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How to Use Mindfulness to Wake Up Your Senses and Discover Wonder

We can use our bodies' five senses to become more empathetic and compassionate toward ourselves and others.

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Your five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching – can help you discover the wonder around you. Anytime and anywhere you pay attention to your body’s senses, you may find something that sparks awe in your soul.

Just think of an awe-inspiring time you recently spent in nature. As you reflect, you can likely identify some way you found wonder through one of your senses. Perhaps it was the sight of stars in the night sky, the sound of birds singing, the smell of a rose, the taste of a fresh apple, or the touch of rain falling on your skin. Research shows that when people use their senses to explore nature, they can experience awe as a result.

Through the simple act of focusing on one of your physical senses, you may encounter profound wonder. Here are some mindfulness practices to wake up your senses so you can wake up to the wonder around you:

Seeing

* Take a wonder walk in nature and be alert to sights that inspire you – from a towering tree to a colorful sunset. Document those sights by taking photos, recording a video, or drawing an illustration of them.

* Online, research one of your favorite types of art, and enjoy browsing through the creative artwork you discover. Ponder what feelings the art evokes in you. Consider sharing the experience with a friend or family member, and discussing the art together.

* Look through old photos of yourself from different stages of your life – from your childhood until now. Reflect on how you’ve changed over the years and what hopes you have for your life moving forward. Then look at yourself in the mirror and ask God to help you see yourself as he sees you: someone who is dearly loved.

Hearing

* Sit outside for 15 minutes and quiet your mind. Listen to the sounds around you and notice what you hear that inspires you: wind blowing through tree leaves, someone laughing, thunder, etc.

* Walk through your house for 15 minutes, searching for several different types of sounds that spark wonder in you: a carbonated drink fizzing, a fire crackling, or even your own breathing as you inhale and exhale.

* Listen to several different genres of music (rock, jazz, country, classical, etc.). As you listen, try to identify each of the various musical instruments in each song. Sing or dance along when you’re moved to do so. Consider how music is a universal language that connects all people.

Smelling

* Buy a few different varieties of candles. Then light each one and consider what wondrous memories those scents bring to mind. One candle may remind you of baking cookies with your grandparents growing up. Another may help you remember an awesome experience you had on a beach vacation.

* Go outside after a rainstorm and savor the refreshing fragrance of the air after it has been cleaned by rain. Take some deep breaths and say a breath prayer (a word or short phrase that you can express in the time it takes you to breathe in and out once).

* Eat your next meal slowly, so you have time to enjoy the aromas of your food – from the pungent scent of cheese to the rejuvenating scent of lemon.

Tasting

* The next time you go grocery shopping, buy a few types of food or drinks that you’ve never tasted before. Try them at home and savor the myriad of flavors. Let yourself be inspired by the creativity of trying new snacks, meals, and beverages.

* Learn about diverse world cultures by tasting their cuisine. Do some research on nations that intrigue you. Then order carryout from different ethnic restaurants that feature food from those nations. Share fun facts you’ve learned about international cultures with your family as you eat together.

* Cook a new recipe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner one day. While you’re eating each of those meals with others in your household, discuss what you each like and don’t like about how the food tastes.

Touching

* Touch one of your hands to your chest and feel your heart beating. Consider what a gift it is to be alive. Let your gratitude motivate you to be kind to yourself and others.

* If you have a cat or dog, spend a few minutes enjoying petting its fur. Reflect on how that experience helps you feel your pet’s unconditional love for you in a tangible way.

* Walk barefoot through your home and notice the different sensations of you feel as your feet touch various kinds of floors. As you feel diverse textures and temperatures, ponder how you can gracefully walk through the variety of situations you have on your calendar for the upcoming week.

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