The five senses – Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Touching, and Tasting – represent our earliest sensory experiences in the world. Yet how often do we really pay attention to what these critical pathways are telling us?

More often than not, we allow them to become dulled by the constant distractions present in modern life. We forget how powerful our senses are, and we lose touch with the ability to fully perceive the wholeness of our existence.

Therefore, the five senses can be a great focal point for basic meditation practice, or as a warm-up before any more traditional meditation.

You may want to begin in a sitting position, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths (five sounds like a good number, doesn’t it?), and begin gently – calling to attention each sensory window, going one experience at a time.

Listen – let the sound of your environment (or lack of sound) call you to the present moment. Let each moment’s passing reveal some new element you may not have ordinarily noticed. Reflect, breathe, and move forward.

Look – open your eyes and carefully note the colors, shapes and textures that surround you. What areas of movement or areas of stillness attract the eye? Reflect, breathe, and move forward.

Smell – close your eyes again and breathe in through your nose, absorbing fully the scent of your surroundings. Observe which sensations feel like natural smells and artificial smells. Reflect, breathe, and move forward.

Touch – you can hold a small object such as a stone or meditation mala, or you can simply reach forward and touch the earth. Let the feeling of “touching” tether you to the environment, connecting you with the physical reality of your existence. Reflect, breathe, and move forward.

Taste – whether you taste, air, water, an item of food, or the back of your hand – find a way to awaken the most intimate sense, and observe how the experience gives insight into the inner portion of your being. Reflect, breathe, and move forward.

By frequently calling to attention and sharpening the senses before and during meditation, we may learn to reconnect with our bodies, reconnect with the sensations of the present moment, and better understand the gift of life that we experience with each rise and fall of our breath.