The 5 Senses is a mindfulness tool designed to bring you back into your body by engaging your senses and grounding you in the present moment. This simple yet effective practice involves paying attention to what you can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste, helping to shift your focus away from stressors and into a state of calm awareness.

The Practice

Sight: Look around and identify five things you can see. These could be objects in your environment, colors, shapes, or anything that catches your eye.

Hearing: Close your eyes and listen for four different sounds. These might include the hum of a refrigerator, birds chirping outside, distant traffic, or even the sound of your own breath.

Touch: Notice three things you can feel. This could be the texture of your clothing, the warmth of the sun on your skin, or the sensation of your feet on the ground.

Smell: Pay attention to two things you can smell. These might be the scent of a nearby flower, food cooking, or even the fresh air.

Taste: Finally, focus on one thing you can taste. It could be the lingering flavor of something you recently ate or simply the taste of your saliva.

How it Works

By engaging in sensory-focused mindfulness, you can enhance the activity of the prefrontal cortex, Anterior Cingulate Cortex, and insula while decreasing amygdala activity. (1)

The prefrontal cortex is involved with executive functions like decision-making in the brain.

The ACC is responsible for regulating emotions and processing bodily sensations.

The insula plays a critical role in interoceptive awareness (the perception of internal bodily states), strengthening the mind-body connection.

The amygdala is a crucial part of the brain that processes sensory input and determines whether it signifies a threat.

This neural activity during the 5 sense mindfulness practice helps facilitate the relaxation response, reducing overall stress and promoting mental and emotional well-being (2).


Reduce Stress and Anxiety: This practice helps to interrupt the cycle of anxious thoughts and disengage from stress-inducing thoughts by redirecting your focus to your senses and anchoring your awareness back to the present moment (3).

Enhances Emotional Regulation: Grounding yourself in the present moment can help you better manage your emotions and respond to situations more calmly and thoughtfully. Mindfulness practices like the 5 Senses have been linked to improved emotional regulation and resilience (4).

Improves Focus and Concentration: Regular practice of mindfulness exercises can enhance your ability to focus and concentrate, as it trains your brain to pay attention to the present moment (5).

A Simple Yet Powerful Tool

The 5 Senses mindfulness tool is a powerful practice for grounding yourself in the present moment and reconnecting with your body. By engaging your senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—you can shift your focus away from stressors and into a state of calm awareness. This practice not only enhances neural activity in regions of the brain associated with decision-making, emotional regulation, and interoceptive awareness but also helps reduce amygdala activity, which processes sensory input related to threats. As a result, the 5 Senses mindfulness technique facilitates the relaxation response, reduces overall stress, and promotes mental and emotional well-being.

Incorporating this practice into your daily routine can yield numerous benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, enhanced emotional regulation, and improved focus and concentration. By regularly engaging in this simple yet effective exercise, you can cultivate a stronger connection to the present moment and foster a greater sense of inner peace and resilience.


  1. Acevedo, B. P., Pospos, S., & Lavretsky, H. (2016). The neural mechanisms of meditative practices: Novel approaches for healthy aging. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 3, 328–339.
  2. Galvin, J. A., Benson, H., Deckro, G. R., Fricchione, G. L., & Dusek, J. A. (2006). The relaxation response: Reducing stress and improving cognition in healthy aging adults. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 12(3), 186-191.
  3. Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Palitz, S. A., Schwarz, N. R., Owens, M. E., Johnston, J. M., … & Simon, N. M. (2013). The effect of mindfulness meditation training on biological acute stress responses in generalized anxiety disorder. Psychiatry Research, 213(2), 113-117.
  4. Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36-43.
  5. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605.

The 5 Senses Mindfulness Technique