Compassion, Awareness,
Mindfulness and Acceptance

Approaching Daily Tasks Using 5 Senses Experiencing

Below is a list of some daily tasks that most people do automatically. The next time you find yourself doing one of them, deliberately focus on and pay attention to what you are doing and experiencing at the moment. Approach the task with a sense of curiosity and an openness to whatever you experience. Notice all that is happening outside you (5 senses) and inside you (mental experiencing). And, whenever you find your mind wandering from your 5 senses, just gently return your attention.
  1. Mindful Showering. This everyday activity is a good one to start with because many people find showering a pleasant, even sensual experience. Next time you shower, just notice how the water feels on different parts of your body. Notice the temperature of the water, just notice judgements about whether it is too hot or too cold or even just right - notice that it is just water touching you. Notice what you feel as you rub your body with soap and as you shampoo your hair. Notice what the soap and shampoo smell like. And, as your mind drifts away from your showering, gently refocus on showering, returning to your 5 senses.
  2. Mindfully Brushing Your Teeth. Notice what the bristles feel like while brushing the front, the top, and the back of your teeth and how it feels to brush your gums and your tongue. Notice how your arm seems to know where to go. Notice the taste of the toothpaste. Just focus on the sensations and actions of the simple task of brushing your teeth. Noticing drifting in mental experiencing, and returning to 5 senses experiencing.
  3. Mindful Eating: Put down the newspaper, book, or magazine, even the textbook. Turn off the computer, TV, and radio. Then, use all of your senses to fully experience your eating. When the food is in your mouth, close your eyes, eat slowly, and savor the experience.
  4. Mindful Dishwashing. Begin your experimenting with mindful dishwashing when you have just a few dishes to wash. From the time you turn on the water until you shut it off, focus all of your attention on washing the dishes. Notice how it feels, what it looks like, and what it sounds like to scrape dishes and then to wash them with a sponge or dish rag. As you rinse each dish, watch the water run down the dish and over the side into the sink. Listen to the sound of the water hitting the dish. Although it is easy to do this routine chore while thinking about other things, for once, just wash the dishes and be totally into doing it.
  5. Mindfully Making Your Bed. Some people make their bed quickly and carelessly, some people do it meticulously, and some people do not make their bed. Few people make their bed mindfully. Pay attention to each component of making the bed, from smoothing the sheets to the last minor adjustments of pillows, blankets, and covers. Watch what you are doing, and notice how the picture of the bed is changing. Notice the different textures of the bedding. Feel the kinesthetic sensations of pulling up covers and tucking in sheets. Be with the whole experience.
  6. Mindful Exercising. Next time you exercise, whatever it might be, do so mindfully by focusing totally on the exercising. This means no headphones and music, no watching TV, no talking to other people. Just pay attention to the movements involved, how your muscles feel, and your breathing. Notice, and quickly let go of, any evaluation of these sensations, such as “This hurts”, “This is hard” or “This feels good”. If you do this, you will have had the full experience of exercising rather than just part of it (as you do when you distract yourself from pain or labored breathing).