August 5, 2021

Simple Mindful Exercise: Practice The 5-4-3-2-1 Method

Mindfulness practices don't have to be tedious. 

You can practice this exercise anytime, anywhere. A 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness practice can drop you into the present moment, reducing experiences of anxiety and stress.

How does it work?

Start by taking a few, slow deep breaths. You have arrived, you are at home in the body. Now, slowly work your way through the list spelled out below. Breathe deeply, pause, and take a few moments to engage with the exercise after you read each item.

5 — Take a look around you and notice five things that you see. 

4 — Notice four things that you are physically touching.

3 — Listen for three different things that you can hear.

2 — Smell for two things that you can smell.

1 — Check within and notice one emotion that you're currently experiencing.

When we tune into our senses, we engage with a mind-body connection in the moment. Creating a few mindful minutes within our body pulls us away from anxious, future thoughts, or contemplative, past thinking. It can be difficult to pull ourselves into the present moment, primarily when we're stressed, engaged in mundane routines, or can't get our minds to slow down. 

Mindfulness takes us beyond coping with the struggles of life and it brings us into a more empowered state. We have more choice in how we react to our experiences when we're engaged in the present. This exercise helps you appreciate exactly where you are and what you are doing.

We all strive to be better employees, friends, and versions of ourselves. Dropping into the present moment in this way allows us to show up in all areas of life. After all, Deepak Chopra said, "Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment." 

The 5-4-3-2-1 method can be practiced anytime, anywhere. anywhere and anytime. Whether we’re walking to work, bored at home, or resting before bed. Anytime that you feel the need to be more present is the time to employ this helpful mindfulness practice.

Below is an example of the practice:


  1. The flickering candle
  2. The tree branches outside my window
  3. The cat curled up
  4. My scribbled notes
  5. A photo on my nightstand


  1. The soles of my feet against the carpet
  2. My back leaning against the chair
  3. The bracelet dangling off my wrist
  4. My blanket draped across my lap


  1. The hum of the air conditioner
  2. A car passing by outside
  3. The music playing in an adjacent room


  1. The eucalyptus candle
  2. The faint smell of mulch from outside


  1. Relieved 

Tips to help with this practice

  • If you find yourself getting off track, take a deep breath and pick up where you left off. The 5-4-3-2-1 practice is a mindfulness exercise, not a competition!
  • Try not to judge or associate each thing with something else. Notice each item as you move through.
  • Deep breathing throughout the practice will only enhance how mindful you feel!

Mindfulness is at the core of deep meditation practices and is crucial to practice mindfulness to dive deeper into a meditation journey. If meditation isn't your ultimate goal, methods like this still have incredible benefits on your life as a whole. Being mindful in each moment allows you to authentically experience your emotions, the people around you, and the places you visit.