One of the mindfulness techniques that always goes down well in school is the 5 Senses Countdown, in which we bring our attention to our senses and notice (in detail):
5 things that we can see;
4 things that we can touch;
3 things that we can hear;
2 things that we can smell;
1 thing that we can taste.
It’s a great technique to ground attention in the present moment, for building curiosity and it also provides a welcome distraction from negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings when you’re having a ‘wobble.’
It’s also a good antidote to being bored, which is why I tried it recently, when waiting at the Fish ‘n’ Chip shop, having decided to treat myself for no real reason at all.
Though I’ve been to plenty of Chippies – included this one a good few times – I’ve never quite experienced it as I did in these moments.
I could see the golden batter of the fish through the speckled glass; the moon-like texture, the way the light reflected on different parts, the different shades of sun-like colour. I noticed the silver, shiny counter-tops, which – upon looking more closely – I saw were covered in the tiny scratches and markings left from years of hungry customers.
The counter-tops felt cool against my hands, which provided a stark contrast with the sound of intense heat; the high-pitched and staccato pop, pop, pop of oil bubbling as my food cooked.
And the smell – oh the smell. Aromas of food and oil and heat emanated from that place, and whilst I recognise that this doesn’t sound pleasant, it really was. Alongside this, fresh, cool air blew in from outside, where the door had been left open.
My mouth tasted dry and icky, perhaps the result of the hunger that these disgusting, beautiful smells had triggered.
The ten minutes I spent waiting for my food – a time which I would usually spend checking my phone to avoid the inevitable feelings of boredom/frustration/hunger – were instead spent experiencing this place as if for the first time, which was altogether a lot more pleasant and interesting.
Don’t believe me? The next time you’re bored or waiting or just curious, try the 5 Senses Countdown and see if it doesn’t change the way you look and think about things. If you do – feel free to comment below: