If you enjoyed the previous outdoor meditation (see previous post on Hacking The Benefits Of Meditation), and would like to expand your outdoor practice, the following steps can help guide your sensory experience. This sensory meditation is focused on the five senses: touch, sight, sound, smell and taste. It is also a useful practice for writing or creativity in general. You might want to bring a journal with you to note down your observations.
To begin, start with a body scan to bring your attention in wards (see previous post). Once you have brought your attention back to your surroundings. Expand your focus to the world around you and pay attention to the five senses, spending 2 to 3 breaths on each. Start with:
1. Touch: Notice what areas of your body are making contact with the ground. What does it feel like? It is rough, smooth, or perhaps a combination of both? Note the first thing that pops into your head. Continue to be aware of your breath as you do this.
2. Sight: Notice the ground, the landscape, and the sky. Take a mental note of any colors, movement, or stillness. Then come back to your breath before moving on to the next sense.
3. Sound: What sounds can you observe? If you’re in the city perhaps it’s the sound of sirens, people in the streets, cars honking. If you’re in a park perhaps it’s a gust of wind, whistling leaves, or chirping birds. Note three or four observations and move on.
4. Smell: What does it smell like? Notice any aromas, freshly cut grass, coffee, or the smell of honey-roasted nuts from a nearby vendor in the park. Breath in deeply to take notice. If you can’t smell anything just take a couple of breaths here and move on to the next sense.
5. Taste: If you’ve just had a meal or a snack, notice what tastes, if any, linger in your mouth. Perhaps you haven’t had anything to eat and your mouth feels dry. Note the first thing that comes to mind.
6. Now shift your attention to how you feel in your own body and how it feels to be where you are at this very moment. Take a quick note of what comes up, and then bring your awareness back to your breath. Leaving aside any thoughts from earlier. Take a deep breath in, and an even deeper breath out. Repeat this twice, closing your eyes on the final breath. Slowly blink your eyes open.
Note: This practice can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes. You can always start with a short practice to begin with and extend for longer next time. Try to spend an equal amount of time on each sense and remember to keep coming back to your breath to stay focused.
Written by: Leona Tan