Paying attention to your senses is probably the easiest way to practice mindfulness.
When you tune in to your senses, you are effectively living in the now.
Your senses are as “in the now” as it gets.
When you tune into to your senses, you give your busy brain a much-needed break.
Your brain focuses on whatever it is you experience with your senses … instead of mulling over worries and to-do lists.
Even a short break from mental chatter helps you to calm down.
It’s hard to be frustrated and anxious when you are completely focused on your senses because you are fully engaged in the now instead of stuck worrying about the future or caught in regrets. This is why mindfulness can be so liberating.
Okay, so here’s a super simple and short sensory awareness activity that you can do together with your kid or on your own. When you feel bored or frustrated, for example.
It can be done pretty much anywhere for focus, calm and clarity.
Children, youth and grown-ups can use this activity to:
take their mind off waiting,
reduce anxiety before a test in school,
learn focusing skills,
and figure out that paying attention to their senses helps them relax.
Three Senses Mindfulness Activity for Kids, Teens and Grown-ups:
Purpose: Mindfulness of Sounds, Surroundings and Body, Focus, Awareness, Calm
Best for: Ages 5+, groups or one-on-one
What you need: Nothing
To begin, tell your child that he can focus on his senses to calm his body and mind. That you will pay attention to sound, sight and touch to try this out.
Explain that he will simply pay attention to his senses when you ask him questions. You can talk about what he noticed when you’re done, and he should try to be silent and pay attention during the activity. It’s easier and more fun that way.
Next, take five slow breaths together and ask your child:
1. What are three things you can hear?
2. What are three things you can see?
3. What are three things you can feel?
Give him about 20-40 seconds per question.
When you are done, ask him what he noticed per question.
Perhaps he heard a clock, saw a painting, and felt the chair under him and so on.
Ask how this activity made him feel.
Could he use this skill when he’s bored or anxious? When might that be?
Sometimes my three-year-old son Anton asks me and my wife Hanna to focus and discover ten different sounds at the dinner table. This is something he came up with after we tried Three Senses a few times. It’s simple–it’s just the listening part of the exercise.
I was not going to share this, but it made all the parents laugh at one of my courses, so here it is …
… sometimes I add a little extra fun to the game by making fake fart noises when he concentrates really, really hard with his eyes closed.
Obviously this is a lot of fun for a three-year-old.
“Find a color”
Sometimes we play a game of “find a color.” Which simply means that each person gets to choose a color in turn and the other player tries to find something in that color.
“Try to find a red thing in this room …”
“What are all the purple things you can see from where you sit?”
You can play this at the grocery store too …
Ask your kid to find something and fetch it for you:
“Can you find something yellow that begins with a B?”
You can ask your child to help you pick groceries like this or simply play a game and ask him or her to return the stuff back to the shelves.
Have fun! I hope that you enjoyed these ideas. May you be happy and healthy :-)
If you are new to mindfulness with children we recommend that you read our guide: How To Practice Mindfulness With Children – The Essential Guide
Chris Bergstrom is the co-founder of BlissfulKids.com and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator, and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.