THE BLOG
02/23/2012 08:33 am ET Updated Apr 24, 2012

Portkeys to Inner Peace: 5 Doorways to Serenity

It's tempting to think that you need the tropical beach, the hammock by the lake, the walk in the woods, the yoga retreat or the special meditation cushion in order to feel the "ahhhhh" of inner peace. We all have certain props or places that we use to jump start that special sensation of anchored contentment.

But what if, like the witches and wizards of Hogwarts, you could be transported to a place of peace whenever you want? What if your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and fingertips were actually portkeys to mindfulness and that feeling of deep inner stillness and peace? Mindfulness is the ancient art of attentive awareness to your present circumstances. Going to that place of mindfulness can produce a feeling of calm and contentment. When you use these shortcuts every day, calm and serenity quickly become your home.

Eyes (Big Sky) -- So often we're completely wrapped up in our own agendas and activities and we forget to look up at the sky. The next time you're walking outside (to your car from your errands, walking the dog, walking to work), look upward. Note the color, note whether there are clouds. Spend a moment identifying a shape in the clouds (haven't done that since you were a kid, right?) Take a deep breath, breathing "in" the sky and, as you exhale long and slow, think, "The spaciousness above me is mirrored in the spaciousness within me."

Ears (The Sounds of Silence) -- Stop and listen. Let your ears carry you into mindfulness. Do you hear the computer humming? Dogs barking? Colleagues chatting? Children arguing? Cars honking? Roosters crowing? Don't judge or label the sounds, just listen. Shifting your attention to the sounds around you momentarily ceases the stream of thoughts in your head. Do this several times a day and watch you stress levels drop.

Nose (Stop and Smell the Roses) -- Next time you're in the shower follow your nose. Intentionally smell your soap, your body wash, your shampoo, your conditioner. The fragrances of most bath products now are so intense that you will easily go off on an olfactory adventure. White nectarine and coral flowers... fusion orchid and coconut milk... french lavender and lemongrass. Inhale deeply, still your mind and start fresh every day.

Tongue (Gourmet Tranquility) -- Every time you eat is an opportunity to slow down and let your taste buds carry you into the present moment. Notice the texture, the smell, the taste of each bite. Feel the food on your teeth and on your tongue. Let yourself connect with the food and its deliciousness. As you keep your attention on your food, you give your mind a break from its usual ramblings. Take a moment at every meal to dwell in stillness.

Hands (Calming Touch) -- While either sitting up or lying down, put one hand over your heart and the other hand on your lower belly. As you breath in and exhale slowly, feel the movement of your chest and stomach. Let the feelings in your hands take all your attention. These actions activate your parasympathetic nervous system, causing your body to calm down and relax. Breathe deeply, appreciate the momentary sense of stillness and let yourself feel held in a compassionate embrace.

Spa days are generally few and far between. But "Shortcuts to Inner Peace" are at our disposal every moment of every day. Use your five portkeys everyday to give yourself a break from stressful thinking and activate your sensory journey to serenity.

For more by Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

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