Monday Dose of Mindfulness: 5 Senses Exercises

The subject of today’s Monday Dose of Mindfulness post is a mindfulness exercise for shifting attention to each of the five senses. This exercise is a way to ground you in the present moment by shifting attention to both internal and external stimuli. You will spend about one minute focusing on each of your five senses. Focus on one sense at a time before moving on to one of your other senses. This five minute exercise can be done anywhere, making it easier to devote part of your day to practicing mindfulness. The order of the senses does not matter; what is important is that you try to fully focus on only one sense at a time before moving on.




As with all exercises, the more you practice it, the more effective it will become, as you will be more familiar with how to do it and you will also have made progress enhancing your mindfulness skills through repeated practice.


*Reminder: If your attention begins to wander at any point during this exercise, remember that this is completely normal. Simply note it and, without judgment, try to intentionally shift your attention back to the present moment.



Sit in a comfortable position. Start by shifting attention to your breath through enhancing awareness of the inhale and exhale. Follow the prompts below to bring awareness to each of your 5 senses, one at a time, for about one minute each.

VISION: Begin by looking at the environment around you. Notice colors, shapes, and textures. Try not to label what you see; just observe with curiosity. As you continue to observe your surroundings, you may begin to notice things that you hadn’t previously seen.

TOUCH: Now bring your attention to the physical sensations of your body in contact with your clothing, the surface you are sitting on, and the floor beneath your feet. Notice the pressure between your body and the chair, or your feet and the floor. Observe any sensations on the skin from the movement of the air around you, or it’s temperature.

HEARING: Shift your attention to notice the sounds around you. Try not to judge the sounds; just notice them. You may observe sounds that seem close by, like the sound of footsteps or voices in a nearby room. Other sounds may seem more distant, like the sound of traffic or the chirping of birds. You may notice the sounds of your own breathing. Take note of whether you are now hearing more than you were before.

SMELL: Consider closing your eyes to help sharpen your attention to notice the smells in your environment. You may be able to detect the smell of food. If you are outside, you may notice the smell of freshly cut grass or nearby plants. Some smells may be very subtle, like the smell of an unlit scented candle or the lingering smell of someone’s perfume or cologne. Are you noticing any smells that previously went unnoticed?

TASTE: Bring awareness to your mouth. You can tune into your sense of taste even if you don’t have a mint, gum, or any food in your mouth. You may be able to observe an aftertaste of a recent meal or beverage. Running your tongue over your teeth and cheeks may help you become more aware of any tastes in your mouth that have gone unnoticed. If your are having difficulty observing any tastes, then simply notice the sensations of your saliva and your tongue in your mouth.

After observing each of your five sense, take a moment to pause and notice how your body feels in this moment. Do you observe any changes in how you feel compared to before starting this exercise? If so, describe what has changed.