Yesterday, I talked about choosing a broader perspective. To assist in that endeavor, below are three exercises you may find effective and can be done anywhere. While I recommend you explore each of them, you may find that one resonates with you more than the others.
Each exercise can be as long or as short as you choose. While longer is better, even a 2-5 minute exercise can quite effectively ground you. While I prefer and suggest these exercises outdoors when possible, any setting is perfect for conducting them.
- Allow your gaze to slowly scan and take in everything in your field of vision.
- Scan again, looking even deeper and taking in colors, textures, plays of light, patterns.
- Avoid judgement. If you’re in your house, don’t stop and think, “Wow, I need to clean.” Just notice the details that make up your surroundings: material the walls, floor, furniture are made of; hidden shapes such as circles in the wooden floor or triangles in the pattern of upholstery, etc.; the curl of a particular leaf; the colors of a nearby bird; the shades of green of various plants; etc.
- Allow your vision to notice yourself. Your hands, arms, feet, legs…see as much of yourself as possible.
- It may be helpful to close your eyes to avoid distraction, but it is not necessary. Focus solely on your auditory perceptions. Do you hear birds, insects, frogs, wind? Perhaps the nearly silent hum of electricity, the refrigerator, a faucet dripping?
- Broaden your auditory perception farther away from you. Can you hear into another room? Outside of the house? If you are outside, can you hear down the street? Or crows calling from a field away?
- Zoom back to your most immediate surroundings. Notice the wind in your ears. The rustle of your clothes. Your footsteps crunching on leaves or rocks. If indoors, notice the sounds of your chair as you shift your weight. The movement of others in the room. A fly buzzing around. The whir of a ceiling fan.
- Zoom in closer and notice the blood pumping in your ears; the sound your hands make as your rub them together; the scratch of your nails on your leg; your rumbling belly. Continue exploring with the sounds of your physical self.
- Try this one with your eyes open and shut. Play with the effects of touch alone and of touch accompanied with sight and sound. Rather than exploring farther away, use your sense of touch to focus on everything within reach.
- Touch trees, leaves, grass, noticing the variations of textures of different species. Feel the tickle of a dragonfly landing on your arm. If you can be barefooted, scrunch your toes in the dirt, sand or mud. Or snow, if you’re brave. If indoors, feel the upholstery against your legs and under your fingertips. Rub your bare feet across the carpet or bare floor, noticing the texture and temperature. Run you hand along the wall and notice the texture, a wall hanging your hand may drag across, a door jamb you bump into.
- Bring your awareness to your physical body. Feel the movement of your clothes as you walk, the stretch of your shirt across your shoulders, the tightness of your laced shoes. Notice a tickle on your arm, an itch on your back, a tiny prick of pain on your left shin.
Each exercise brings three important awarenesses:
- An increased awareness of your surroundings, whether visual or auditory or kinesthetic.
- An increased awareness of your physical body and its sensations.
- AND an increased awareness of yourself in your surroundings.
If you have the time to practice all three exercises in the same session, you will achieve the utmost awareness, which brings with it a rich feeling of aliveness. These exercises are especially helpful for grounding; for calming upset; for easing the stresses of the day and they are a fantastic way to start the day to then move forward with purpose and confidence.