Sensitivity Exercise

Our five senses— sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch—are how our bodies obtain data about others and our surroundings.

Bringing quiet attention to your five senses strengthens your perceptive abilities, and enhances your sensitivity to others and the world in which you live.

You can use this 1- to 2-minute exercise as needed, but it will be most helpful if repeated regularly. For example, you may practice it just before work, before or after lunch, or at the end of the day.


Begin by breathing and focusing.

  1. Breathe in for a count of four and pause. Breathe out for a count of seven and pause.
  2. Repeat this breath cycle four more times.
  3. With each breath cycle, relax your muscles a little more.

Let’s explore each of the senses, beginning with sight.

  1. Allow your eyes to gaze around you.
  2. Notice any sights that bring you pleasure. Notice how those feelings of pleasure affect your body.
  3. Enjoy the connections between what you see and the effects on your physiology.

Next, the sense of hearing.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Bring your full attention to sounds around you.
  3. As you sit quietly, notice as sounds (near and far) become more distinct.

Moving now to the sense of taste.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Bring awareness to each part of your mouth: your lips, your tongue, and your teeth.
  3. Notice the taste of your saliva.
  4. Imagine and savor different tastes: for example, the sweetness of strawberries, the saltiness of potato chips, the sourness of fresh lemon and the bitterness of arugula.

Moving now to the sense of smell.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Breathe in and out through your nose. Bring your awareness to the air that swirls up through your nostrils as you inhale.
  3. Notice that cool air touching the back of your throat.
  4. As you exhale, notice that the air feels warmer as it exits your throat and nostrils.
  5. As you continue breathing in and out, notice smells (both distinct and subtle) that come to your attention.

Moving now to the sense of touch.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Rest your hands and arms comfortably. For example, if you’re standing, rest them at your sides; if sitting, in your lap.
  3. Notice sensations in the hands and arms that touch your body.
  4. Notice areas where the body is supported (in the soles of your feet if you’re standing, or in the feet, the back, and legs if you’re lying down.


Explore each sense daily for about 30 seconds. This is the foundation for developing greater sensitivity when engaging with others and the world in which you live.