Grace Notes

a blog about life’s everyday magic

November 9, 2016

Finding Stillness Through the Senses

Photo by Eli DeFaria

Words: Tracy Macdonald
Photo credit: Eli DeFaria


Sometimes I just want a “do-over.”


Have you ever felt that way? You wake up and things just don’t flow well… the coffee spills, the toddler doesn’t want to wear clothes to school, or time gets away from you. You haven’t showered, eaten, or dressed, and the clock rattles, “You’re late!”
All is not lost for the day.


The phrase “it’s not what happens, it’s how you react to it” is easier said than done, but you can have a “do-over.”


Just breathe and tune into the senses.


This is a quick meditative practice that helps to find stillness, be present, and reset. Focusing inward helps to take your mind off of things and feel more centered. With pen and paper in hand, head outside or to a space that feels calm, and quickly jot down a few thoughts for each of the senses (whatever pops into your head first). I will write down my notes from today as an example…


What you HEAR. A rooster, a woodpecker, the hum of life, trucks downshifting on the hill across the road, birds chirping, a fountain, dogs barking, a child’s laughter.


What you FEEL. Tension in my jaw. Frustration and emotional that I raised my voice at my son this morning. Cool tiles below my bare feet. The weight of the pen in my fingers, the scratchiness of the paper, sunlight on my skin, warm air moving by, and gratitude for a moment of tranquility.


What you SEE. Swaying tree branches, lizards sunning, clouds moving in. Purple jacaranda blossoms. New rose buds in the garden. The silhouette of mountains against the pale sky. The linear pattern on a fallen leaf. Reflection of the trees in the patio glass door.


What SCENTS you detect. This is a great one to tune inward. Today, I am in a garden with freshly cut grass and can smell pool chlorine in my hair mixed with the aroma of coffee.


Pausing to notice the details around me, if only for a few minutes, provides a stronger foundation from which to spring into the rest of my day. Body tension softens, thoughts get quieter, and there is a clearer lens through which to view life.


I feel more rooted and connected to self.


With a renewed perspective, my actions and interactions stem from a place of deeper gratitude, and I am able to enjoy simple pleasures.


Now it’s your turn. May you embrace a state of calm.


Tracy Macdonald is a Cairo-based artist with a passion for writing, mixed-media art, photography, travel, and exploring. She has loved to create since she was a young girl and desires to always make art a focal point in her life. Tracy embraces every day by recognizing the beauty that surrounds her and by exploring all that inspires her soul. Check out her blog at


What methods do you find useful to center yourself and reset? Share with us in the comments below.

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Tisa Hosford

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Alone in nature always revives me, walking ‘the road less traveled”.

  2. Cindy La Ferle

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I needed this today — thanks for the gentle reminder. Lovely post.

  3. Sheila Nakata

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I am learning to take a step back from moments of being frazzled, by purposefully being still. This article helps direct me toward a deeper calm, focusing on the senses, journaling those senses…simple and so renewing! Thank you!

  4. Elizabeth Robertson Waggoner

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    The best way I’ve found to calm down is to step away. Hopefully grab a cup of coffee or tea and step outside into quiet to just breathe for a few minutes.

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