on use your five senses to make your daily tasks interesting and joyful. And when the mind generates innumerable excuses telling you are too busy or what a waste of time it is simply follow the rule of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, whilst performing any task or when feeling overwhelmed. Say it out loud or quietly bring your attention to 5 objects you can see in the vicinity, focusing in details on their colour, make, texture, size, shape etc. 4 sounds you can hear, which may be outside traffic, people talking, noises of pets or notice the sounds nearby such as a ticking clock, or humming of an air-conditioning or computer. 3 different objects you can feel. Find 2 objects with fragrance and lastly taste something. If you don’t have anything edible at hand just open your mouth and feel the refreshing cool air.
May 2023 bring peace and optimism!
Dr Suchita Karthik
Mind In Sight Leeds,
Mindfulness practitioner, Teacher
Lifestyle Medicine Advocate,