Stop to Smell the Roses – Mindfulness Practice

April 7, 2021
Women smelling rose

This time of year I love to be outside enjoying the springtime and all that it offers to each of my five senses! Recently I was walking near my neighbors’ front yard when I noticed the rich scent of fresh-cut grass and damp earth. It was so overwhelming that it caught my complete attention. My eyes took in the color of the grass, and I became very aware of the present moment. I let go of the thoughts that had been drifting in and out of my mind, and tuned into the present moment – the NOW. In that moment, I was reminded of the old saying to “Stop and Smell the Roses.” In this case, the fresh cut grass!

Five senses: listen, feel, look, smell, tasteStopping to smell the roses is a metaphorical reminder to pause, look up from the things that we become busy with, and take in our surroundings. It’s a way to practice mindfulness, which can help clear away the mental clutter and increase focus, while fostering a greater sense of well-being and happiness. It also offers us the opportunity to take in our environment and to be grateful for the beauty that we interact with each day. Stopping to smell the roses, as a mindfulness practice, invites us to pause, reconnect with ourselves, and focus our energy and attention on our breath and the scents of nature.

I know that including a mindfulness practice in your day might seem like yet another thing to add to your “to-do” list. Yet, these practice suggestions are simple to implement into your daily routine, and provide many opportunities to practice being in the present moment. Below are three simple practices you can easily add to your daily routine:

Drink a Glass of Water
Edie smelling a fresh-cut lemonTransform your glass of water into a mindfulness practice by following these steps:

  • Cut a fresh lemon and squeeze it into your water. (Or watch Teacher Abby’s video on Infused Water recipes for other suggestions.)
  • Notice the texture, color, and firmness of the fruit.
  • Take a moment to look at the segments of the lemon.
  • What do you see? Before squeezing the lemon in your water, smell it. How does it smell?
  • Let yourself be curious about the lemon for a moment. Citrus is said to be an uplifting scent that boosts creativity!

Take a Walk Outside
Add a mindful twist to your daily walk by following these steps:

  • Take a walk in your neighborhood. Spring is in the air and trees and flowers are blooming everywhere!
  • What do you notice when you step outside?
  • Notice if you are standing in the sun or the shade and how the temperature feels.
  • What do you hear as you walk? Do you hear your footsteps?
  • What do you see? Stop and look around as you walk. Is there something you haven’t noticed before?

Today I noticed that the lavender plants around my home are blooming and the bees are busily buzzing from flower to flower. Lavender is a softly scented plant, one that I think many of us are familiar with as it can be calming and help reduce stress. I keep a lavender sachet (grown, harvested, and assembled by Sunflower Hill program participants) near my bed. I make a habit of inhaling the scent a few times before I get ready for bed to signal my mind that it’s time to rest.

Cook Dinner
Edie smelling a lavender plantInfuse mindfulness into your dinner preparation by following these steps:

  • Cooking with a favorite herb can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs to use in cooking. I love the scent and the flavor it brings to food. The next time you make roasted potatoes or veggies, try adding the leaves of the rosemary plant. You may also find a rosemary plant the next time you take a walk in your neighborhood!
  • Using rosemary or your favorite herb, touch the herb branch or leaves. How does it feel? Is it soft or rough? Dry or wet?
  • Notice the color of the herb branch and leaves. How many colors do you see?
  • Notice the amazing aroma that is left on your hands after taking the leaves off of the branch.
  • Take a moment to enjoy the scent. In aromatherapy, rosemary is said to be uplifting and improve memory. I think it’s invigorating! What scent do you notice from your herb?

Most importantly, as you practice remember to pause, notice something that you find beautiful in your environment, and take a moment to appreciate it. Taking time to Stop and Smell the Roses by including a short mindfulness practice throughout your day may help you decrease anxiety and find greater happiness.


Story by: Edie Nehls, Sunflower Hill Executive Director
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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