5 SENSES PODCAST
Hello and welcome to Your Anxiety Toolkit. My name is Kimberley Quinlan.
A big part of my work as a therapist is to help clients tolerate fear and anxiety (or other forms of discomfort such as urges and sometimes pain), instead of doing compulsive behaviors.
In effort to keep this podcast short, I wont go into detail about compulsions. But, if you are wanting more information on compulsive behaviors related to specific anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, please go to my website under “Areas of specialty”
The reason I decided on this specific topic today is because of the common question asked by clients “If I choose NOT to do these compulsive behaviors, what should I do instead?”.
Well, I like to think of our experience in this life like looking through the lens of a camera. When we are anxious, we often ZOOM in on what is making us anxious or we zoom in to our sensations of anxiety. We FOCUS on the problem. We stay zoomed in, thinking this will solve it. That makes sense, right? If we could just figure out how to solve the problem, we would then fix the problem, right? But what if zooming in was not the solution. What if zooming OUT was the solution?? Hmmm, interesting right??
One of my favorite activities for clients (or for myself) when anxious or dealing with discomfort involves just becoming an observer. The following meditation is an exercise of this. It is a meditation of noticing. I like to call it “the 5 senses Mediation. I hope you enjoy it. And feel free to leave a comment in the comment section of the blog that accompanies this podcast.
OK, I want you to find a place where you can rest, preferably in sitting position, and take a deep breath. And then another.
You are here because you probably are uncomfortable.
Something just happened that created a lot of anxiety or distress for you, - or maybe you just finished up doing an exposure. I can imagine that you are experiencing some pretty uncomfortable feelings. Maybe your stomach is in knots. Maybe you have a really tight chest or maybe a racing heart rate. Maybe your head is spinning, telling you to “make this anxiety or this feeling go away!” You know from experience that doing a compulsive behavior keeps you in the cycle of anxiety. So instead, you are here, sitting with your discomfort.
Again, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for how brave you are.
After another breath in…and then out, I want you to shift your gaze to your noticing mind. As you breathe in and out. I want you to close your eyes and just notice what it is like for your chest to rise and fall. Continue to breathe at a pace and depth that feels good for you as you observe.
Now, I want you to shift your attention to what you hear. What sounds do you hear? Are they pleasant or unpleasant? Try not to get too caught up in your emotions about the noises. Just notice them
You may find that your thoughts drift off, try not to be alarmed or frustrated. This is just your brain doing what it does. Just bring your attention gently back to what you were noticing. If you find your mind keeps going other directions, that is ok and very normal. Don’t give it too much attention. Just notice and return back to the meditation.
Again, return to your breath. And now, I want you to notice what you smell? Continue to breathe and observe the scents around you. Did you notice them before? Or are you just now noticing them?
Take another deep breath, and this time notice if there is a particular taste in your mouth. Do you taste the flavors of your most recent meal? Or do you have the freshness of your toothpaste on your tongue as you observe the sensation of taste. What textures do you notice?
So, we have already explored sound, smell and taste. Now I encourage you to gently open your eyes and notice what your see. What shapes do you see? What colors do you see? Are there any particular colors that you enjoy? Or do you notice an aversion to certain colors or textures. Try not to get too caught up in what is the “right” way to observe. Just notice that you are noticing. That is all this is about.
Lastly, I want to you gently close your eyes again and notice your breath again. As you breathe in an out, turn your noticing mind towards the sensation of being pulled down onto the chair by gravity. Where do you notice the strongest pull of gravity? Is it under your thighs and buttocks as you sit? Or is it under the soles of your feet, if you are standing? Or do you feel a strong pull of gravity under your back, as you recline in your chair? Isn’t it interesting to notice this??? You might also notice what it feels like to touch whatever it is that is close to your hands. What texture do you feel? Is it soft or hard? Maybe crinkly? Maybe spongy. If you like, you might also notice what it feels like for the air to touch your skin, maybe on your arms or on your face. If you find that this creates discomfort for you, gently return to one of the other sensations that you enjoyed. Remember, there is no pressure with this meditation. It is just about noticing.
Again, return to your breath. Before we wrap up with this meditation, I invite you to slowly open your eyes. Give yourself one last breath, this one a gift for with you just did! Fantastic job!!
As you continue to breath, go into your day using your noticing mind as much as you can. You might work to just observe what flowers you see as you walk to your class? Or you might notice and observe what it feels like for your hands to grip your fork as you eat? OR maybe you just notice your breath, going in and out of your chest.
Enjoy your day!
Please note that this podcast should not be a substitute for professional mental health care. Please speak with a professional mental health care provider for information on what tools would best suit you.