A Grounding Exercise using the senses: Five minutes of mindfulness, can help you slow your breathing, slow your heart-rate, and stop you feeling overwhelmed. It can also just allow you to get a bit of headspace. It’s not going to solve the problems on your to-do list, but you’ll probably feel better equipped to deal with them. Five minutes is all you need to engage your senses and get a foothold on your day. Keep a clock handy or just estimate or you can set the timer on your phone and it might start like this:
Step 1. Sit in a comfortable upright position with your feet planted flat on the ground. Rest your hands on your thighs or on your desk. Start by noticing all your senses sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing, one at a time, for a minute each. Bring awareness to them and begin to focus on them one at a time. Breathe: taking some deeper refreshing, comfortable and even breaths. Don’t worry about technique, just allow relaxing breaths to enter deeply and exhale fully.
- Sight: Bring your attention to what can you see, notice the colours, shapes and textures of your surroundings. If you really look, just about everything has colour variation and texture that may have gone unnoticed. How many shades of blue or red? Any colour missing? Take in all the colours. Now close your eyes.
- Smell: Breathing in and out a little deeper, again shift your focus to noticing the smells of your environment. Is somebody cooking lunch in your building? Can you detect the electronics smell of your computer or fresh air coming in through your window? Keeping your eyes closed so you can focus on the subtlest of scents.
- Taste: Notice your tongue in your mouth, your saliva, and your breath as you exhale. Most of us have tastes in our mouth at all times. Run your tongue over your teeth and cheeks- what do you notice? Keep breathing, taking two or three deeper in breaths and outbreaths.
- Touch: Keeping your eyes closed if you can. Where did you place your hands when you first started this exercise? Notice the sensation of where your hands meet something solid like the fabric of your clothes or the surface of your desk. Notice the pressure between your feet and the floor. Try feeling the textures that you noticed by sight a moment ago. To fully ground yourself in the room and bring the exercise to a close, feel several objects on your desk and perhaps even stand up from your chair to bring energy and sensation to all parts of your body.
- Hearing: Begin to relax by just noticing all of the sounds around you. Give yourself permission to suspend your judgment of the sounds. They are not good or bad, they just are. Are you now hearing more than you were before you started? Subtle sounds may have previously gone unnoticed. Can you hear them now? Remember your steady breaths while you are listening.
- Time is up. How do you feel now? Are you back in the moment and back in your body? Compare how you feel now with how you felt 5 minutes ago- what has changed? Try this exercise next time you’re feeling trapped in the current of the day.