Sensory meditation focuses on taking in the world around you through your body and celebrates being present to a particular sensory experience. Sensory meditation uses one or several of the five senses—listening to sounds, soft gazing, inhaling aromas, feeling with your hands or other body parts, and tasting—to fully experience the present moment. By allowing the sensations of a particular sensory organ to become the object of attention, the messages transmitted by our other sensory organs just drift away. The sense becomes an overt conduit for all information coming into your body, and all of your thoughts melt into the precious present moment as it unfolds.
Through this practice, you can learn how to develop a deeper awareness using your senses. In time, this awareness will offer you insights into an aspect of yourself that rests beneath your senses—your energetic self—known in Sanskrit as the pranamaya kosha. Literally, prana means vital energy; maya means illusion; and kosha means layer. So this aspect of yourself is the illusionary layer of vital energy!
My favorite sensory meditation is the chocolate meditation! Aroma and tasting meditations are more like experiential immersions rather than meditations, but they can be a sweet doorway to present-moment awareness. In aroma meditations, the object of your attention is your nose and the gentle breath that wafts into your nostrils. This inhalant can be anything: the earthy aromas of a pine- or cedar-filled forest; the intense, snaking smoke ribbon of incense; the subtle, intoxicating fragrance of essential oils; the salty mist of the ocean frothing at the shore; the aromatic bouquet that lifts off a copper karahi sizzling a curry; even the comforting first whiffs of our morning coffee brewing.
TRY IT! You can delicately savor a truffle or another fine piece of chocolate as if it were the last piece of chocolate on earth, truly taking your time to feel its textures, density, aromas, complexity of flavors, and intricacy of fragrances until you are the chocolate . . . and it is you.
You can perform this meditation alone or with others. I like to celebrate/meditate in this way at least one meal a week.
Learn more about types of sensory meditations in my book “Secrets of Meditation.”