Through our fingertips, we can turn even the most mundane activity into a journey of discovery.
Make a ritual of washing your face. Patti Pitcher, co-founder of the Isabella catalog of "books and tools for awakening the spirit," discovered that the simple act of caring for her skin resulted in heightened sensory awareness. "The cleansing is an awakening experience for me every time," she says. "The more sensitive the tips of my fingers become, the more alive my face feels and the more connected I become."
Fill a basket with small objects that offer tactile pleasure—a smooth stone, a chip of beach glass, a shell, a pinecone, a gnarled twig. When you've acquired a dozen or so items, hold the basket on your lap and close your eyes. Pick up each article, one by one, and explore it with your fingers, noting its texture, temperature, weight and shape. (This is a wonderful activity to try with children. So often they are admonished, "Don't touch!" What a treat it is to be invited to touch to their heart's content!)
Living mindfully, we discover that a rich and fulfilling sensory diet is a matter of selection. Just as we can choose foods to nourish our bodies, we can choose sensory experiences that refresh our souls. The spurt of grapefruit on the tongue, a cheek turned to the sun, Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach—such gifts to the senses remind us that we are alive and receiving the grace of the world.
Katrina Kenison is the author of Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, published by Warner Books.
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From the May 2000 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.