Mindfulness is a state of being. It's been defined as 'paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non- judgmentally,' by Jon Kabat-Zinn. One of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness is to heighten sensory awareness, since when we are aware of what is happening now both within us and around us, we are grounded in the present.

A favorite exercise I use to teach my students mindfulness is the following.

I call it "Circling through the Senses."

Start standing or sitting. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply, feeling the body as the breath flows. Draw attention to the floor or chair beneath you. Feel the pressure of your body against it. Shift your weight gently forward and back. Settle in a balanced upright posture. Notice all you feel through touch - clothing textures, air temperature, breezes, even breath in the nostrils. Shift attention to sound. Without strain, let sounds fall on your ears, open and hearing—sounds of man and nature. If thoughts or feelings come up, note it and return to sense observation. Relax muscles around the eyes and softly open them, without fixing your gaze on anything in particular. Take in light, shadow and colors around you—the rich visual palette. Return attention to the breath and open awareness to all of it—senses, thoughts, feelings—all happening in this moment. Be fully present.

Shirley Archer