Using one of our 5 senses to “pause” our restless mind
Description of this short mindfulness on-the-go exercise:
Several times a day, pause, pick one of your 5 senses such as vision, hearing, touch, taste or smell and then, pay attention , at this precise moment, to a selected target. The mind/brain, being very sensitive to our 5 senses, has no other choice but to comply. You are pressing the pause key by shortening the circuits of our restless mind. By doing so, you will discover what you are failing to notice all day long.
Most of the time, the process is reversed because our attention is always dictated by what our mind is thinking. We are, as Zen says, on mind-made auto-pilot or automatic physical and mental behavior.
What are we ignoring?
Beside our obvious tasks such as driving, working, typing, calculating, listening to someone, etc., how often do we actively pay attention to what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell? Almost never because we are on mind-made autopilot doing things automatically or day dreaming . How often do you feel the ground while walking? How often do you pay attention to the sounds around you, to what you see or feel , smell around you?
Blocking subconsciously these countless sights, sensations, and sounds inputs coming from our 5 senses to our brain is obviously essential when we need to focus on a specific task to complete. Life will be impossible w/o this automatic shield. However, all that sensory automatic blocking or shield takes a lot of energy even w/o knowing it. How?
Our brain is programmed to compute and analyze continuously all external stimuli’s coming from our 5 senses. We talk here about Gigabits of data that our brain has to swallow every hours.
However, again, we are not conscious of this process otherwise thinking and acting would be impossible. There is some sort of subconscious shield preventing us from being aware of this ongoing process.
Suppose now that you are able to erase and let go this subconscious shield and open-up your awareness to all these stimuli that are surrounding you all the time.
It is like creating a short in the bio-electrical circuits of our cramped and restless brain.
You are lifting this protective shield and become more open to your surrounding world.
In fact, you become one with your surrounding instead of being a separate living entity within it…
How to do it?
As stated before, it can be done using any of your sensory receptors, depending on the situation and time allocated.
The more effective receptors to practice are, in my view, your sight and your hearing because the brain is extremely receptive to their inputs.
Open-up one of them with full attention and a new world will reveal to you. By doing so, even for few seconds, even 1 minute, you are forcing your brain/mind to focus on this conscious task such as seeing, listening, touching, smelling or tasting on something x,y,z.
By doing so, you are, effectively, shorten your brain/mind circuits. A new world will appeared to you.
It can be: the song of a bird, the moving clouds, the feeling of the ground while walking,
the taste of a fruit, the cool feeling of the wind, the sound of silence, the sensation of your skin by touching it, the color of the clouds, the sound of the train on its tracks, etc… Targets are endless.
At least once a day and for a short period of time, press the “pause key” on your restless mind.
This pause key can be done by using one of your 5 senses (seeing and listening are the best).
By doing so, your are bringing your awareness to the surrounding world that we never pay attention to before because of our autopilot behavior and day dreaming.
It is like a deep-water diver discovering the unknown wonders of the underwater world.
Thank you Oakville Zen Team