Meditation of the Senses

All of these meditations are not just a pleasant way of bringing ourselves into the moment, they also encourage our sense of being a part of a greater presence. A part of this knows this is true. Practicing these meditations can give us greater access to that part of us. Done often, it's not just a pleasure, it can be enlightening.

How to Practice

Go outdoors into a place where you feel you can relax for 20 minutes or so - a park or your backyard, a forest or by a lake or river. If you can, choose a place that has little activity so that you can become aware of the subtler aspects of the meditation. If you can't go outdoors, choose a place that is rich with sounds, sights, scents.

Spend as much or as little time with each of these senses as you like, according to your preferences and according to the day. One day you may want to focus on sound, another texture. We're all different and these preferences can change.

Sight

Stand or sit in a relaxed way, not looking at anything in particular. Include your peripheral vision.

Imagine you are looking with your whole face or body and not just your eyes. Take in the whole scene. If you are outdoors, rest in the whole picture, leaves moving on the trees, or whatever flow of motion is a part of the scene.

In a general way, notice light and shadow, and colours vivid and dull. Imagine you could somehow be big enough to include all that you see - trees, rocks, sky, grass - being a part of your greater energy body.

Now notice how your energy changes a bit as a bird flies into the scene, how it shifts to accommodate this new thing. And then, how it shifts again as the bird flies away. You may notice this change as though you were hearing a sound instead of a seeing a sight, or you may feel it as a sensation in your body. If a gust of wind ripples the grass or flowers, take pleasure in the sensation of it rippling within you.

Be clear that it is not your reaction to the perception you are noticing, but the sensation itself. Reaction comes a fraction of a second afterwards.

Understand also that you are not here to identify the sights, "this is a tree" but to perceive the sights before your mind translates that perception into identification or analysis. When you catch yourself moving into evaluation, do what you can to relax back into the simple pleasure of perception.

Sound

As with sight, see if you can hear with your whole being - your eyes and sense of touch as well as your ears.

Listen to the sounds with your whole being. Take in a general overview of the noises, trees, crickets, traffic, lawn mowers, people, music - and let that whole general sensation of sound be a part of your greater being. Get a taste for the whole picture.

Then when new noises rise and fall, notice how they subtly or not-so-subtly change your energy, how your energy accommodates the change and accommodates the loss of it when it vanishes.

Again you are not here to identify the sounds. You are hear to listen. Notice the sounds. Be aware of them, but don't label them. It's not traffic you hear, just a sound. When you catch yourself moving into identification, do what you can to relax back into the simple pleasure of perception.

Texture

Get a feel for the temperature of the air, the pressure or lack of pressure of the air on your cheeks, the feeling of hardness of the chair or ground under you and the general sensation of your clothing on your skin.

Then shift your position. If you were sitting on the grass, move to a rock or sidewalk or hard chair. If you were on something hard, shift to a softer surface.

Now do the whole exercise again, taking note of the difference in your whole energy body when you move from one texture to another. Notice how the hardness of the new surface moves right into you and your energy accommodates the change. Move back and notice the subtle way that your energy accommodates this different energy.

Again you are not here to analyze anything. Be aware of the sensations and changes, but don't label them. When you catch yourself moving into identification, do what you can to relax back into the simple pleasure of perception.

Scent

Take a deep breath and get a general sense of the odours around you. You may find it's a rich mix of trees, grasses, autos and even food smells.

Try not to identify them individually, just notice them as a whole.

Imagine that your expanded being includes all these rich fragrances. Then when another scent floats into range, see how it changes your energy, how you accommodate the change and then how as it drifts off, your energy changes again.

As with the other senses, when you notice yourself moving into interpretation, relax as best you can into the scents.

Notes

If you are struggling to remain with perception, try this:

  1. go back to your breath.
  2. then return to perception, but focus on the most dominant sound, sight, texture or scent
  3. notice how it changes in intensity - a sound may come nearer, peak and then fade
  4. feel it in you
  5. then go back to the breath
  6. then open to the next most dominant sound, sight, texture or scent
Eventually you'll find the process interesting, rather than distracting.