Activity Observe and Describe

This is a great first exercise to get you on the path of Mindfulness.  The goal is to practice observing and describing in a non-judgmental way. You might slip and judge yourself, and here is the key – if you do, don’t get mad. That would be called “judging the judging” and it’s kind of like throwing gasoline on a fire. If you find that you have judged yourself, let it go and move on. Think of a conveyor belt at the grocery store – let it fall on there and off it goes. No reason to hang onto it. This is actually a fun exercise to do with friends, so if you can get a few of you together, go for it!

Observing and Describing and Object Activity

Select an object, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If you have children, raid their toybox. If you are like me, just pick something off of your desk!

Take some time (you can decide how long) and study the object. How does it look, feel, smell? Try to put out of your mind the obvious of what it is and focus on the construction or design. If it is something in a package, maybe allow time for studying the object with the wrapper on and off, be sure to study the wrapper too.

When finished, talk about your item and what you observed. This is where you are going to remember to be non-judgemental. What was obvious? Were there things you never noticed before? Was there something that made you curious to study more?

Continue sharing about your experience. Discuss how taking time to focus on the object made you feel overall. Did you find yourself feeling more relaxed or any other way as you were mindful of the present activity and maybe not thinking about other things? Did your mind wander? How did you do with not judging yourself if you lost focus? This is where you give yourself a high-5 because you were willing to try the activity! Way to go!

Other variations

Some other ways to do this activity with a little twist include:

Non-Visual: Each person who is participating selects an object and puts it in a brown bag (like a lunch bag) so it is not visible to others. The bags are exchanged so no one has the one they brought. Without looking in the bags, take a set amount of time and feel around to see if you can figure out what the object is. You will be relying on your sense of touch for this one. When time is up, share what you think it is and why based on your experience and then pull the object out. Remember, no one is wrong, it is an exercise using our senses and focusing, not judging ourselves!!!

Food: Try something like raisins or mini peppermint patties (we did these in class). Observe the items in their packages and then taste them, taking time as you eat them, focusing on how they feel in your mouth, taste, etc. A classmate of mine swore he would never eat another peppermint patty again because he never relized how nasty the texture really was until he did this exercise. You never know what you might learn!

Charades: What better game to observe and describe than charades? As well, board games such as Pictionary or other games where you are describing words/drawings.