Gather your group to sit in a circle at their desks or find a space on the floor.
Announce that you will soon lead them through a brief exercise to help them reflect on the present moment using their five senses.
Follow the prompts provided in the sample script (see Resources tab.)
Facilitate the activity step by step, making adjustments according to the needs of your group.
Conclude the meditation by gently inviting your group back.
If desired, invite your group to reflect on their experience in pairs or in a group.
How To Play Narrative
Bringing our awareness to the present moment is a way of practising mindfulness.
Mindfulness has many proven benefits, both to our mental and physical wellbeing. It helps us live happier, more fulfilled lives. And a great way to practice mindfulness is to focus on our five senses— sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.
In advance, you will want to review and download the sample script located in the Resources tab.
Begin by inviting your group to get comfortable in your space. Then it’s as simple as gently guiding your group through the easy step-by-step instructions that you read to them.
It may be helpful to paint a picture of what they could be experiencing as you guide them through the activity.
When ready, it’s a great idea to invite your group to reflect and share what they experienced with others, in pairs, small groups or as a whole group.
Practical Leadership Tips
Do not stress if you find it difficult to always come up with something that you hear, smell, feel, see, and taste. Some senses are easier (and more obvious) to observe than others. Try your best and list as many as you can.
Remind your group that mindfulness is a practice— the more we do it, the easier and more comfortable it gets.
You could integrate Come To Your Senses as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to understand and manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours in different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
This activity is ideal for building mindfulness practices. Use it at those times when you need to re-focus your group or to help them become aware of what’s happening around them.
Come To Your Senses is also a wonderful activity to present when you are exploring the Be Here element of a full value agreement and practising strategies to build resilience and emotional intelligence.
The primary goal of an exercise like this is to calm or regulate the nervous system. Research has shown that the more people earnestly practice calming and meditation exercises, the more they begin to discover that it has a positive impact on their overall wellbeing.
Note, just like running is one form of physical exercise, mindfulness should be considered just one form of meditation. So be sure to mix it up a bit and not use the same exercise every time. Refer to the You Might Also Like tab for related ideas.
Single Focus: Choose to focus on one sense in a single session, eg hearing.
Meditation Combo: Present this exercise as a lead-in activity for Drawing Breath or Inner World Art to leverage your group’s creative energy. In conclusion, use the artwork to help your group reflect on their experience.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
This activity and its script can be presented virtually. To help you squeeze the most out of this exercise online, here are some things to consider:
– Let your group know that they can switch off their webcams if they feel more comfortable participating in this way.
– Ask everyone to switch off their phones or put them on silent.
– For the purposes of reflection, invite your group to use the chatroom to describe their emotions instead of speaking into the microphone.
Powerful & simple relaxation exercise for all groups.
Series of simple visualisations that promote relaxation.
Purposefully reflective experience for individuals.
Useful Framing Ideas
Being present in each moment can be arguably the most important thing you practice to support your wellbeing. With all of life’s distractions, this is a great tool that can help keep you grounded and focused. We are conditioned to focus on everything else other than this moment as our brains are pulled in multiple directions. This affects our mental and emotional health, our capacity for what we can handle, our relationships, and our overall sense of well-being. Here’s an activity that could help you focus on this moment…
We all feel anxious and fearful at times, the key is how you handle these moments. This next exercise will help to support your fears and anxiety and shift your focus to the present moment…
Focusing on sensations, such as what you see or taste, is an easy tool to practise mindfulness and feel grounded in the present moment to invite a sense of calm. This is important because if you are always focusing on what is happening around you and living in your head, you will never be able to appreciate what the present moment has to offer you. Allow me to lead you on a journey of discovery…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after leading this gentle mindfulness activity:
Which senses were the easiest to focus on?
Which senses were the most difficult?
Did you find that focusing on your senses helped you feel calmer, less anxious?
How did you feel before and after the activity?
Which senses did you enjoy focusing on the most? Why?
What stuck out to you the most about this activity?
Did anything surprise you during the activity?
Did this exercise challenge you in any way?
Do you think this exercise could be useful if practised regularly in your daily life?
The inspiration for Come To Your Senses was sourced from Lisa Hughes and the Five Senses mindfulness exercise from the University of Vermont Medical Center.