Quickly adapt to your surroundings with 5,4,3,2,1 grounding

In order to conform to the circumstances and environments that surround us, we first need to assess where we are at any given moment, and come to grips with the particulars of our situation.

Grounding exercises can be a great way of immediately assessing our environment, and bringing us into the moment so we may approach any situation with a full awareness of where we are at any given moment.

When we’re faced with change, a good grounding exercise to practice is the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique, which incorporates the five senses to fully absorb our current surroundings.

By taking just a few moments to identify our immediate surroundings, we can generate a feeling of comfort in any particular situation, and ground ourselves into our environment, taking shape with what surrounds us.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding technique

You can practice this technique while seated in the immortal position (described in the water mediation chapter), or sitting or standing in any situation. Before you begin, take a moment to focus on your breathing (see the next chapter on ki breathing) to fully focus on yourself and your surroundings.

  1. Open your eyes and look around at your surroundings. Identify five specific objects that you can see. Describe each to yourself in detail; if you are in an office, you might see a chair, and take note of its color, pattern, size, etc.
  2. Close your eyes and listen to your surroundings. Identify four sounds that you can distinctly hear, and describe them to yourself in detail. It might be a radio playing in the distance, people chatting in the room next door, or the faint hum of a computer.
  3. Assess your immediate surroundings, and take note of three objects that you can feel. Touch them and note how they feel as precisely as possible.
  4. Try to identify two distinct odors that you can smell. They may be from a perfume, food, or anything else. Even if you can’t place a particular odor, try to describe it to yourself in detail.
  5. Identify one thing that you can taste. It might be the lingering taste of your lunch, the gum you are chewing, or just a sip of water.

This grounding technique gets us to pause for a moment and completely take in our immediate surroundings. By doing this, we placing ourselves in the moment and coming to better terms with the immediate world that surrounds us.

Using our five senses in this specific way helps us get a grip of the specific situation we are in, and better helps us adapt to that situation. In other terms, it helps us identify the container that surrounds us so that we may take the form of that container.

This technique also has a practical application that yields an immediate benefit. If you find yourself in a place that you are unfamiliar with, a quick rundown of the things that surround us, sense by sense, can help you to quickly adapt to a new or unexpected situation and generate a feeling of comfort.


At MaArtial, we believe that fully taking in our environment and noticing things that we haven’t noticed before is a great way of fully appreciating the present and transporting our minds to a zen-like state.

The above technique helps train us to use all of our available senses to fully absorb our surroundings, and become familiar with our environment in a way that we may not have previously been.

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Photo: Victor Freitas on Unsplash, Renphoto/Getty Images

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