Mindfulness or Vipassana is becoming more and more popular as the mainstream, for better or worse (better in my opinion), takes it to heart. There can be some haziness as to what is meant by the noting the incoming senses. In the latest video from The Unusual Buddha on YouTube we lay out a rapid fire 5 minute mindfulness exercise. To illustrate the ease and simplicity of mindfulness. Click below for the video
In the video we go through the senses one by one and outline what is meant by being mindful of the senses. Just like kindergarten nothing too complex here. We’ll go over sight, smell, taste, hearing, and, touch. Just to make it easier and more digestible we’re going to lay out the message with doggos! Here we go!
What exactly are we ‘looking’ for when when we look at sight. They say 90% of data transmitted to the brain is visual. So barring any sort of hardware issues we are all well aware of sight. The mind so badly wants for visual input even when we close our eyes we “see”. This is the fun part where we turn our awareness back on itself. If we observe merely the fact that we are seeing rather than getting caught up in that stream, we are one stop closer to freedom.
When we view the world through the same jaded eyes we tend to get caught up in what the visual objects represent. This is the basis upon which symbols and symbology function. A picture of the Valentine’s Day heart takes on a different meaning than a photograph of a heart. We become
subjectively involved in the experience rather than observe it objectively. Rather than trailing down that stream of crazy just mentally note “Seeing”. Not per say wrong just the process as it stands and it is also where the trap truly lies. On to the olfactory system…
The olfactory, as the hints show is the complex that supports the sense of smell. Our sense of smell is more closely tied to our memory. Which makes sense of you really stop and think about it. You spend your childhood saying “What’s that smell?”. Then, as an adult you spend most of the time that you smell things, remembering or at least attempting to remember where you know it from. This may sound benign enough and on the surface it is, however, when you think about the prospect of spending more time in the past we tend to remember the mistakes and the times we fell short and not so often the wins. Dwelling in the past is most often a recipe for depression. So rather than allowing the smell of pancakes to take you back to Grandma’s house, just mentally note “Smelling”. We’re so close to the end hear we can almost … taste it… (I know too on the nose, Dad jokes are a part of my life now)
Gustation or taste, like most senses, actually occurs in the brain with information from the tongue and not on the tongue itself. The story here is no different. Taste the food or drink you are enjoying currently and don’t be consumed with thoughts of past dishes. Again we’re looking to stay as objective as possible so mentally “Tasting” over salty, spicy, sweet etc. keep classifying senses in the most objective means you can as you continue. Thank you Doggo of Taste, now on to the Pupper of Hearing
The auditory system though incredibly huge to our perception of the world relies on the 3 smallest bones in the body. If you’re anything like me you don’t really notice your sense of hearing until your ass meets the meditation cushion… or when your kids get too quiet. At those two points all the sudden I become the master of sounds. We spend most of our timing hearing, silently judging the sounds we’re greeted with things like high low, close far, and, pleasant unpleasant. Obviously wait til you’re in a situation where there’s no danger and simply acknowledge the sensation as it comes to the forefront of your awareness. Merely noted best as “Hearing”. Oddly enough 4 of our 5 senses are centered in about 10% of our body. Let’s take our sense awareness beyond our head and into the rest of the body.
As stated above this one sense is housed in the majority of the body and shy of our hands and feet most of our pain receptors live in our face, lips, and, neck. The sense of touch is very strongly tied to our emotions. This sense touch is actually the first we develop and for those 2 facts it can be the toughest to face objectively. Start some where very noticeable like in your palms and just notice the sensation present and note “Touching”. Things like “smooth rough” are bound to come up. Just gently but with purpose bring your awareness back the palms and the mental note “Touching”. Thank you Doggo of Touch
So there we have it, we have explored all 5 of the traditional senses. The practice of mindfulness is a profound one. Now that you have a bit more background into them use this new knowledge for your practice. Just don’t become overwhelmed looking for all 5 at once. Just go to the most noticeable sense first and really experience the sensation. Breaking the cycle of autopilot is a tough and really rewarding one. If you find yourself grading experiences merely bring it back to an objective place. It can be as simple as your 2 feet on the ground. “Touching” once you’ve re-centered go on to your next task. It’s okay not to be great at it, that’s why we call it practice.
For the next few weeks look out for Mindful Mondays from The Unusual Buddha. Hopefully watching a quick mindfulness practice can inspire your own! If you’d like to help support The Unusual Buddha and what we’re doing here head over to Patreon.com/theunusualbuddha.