Sensory Awareness Leads to Mindfulness

IMG_1085Do you want to live your life with more mindfulness? Do you want to stop rushing toward the end of your life?

In a Reology Retreat we begin each day with a form of mindfulness meditation called Sensory Awareness. In this practice we use our senses to slow ourselves down and get more deeply connected to how we feel.  In doing this we begin to notice how much we miss when we live our lives on autopilot and we learn how to slow down to notice what is happening right now.  I notice the breeze on my skin, the sounds around me, the warmth of the sun, the gentle motion of clouds, and perhaps light, shadow and colors all around me.

In Sensory Awareness practice we try to let go of our tendency to think about the world we are experiencing (stop labeling, comparing, analyzing, judging) and instead, directly experience the world through our senses.  Our senses operate in a non-verbal world. This mindfulness practice allows us to kinesthetically connect to the present moment.

With this practice our senses become sharper and we notice more details. We become aware of how we feel and more fully conscious in our lives.  Sensory Awareness is best done when we set aside a time every day, but we can do this throughout every day because our senses are with us around the clock.

To begin this mindfulness practice we might move in slow motion and then at times juxtapose this rhythm with rapid movement to notice the difference. When we slow down long enough we can notice our breath has taken on a new and slower pace. We can find that our experience of tuning into our body’s pace can be very different from absentmindedly rushing around at our mind’s pace.

We can become fascinated observers of the world in the ways we did as children, before we began using language. At that point we did not care about what things meant. With language we try to create meaning of each experience. As toddlers, we did not have to package each observation into something we could “know”. We just enjoyed pure experience, just observing, just sensing.

With this mindfulness practice we can begin to stop rushing toward the end of our lives.

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6 Responses to Sensory Awareness Leads to Mindfulness

  1. Chiara August 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    I’d love to try this meditation :)

    • Hannah Eagle August 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      Chiara, I hope someday you will join us at a retreat. I don’t know how to give you more than this taste without your being there. I am grateful for your comment.

  2. Sam November 12, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Wow, 102 this woman sounded so fascinating. I’ve been devouring your articles over the last few hours. For me they seem to mostly fit, and that is comforting. But then I realize… The world I’m in, until I am able to get the help and understanding to sort myself out to better move and be in your world. Does me no real help, for I don’t have a clue how to filter it through my Aspie self.
    Aspergers is different for every person on the spectrum.
    Sensory- when running normal for me I guess would be where your trying to be. When over stressed, taxed etc for me physically hurts.
    Like have you ever had chicken skin for a long time, and your arm hair could be lightly touched or even just a breeze and it stings or feels like when “ants” are all over after your foot has fallen asleep. I tell myself to wait; am I missing something? But most times I just chant this too shall pass….
    I was wondering if you have any experience with adult females on the spectrum?

  3. Metta November 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Hi Sam, I’d like to comment on Aspergers and mindfulness practices, from my background as a psychologist, yoga teacher, and as a partner in a neuro-diverse relationship (this suddenly strikes me as a ridiculous term–as though non-spectrum couples were sharing the same brain!). I have a few sensory quirks of my own, such as listening to others crunching on crunchy crackers can sometimes feel like nails-on-the-chalkboard, if I’m already stressed. : ) So I’m with ya.

    The two most effective interventions for managing (even reducing) sensory processing overload are gentle yoga, and facilitated sensory awareness practices, such as the mandala, which Jake and Hannah do on their retreats, or facilitated yoga nidra. Kripalu retreat center (where I trained as a yoga teacher) has a “find a teacher near you” feature. The effectiveness of yoga for increasing body awareness and tolerance of sensory input depends a lot on the teacher and style of yoga. Kripalu is what I would recommend, for starters. For mandala practice, and many other reasons, I cannot recommend Jake and Hannah’s retreats highly enough. My husband (self-identified with Aspergers) was a different man after the first retreat we went to–like a whole level of anxiety had simply dropped away.

    Facilitated yoga nidra is similar to mandala practice. I have a description of it on my website (www.seasonsofpeace.com under “yoga therapy” and “iRest yoga nidra”). I do facilitated yoga nidra via Skype and in person (near Boston). http://www.iRest.us has a teacher directory of facilitators, and some great CDs and downloads.

    http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com has a lot of resources. In particular, the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist could be helpful for educating your healthcare providers about your unique concerns (as well as helping you clarify yourself, for yourself).

    Hope you find something useful in these recommendations!

  4. Hannah Eagle November 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Dear Sam,

    Yes, Aspergers can be challenging. I understand your experience when stressed.Since sensory stimulus is so uncomfortable when you are stressed, I would not suggest you do Sensory Awareness at that time. However, Sensory Awareness practice is something to do to avoid stress. You can make this a daily practice so that you are more calm throughout your day and begin to respond more than react to events of your day and generally experience stress less often.

    Best,
    Hannah

  5. Metta November 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Metta

    Hi Sam, I’d like to comment on Aspergers and mindfulness practices, from my background as a psychologist, yoga teacher, and as a partner in a neuro-diverse relationship (this suddenly strikes me as a ridiculous term–as though non-spectrum couples were sharing the same brain!). I have a few sensory quirks of my own, such as listening to others crunching on crunchy crackers can sometimes feel like nails-on-the-chalkboard, if I’m already stressed. : ) So I’m with ya.

    The two most effective interventions for managing (even reducing) sensory processing overload are gentle yoga, and facilitated sensory awareness practices, such as the mandala, which Jake and Hannah do on their retreats, or facilitated yoga nidra. Kripalu retreat center (where I trained as a yoga teacher) has a “find a teacher near you” feature. The effectiveness of yoga for increasing body awareness and tolerance of sensory input depends a lot on the teacher and style of yoga. Kripalu is what I would recommend, for starters. For mandala practice, and many other reasons, I cannot recommend Jake and Hannah’s retreats highly enough. My husband (self-identified with Aspergers) was a different man after the first retreat we went to–like a whole level of anxiety had simply dropped away.

    Facilitated yoga nidra is similar to mandala practice. I have a description of it on my website (www.seasonsofpeace.com under “yoga therapy” and “iRest yoga nidra”). I do facilitated yoga nidra via Skype and in person (near Boston). http://www.iRest.us has a teacher directory of facilitators, and some great CDs and downloads.

    http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com has a lot of resources. In particular, the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist could be helpful for educating your healthcare providers about your unique concerns (as well as helping you clarify yourself, for yourself).

    Hope you find something useful in these recommendations!

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