Awaken to Your Senses
“Lose your mind and come to your senses.” ~ Fritz Perls
POST WRITTEN BY KIM KRUYSMAN
OK, I admit it. There have been many times in my life where I was completely swallowed up by distractions. I’m a recovering distraction addict. It’s not easy in today’s world not to be addicted to distractions. I look around and see that it seems to be an epidemic in our society, that we are having great difficulty turning the outside world off and turning on our awareness of our basic senses.
I am more aware now and so much happier than seven years ago. Back then, there were a few years where I got wrapped up in unhealthy patterns. I was pretty miserable when I worked seventy hour weeks and skipped exercising for bags for chips at the computer, when I felt sad and depressed because I was missing field trips at my kids schools, when I wasn’t fully paying attention to the people and world around me and had my phone in my ear all the time, when I felt the rays of the fluorescent lighting more than the rays of the sun, when I finally made it out of debt and was kicking butt in my career but had no time for myself, my family, or my friends.
I now love tuning in and awakening to my senses. Yoga and meditation brought me back to my senses, but these are not the only ways. It is a great feeling to be aware and present, it’s like slipping into a warm bath. It slows everything down and brings me a sense of happiness, peace, and calm.
Our five senses are how we perceive the world around us and this information is sent upstairs to our computer, the central processing unit for our bodies, our brains. Our bodies are miraculous! And we completely take this all for granted, I mean how often do we think about our senses at all, much less think of our senses as gifts and bring awareness to what these gifts can offer us?
I challenge you to bring awareness to your senses which will allow you to be more present in life. Here are some tips to help you get started and tools to wake up those senses and bring more joy into your life:
- Seeing. The gift of sight is the first miraculous gift of the senses. We were given this gift to see and be aware of all that surrounds us. Are you seeing the colors in the sky before the sun is visible? are you seeing the disappointment in your child’s eyes when they are talking and you are not looking at them? are you seeing the tiniest insects scattering as you are watering the plants? Are you seeing the expressions and body language of the people you are talking to? Challenge yourself to be mindful of how much you can see in a day by asking yourself this question. If today were the last day I would have my vision, what am I choosing to see today?
- Hearing. We all chuckle and kick ourselves when we think back to the times we chose to “not” hear our parents when they were yelling to turn the music down. And so it goes, the same for each generation. We take our hearing for granted. I read somewhere that the hearing aids industry is expected to reach over nine billion by 2022. I’m feeling blessed for my hearing and if you are blessed to be able to hear, then listen. Listen to the birds singing in the morning, listen to your loved one’s voices while they are here to hear, and listen to the sound of the waves at the beach. Try this exercise: Close your eyes and take notice of how many different sounds you can hear, do this several times a day to strengthen your hearing awareness. I often start a Yoga class by bringing awareness to the sounds in the room, outside, and in our bodies.
- Touching. If I asked you to name the people you know who communicate with their touch, I bet you could think of at least a few people right away. Those people who touch your hand or shoulder while talking, or that person who gives the most awesome hugs, and some of those people I bet have reached right in and touched your heart. I have a friend that if someone says her name, I instantly think about her hugs. Honestly, her hugs have raised the bar for all hugs. Every hug she gives is like she hasn’t seen you in forever, or will never see you again, memorable. Hugs are memorable. Touch makes a profound statement. Even a handshake can communicate a first impression such as strength or weakness. Touch is associated with well-being and conveys compassion and connection so try adding just a little more touch into your life. Awaken to the gift of touch by noticing the little things. Notice how nice it feels to hold a warm mug filled with your morning coffee, how the leaves of a plant feel, how soft the fur of cat’s belly is, or how nice it feels to hold hands or hug someone. How about holding a baby, I love to feel the softness of a baby’s cheeks. It makes me smile to remember rubbing my cheeks against my own babies when they were little.
- Smell. My dad has Parkinson’s disease and lost his smell in his fifties. I think this makes me more fully aware of smells. We can get by just fine without our sense of smell, but we should savor this sense like a glass of fine wine. I love to stop and smell flowers on my walks, I close my eyes and breathe in the smell of delicious foods cooking so deeply I think my soul can taste them. I rub essential oils into my hands, cup my hands over my nose, and breathe in the essence of these smells until the smell drifts away. Not everyone enjoys this one the same as me, but If I drive by a farm and smell horse manure, it brings me back to riding my horse as a kid and happy memories. Take time to stop and smell the roses throughout the day and everything else you can smell while you are at it.
- Taste. Eat, drink, and be merry. Seriously. Our brains are doing the work so we should enjoy. We have anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 taste buds in our mouth, tongue, and throat. The food we eat might start in our mouths with the taste buds, but molecules head to the olfactory nerve endings of the nose, and messages are sent to the brain to join with smell messages, which ultimately leads us to believe we are tasting the flavor. Wherever the flavors are registering, there is no doubt that tasting can be truly enjoyable. Awaken to the taste of foods, slow down your eating, notice the texture and taste of foods, be mindful of the foods you are eating as you will feel good about fueling your body when you choose healthy meals. And lastly, eat meals together with others. It’s proven that eating communal meals has health benefits and can add years to your life.
To be aware and present invites a deepening of our life experience in addition to increasing feelings of gratitude, happiness, awe, and appreciation. Enjoy more of the moments in life. Many of the truly incredible and intense experiences we have in life, tend to combine the five senses. You will now be more aware of what senses are activating when you are enjoying life.