Create a mindfulness first-aid kit to support your neutral observance of the present moment with acceptance, including items for each of your five senses.

1. Before you even begin, notice your attitude. Do you feel excited, or perhaps pressured to come up with something “creative” or “perfect”?

2. Select a specific place to keep this kit. Do you anticipate needing it most at work, at home, or on the bus? You can keep it in a drawer or take it with you in a purse or bag. Determine the most appropriate place to keep it.

3. Select a few items as your go-to objects for mindful attention…include a variety of objects, too.

4. Don’t pick items that will bring up a lot of thoughts. You’ll use these things as objects of attention, not inspiration. So, for example, a collection of poems wouldn’t be an appropriate selection unless you plan to spend time appreciating the curves of the font instead of considering the content of the passages. Such is the difference between mindful attention and thinking.

As you decide what specifically to include, remember that your items don’t need to be related thematically. Simply select objects you find enjoyable….

  • Visually, select a picture or object that’s not too thought provoking or emotionally stimulating. Something pleasant fits the bill….
  • Taste wise, pick something that has a reasonably long shelf life, like a granola bar or a piece of chocolate….
  • For sound, use either a guided meditation or prayer, or a few select songs. Though relaxing and soothing, nature sounds don’t lend themselves readily to mindfulness practice. Because these recordings are often looped, they’re repetitive, which can lead us to tune things out more easily….
  • For touch, your object can be anything with a notable texture or temperature, like a rock, a piece of fabric, or an instant ice pack….
  • Because smell is a particularly strong sense for us, many nice possibilities are available [like coffee beans, air freshener, perfume-scented magazine inserts].

Consider combining some of these sensory elements in a way that makes sense or promotes a peaceful ritual. For example, if you include a tea bag, you can smell it first, feel the warm mug as it brews, and taste it once it’s ready.

Jonathan S. Kaplan in Urban Mindfulness