We have been practicing how to use our senses to focus our attention in mindful activities. We used our sense of hearing to mindfully listen to a variety of sounds. We also mindfully listened to parts of Peter and the Wolf. Here is a link if you want to check it out-
We also practiced how to use our eyes by mindfully seeing objects and describing details in those objects. We also practiced showing and interpreting emotions via facial expression and body language with no sound. Research tells us that mindful seeing helps us slow down and focus our attention on details. Sharpening visual discrimination skills can help improve skills critical in any subject area (e.g., nuances in word structure, identifying relationships between numbers in a sequence). These skills can also improve the ability to read social cues and act perceptively in response to facial expression and body language of others.
We practiced how to use our bodies (sense of touch) with mindful movement. We learned how to take our pulse and how we can regulate our heart rate with exercise and mindful breathing. We also learned how to use specific yoga poses to focus our bodies and brains together (e.g., balance poses such as tree and eagle). Working on physical balance is shown to have positive effects on our brain’s health, reinforcing higher-order thinking skills and emotional control. We also learned how to use glitter jars and pinwheels to focus our attention and regulate breathing. Getting oxygen into our bodies triggers our prefrontal cortex to send soothing messages to our limbic system and amygdala.
Currently, we are practicing how to engage several of our senses to mindfully taste. This can heighten the tasting experience and slow us down so we don’t overeat (takes 10-15 min. for the stomach to send a signal to the brain that it is full). Mindful tasting begins with mindful seeing (notice the color, shape, size, markings), smelling (possible memories associated with the smell of the morsel), feeling the food (focus on how it feels in the mouth, texture, moving it around in the mouth before biting) and then, finally, biting the morsel and chewing slowly continuing to notice the feeling, flavor, and changes as we chew. Mindful tasting can help us savor our food and notice details about its flavor, texture, and temperature. It can make us aware of the quality of our food and healthiness of it. The novelty of mindful tasting can also help youth be more willing to try out new “morsels.”