There are many good opportunities to use pleasure as a route to greater awareness and to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness exercises: on the beach, at the pool or in the mountains, under the sun or in the shade with a cool afternoon breeze – no matter whether sitting or lying down.
Simply close your eyes – without having to do or feel anything in particular – and perceive the sounds and noises around you: the sound of the sea, people talking, children playing, music in the distance, maybe a vehicle somewhere… As you continue to listen, feel the sensations on your skin: the sun and the temperature, the breeze, your clothes… Now also sense the weight of your body, while still continuing to perceive the sounds around you and the sensations on your skin. Send your senses inwards. Which zones in your body feel heavier? In which areas is there greater contact with the ground or deck chair…?
Simply FEEL. Feel your body and its weight, and listen to the sounds… Now pay attention to your breathing. Simply perceive that it exists and observe it: its sound, its motion, its rhythm, including its pauses… Maybe you can also perceive a smell: of the ocean, of sun cream, of food…
Spend a few more moments like this and allow your senses to perceive all these sensations without forcing anything, evaluating them or describing them with your intellect. Simply sense how you perceive them. Feel your sensitive body and your vitality, internally and externally. Breathe gently and calmly.
Open your eyes again as soon as you feel like it. Now you can try to maintain this full perceptiveness of all your senses. Give your creativity free rein on the sand or grass. Sketch a mandala with your finger in the sand or create it with stones, small shells, twigs or leaves… You can also use these small materials to build a little tower, laying them across one another and finding their balance as you find the best way of combining them.
And then allow a lovely smile to form on your lips as a sign of gratitude at being alive.
A note on the final, creative part: The small materials don’t need to be any larger than the size of your fingernail or finger. DON’T go looking for large stones. Then you can leave everything as you found it. This way, you don’t impact the environment and also show respect for other people. This also serves an exercise in letting go, just as with the large-scale Buddhist sand mandalas, which are swept up again once they have been completed.