As I mentioned on Day 001, one thing I hope for this blog is that my readers will find here helpful tips and support for living their own lives with greater curiosity. For that reason, I’d like at this early stage to give you one example of the kinds of exercises I’ll be posting as we move through this year.
This one is very simple and needn’t take long at all. I call it the Five Senses exercise.
The process: Simply stop what you’re doing and use your five senses to explore without pressure or judgment your immediate environment. I personally like to do this in the following order:
- Sight (and then I close my eyes)
- Touch (external) and feeling (internal)
A very brief example – out in the woods
- What do I see? Green, trees, sun dapples on a path thickly covered with pine needles.
- What do I hear? The hush of a summer mid-afternoon with the occasional swoosh of a car.
- What do I feel? Without, a perfect temperature and still air. Within, peace and pleasure.
- What do I smell? The scent of pine trees released by the warmth of the sun.
- What do I taste? Not sure.
As you see in the example, taste can be tricky, probably in part because we only think about it in connection with food and drink. I actually find one of the benefits of this exercise, in addition to just being very relaxing, is that it hones my ability to perceive and identify in more detail. I just haven’t made much progress yet with my sense of taste.
The exploring without pressure and judgment is fundamental to the exercise, at least the way I have defined curiosity (as “a state of experiencing a situation … with openness and a desire to see what happens and without feeling the need to influence the outcome”). That means, for example, that even if you get a strong whiff of skunk just as you’ve gotten to the “What do I smell?” step, you notice it and identify it without—yes, without—shouting “Pee-YOO! Get me out of here!” (If on the other hand, you smell a bear—and apparently you can smell them coming—you might want to open your eyes, judge the situation, and try to influence the outcome to your advantage. Curiosity is not a panacea! ;-))
Some of you may be asking—isn’t this really a mindfulness exercise? With that you have put your finger on a highly relevant question, one that tomorrow’s post will take a look at.