Tools For The Empath: A Sensual Meditation
When we live in the past, we feel depressed as a result. When we live in the future, we feel anxious. Ease comes when we’re right in the middle. The quickest way to come back to the present moment? Engage one or all of your senses with sense-based meditation. In this practice, you can work your way through each of the five senses or pick and choose the ones that you’d like to engage that help you feel the most aligned.
Pick one or more of the following:
- A scent totem — a perfume, flower, candle, lotion, essential oil, etc.
- A taste totem — a piece of chocolate, fruit (one berry, one segment of clementine, a small piece of apple, etc.), even a grain of kosher salt is fine if you don’t enjoy sweets
- A touch totem — anything that can fit in your palm that has a lightweight; can use your scent totem as well
Your sight and auditory totems will come from around you, so nothing extra needed for these. Find a comfortable seat in a chair, on a meditation pillow, against your headboard, outside in the grass — in any place that allows your spine to be erect, preferably with your hips higher than your knees. Once settled, take a few deep breaths into your belly and see if you can soften any muscles that are tensed. As you engage your sense of choice, be a non-judgmental observer of it for at least 10 breaths.
Keep your eyes open to start and find a non-moving point to focus on at eye level. Become aware of your object’s shape, color and texture. Notice if your peripheral vision becomes fuzzy as your focal point fully captivates your sight. Keep your brows and the creases of your eyes soft and fill the belly with breath.
With an easy gaze, notice the ground underneath of your seat and how gravity supports you. Pick up your touch totem and feel the weight of the object, perhaps closing your eyes. Roll it around in your hand, become aware of its texture, and notice how your palm supports your object just as the earth supports you. After at least 10 breaths with the object, set it down in your own time.
To illuminate your sense of smell, take a small bit of lotion or essential oil into your palms, hold your flower bud, or light your candle, and take the scent close to your nose. Gaze soft or eyes closed, breathe in deeply, perhaps holding the breath at the top of each inhale for 3 seconds and holding the breath at the bottom of each exhale for 5 seconds. Observe any heightened awareness of the connection between nose and throat.
Allow your tongue to soften and fall away from the roof of your mouth. Call to memory the taste of your totem and notice the sensations that come up on your tongue as a result: Salivation, perhaps your tongue curls at the edges, or maybe nothing happens. As if you could savor every molecule of your food of choice, place it onto the front of your tongue and let it sit there for a breath, then shift it to the back of your tongue for a breath. What flavors do you taste? If the food requires chewing, mindfully crunch and observe the way your teeth move to break down the food. Once you swallow, notice the taste left behind on your tongue.
Close your eyes and focus your gaze right behind your eyelids. Magnetize your hearing to the most prominent sound in your space. Perhaps you hear birds chirping, water running, an air conditioner, furnace, or leaf blower; no sound is better or more insightful than any other. If other sounds pop up, and if they’re more powerful than your original sound, allow the new sound to be your auditory focal point. Become aware of the ebb and flow of the sound and picture its waves traveling from its source through your ear canal into the inner ear. Continue to breathe fully into your belly.
Bring a hand over your heart, a hand over your belly, and sit with yourself for at least three more breaths. Send gratitude to yourself for your suit of skin and bones that allows you to perceive the world around you and become present with it. Be easy with yourself, especially if you have a tendency to take yourself and your spiritual practice very seriously. We’re cyclical creatures and we can lose ourselves in daydreams of past and future, quite easily forgetting our desire to live in the space between each moment — and that’s okay because when we forget, we simply get present again and again.
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