As Christmas rolls around, the city of Singapore has turned into a kaleidoscope of colour, sounds of carols and feelings of relaxation. There is a palpable excitement in the air. It is a time for giving and receiving, not to mention eating, drinking and partying. What better time to try a sensory-based experiment than now when there’s a wealth of things to feast our senses on?
Most of us have the same routine day in and day out. The weekend may bring us some respite from work and the office. There may be some excitement on the social front, fun with the family or down time just relaxing.
But think about it. Could our daily habits and behaviour do with a little boost or spicing up now and then? We are not talking about anything radical or life changing here.
What we are focusing on are the possibility of small tweaks and shifts that can vastly improve the quality of our lives. The impact will not only be on a personal level but across the board in all other areas of our lives.
So how about it? Can you picture stepping out of your box for the next week to see, hear, feel, taste and smell things differently?
“If it’s not broken don’t fix it; don’t reinvent the wheel; don’t rock the boat.” Such sayings may have been wise and served people well in the past. But in this day and age there is a rather rigid tone about them.
Yes agreed there may be a number of things, physical or otherwise, which we may want to retain as they are for the sake of practicality and convenience. Apart from these everything else could do with a bit of change here and there.
So here is a suggested one-week plan for you to act on and have as an intensive sensory-based experience. Feel free to tweak it as you go along and remember to have fun with it!
Day one – view your surroundings. Be more mindful and alert to as much detail around you as possible. Focus on colours, patterns, brightness, contrast, sharpness, especially when you are outdoors. Look at the sky, grass, trees and flowers more closely. Notice at least three things you have not consciously looked at before. Make no judgments, just observe and register it with your eyes.
Day two – listen deeply when anyone speaks to you. It could be family, friends, colleagues, boss or anyone at all. Be all ears and tune in completely, don’t rehearse your reply while they are talking or be distracted by other things. As you listen to their words notice the quality of their voice, the volume, tone and pitch.
Day three – brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, do it with your left and vice versa. Feel the toothbrush as it makes contact with your teeth. Feel the sensation as you grasp it in the hand you don’t normally use. Feel the effort of coordinating the task and being slowed down in contrast to the automatic way you do it every single day.
Day four – listen to your internal dialogue. Every time you hear a voice in your mind, stop and notice the tone, pitch, quality and volume. Be alert to what it is saying and just listen and let go, don’t react. Notice if the voice is yours or rings a bell and reminds you of someone else.
Day five – eat at a different restaurant during breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you’re cooking at home try an entirely new dish. Savour every bite and mouthful you take. Let your mouth water and your tongue roll around the different textures and tastes. Chew every mouthful for as long as possible.
Day six – use a different perfume. Take in the different odours in your home and office. Step out after the rain and breathe in deeply. Inhale the smell of freshly cut grass. Sniff your freshly laundered clothes or your child’s freshly shampooed hair. Get a whiff of the newspaper, coffee, the inside of your car or phone, watch, toast, flowers, fruit, and meals.
Day seven – be mindful from moment to moment. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whomever you are with, just be present in the moment. Be in rapport with the people in your daily life. Focus on one thing at a time and do not think ahead to your next task. Breathe, walk, bath, eat, listen, look, drive and work in a mindful manner. Pay complete attention to what needs to be done first before you move to the next task.
You could journal your experience at the end of each day or record it in pictures or thoughts on your phone. Jot down what was different, what you liked and did not like. Make a note of your preferences.
List some things you want to experience more of which you feel are lacking at the moment. You could also choose one sense and repeat it for an entire week. And finally consolidate how it feels in mind, body and spirit at the end of the week.
You may wonder what does this have to do with leadership and creating effective people? Well the first step in achieving results beyond mediocrity is to know our internal self. Exercises like these help us make small changes that have a big impact on unleashing full potential. Do you already do some of these activities? Is mindfulness a high priority in your life?
Sylvia Fernandes is the Founder & CEO of VIA Frontiers established in Sydney in 2002 and is currently based in Singapore. She is a corporate NLP trainer and consults in creating effective people in the Asia Pacific Region.