The 5 senses grounding technique is a gift for anyone who’s ever felt anxious or stressed. When thoughts are spiralling out of control making you breathe faster and causing your palms to sweat, try this quick and effective exercise.
First, let’s take a brief look at how the physical senses can calm the nervous system.
Did you know the pathway from the brain to the body is a two-way street?
In effect, we can connect to our five senses in order to send a message through the nervous system to the brain. Hand-in-hand with mindful breathing, this can be an effective way to take control of our thoughts and manage stressful situations.
So, let’s get stuck in and awaken our senses!
Eyes wide open
The first step to awakening our senses is to notice five things that you can see. Look far away or nearby – it really doesn’t matter. The key is to see each object fully. Absorb the shape, size and texture of what you see. Let the eyes do all the work.
Now, it’s time to connect to the physical body with the sense of touch. Without moving, become aware of four things that you can touch. In fact, you might already be touching them without realising it. For example, your clothes, the surface you’re sitting or standing on, the air at the tip of your nose or even your own hands resting on your body.
Next, open yourself to the sensation of sound. What three things can you hear? For the best connection to your sense of hearing, it might be more effective to close the eyes. Since we are visual creatur’es, we can easily become distracted by images. But, now is the time to just listen whilst resisting the urge to label each sound.
Follow your nose
By this point, you might already be feeling calmer – maybe not. Either way, take a breath in through the nose and notice two things that you can smell. In the case that your sense of smell isn’t particularly strong, just notice any aromas that are present even though you might not be able to give them a name.
Finally, bring your attention to the tongue inside the mouth and notice your sense of taste. What is present? Again, it’s not necessary to label the taste as sweet, sour, bitter or salty. Rather, just direct all of your awareness to the sensation.
Now that you have connected to all five senses, take a moment to sit or stand in stillness and notice how you feel. It is likely that your breath has become slower and more steady. This 5 senses grounding exercise can be effective at any time and in any situation without others being aware that you are practising the technique.
Put it into practice.
To see how the 5 senses grounding technique can be used in your yoga practice, check out my 20-minute ‘Yin to Awaken the Senses’ yoga class on YouTube.