We use our five senses - hearing, feeling, sight, smell, taste - to navigate our way through life. When the world around us seems overwhelming - we know that a lot is going on but we do not know why or how it is affecting us - we may, in fact, be in sensory overload.
Taking a moment to stop and observe the senses - each in turn and with quiet consideration for how each one feels - can help reduce sensory overload, in spite of what is happening around us.
Take a moment to find a comfortable seat.
Hearing. Notice the noise around you - a passing car or bus, sounds of voices, birds signing, refrigerator running. Attune to the noise, noticing its presence in the moment with you.
Feeling. After a few deep breaths, begin to notice the feeling of the weight of your legs on the surface below, the brush of your pants or skirt on the skin beneath, and the contact between your hands and your lap.
Sight. If the eyes are closed, begin to notice the shapes and colors creating at the back of the eyelids - squiggly lines, formation of the third eye, figures and lights. Watch the figures dance by for a few breaths - it's just you and them.
Smell. Begin to notice the smells around you - candle aroma in the air, perfume or lotion on your skin, dinner cooking in the kitchen.
Taste. Notice the taste on your tongue - acidic, sweet, sour, neutral. Prefer not to evaluate the sustenance from which it came. Just notice.
Spending a moment in quiet observation of the senses welcomes us to the here and now. To notice if any of the senses are in overdrive during this exercise helps us to find balance and remember our most basic nature as living, breathing organisms. When we practice in unity, we realize that we are all, in fact, the same: living and breathing in the universe, smelling and tasting our food, hearing the sounds of the wind and feeling the breeze on our skin, opening our eyes to the world that surrounds us, and taking in the same sun and moon that our ancestors enjoyed.