“Refuge to the man is the mind, refuge to the mind is mindfulness.” -Buddha
A healthy body begins with a healthy mind, and a healthy mind begins with mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Simply stated, it is our ability to pay attention to the present moment, with curiosity and without judgment.
Practicing mindfulness has several benefits including increased empathy and compassion, improved immune functioning, increased happiness and optimism, improved sleep, greater focus and concentration, and reduced anxiety and stress.
There are various ways to practice mindfulness including, but not limited to, meditation and bringing attention to our daily activities.
The Five Senses Exercise
One example of a mindfulness exercise is called the Five Senses Exercise. The goal is to calm your mind by using your five senses to focus on your environment instead of your thoughts.
Here are the steps to complete this exercise:
- First, notice 5 things that you can see. Look around you and become aware of your environment. Try to pick out something that you don’t usually notice.
- Second, notice 4 things you can feel. Bring attention to the things that you’re currently feeling, such as the texture of your clothing or the smooth surface of the table you’re resting your hands on.
- Third, notice 3 things that you can hear. Listen for and notice things in the background that you don’t normally notice. It could be the birds chirping outside or an appliance humming in the next room.
- Fourth, notice 2 things you can smell. Bring attention to scents that you usually filter out, either pleasant or unpleasant. Catch a whiff of the pine trees outside or food cooking in the kitchen.
- Finally, notice 1 thing you can taste. Take a sip of a drink, chew gum, or notice the current taste in your mouth.
Victoria Schmidgall is a student intern with The University of Vermont Medical Center Community Health Improvement team. She does personal research and designs service projects based on community needs.