Engaging ALL of the Senses – By Design

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We’ve spent these last five weeks taking apart and looking more closely at each of the senses. Now, it’s time to go back to the beginning and reassemble all the bits and pieces that we have uncovered.

Moving through these senses once again, the reminder to open your sense of Smell to receive the odors that are around you and allow them to stir the memories associated was also the call to reach back and keep those memories of joy and comfort continually alive and vibrant while creating new ones. Mark the change in the seasons using your sense of smell. The smell of Fall flowers and burning leaves are vastly different from the flowers of Spring. And the fires of wood in a fireplace in the Winter have a deeper aroma than those of burning leaves. The smell of your lover’s freshly washed body and the odor of sweat from a challenging work-out stir our emotions and draw us more deeply into awareness of the present moment.

The sense of Sight is what drew you to this blog and series of writings. Something you saw attracted you to read more and the words on the page stimulated within you a curiosity to know more. Taking in the sights, means exactly that! It is a way to connect and become part of what is occurring and evolving as you witness the glory of the event. Many people are uncomfortable with making eye contact. I find it to be the most enjoyable of experiences. There is so much you can learn about a person by looking them directly in the eyes. There is so much they can glean from you if you do not look away. Eyes are one of our most expressive of features so allow them to take in and express what is being seen. Allow yourself to react and respond to what you are seeing. Our minds are capable of holding many images; each serving as a reference point for a specific set of or singular experience. Open yourself up to adding purposefully to that storehouse and at the same time expanding your own world-view.

Perhaps one of the most important of the senses, Touch is the opportunity to merge and co-mingle with another human, animal or an object. In our current society, touch has many layers of meaning and we get lost in the analytical nature. Technology has created a type of disconnect that is masked by the perception that we are actually more in “touch”. In reality, what is grossly missing from that equation is the personal “in the presence of” moment where you can physically reach out a touch that (those) individual (s). Don’t waste a moment of “in the flesh” time to embrace, greet or otherwise touch. As humans we thrive on this type of interaction.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and every snack in between is a chance to indulge (not necessarily high caloric- LOL!) and take our sense of Taste on a grand culinary adventure. This is the armchair traveller at his/her finest. The seas of flavor and countries of gastronomic origin await our visit each day. The key is being mindful of the sensorial experience and offering the presence of gratitude and awareness of what we are sampling on this journey. As humans, we are privy as no other species to a banquet of foods each having their own specific signature of texture and taste. As Americans, food is in such abundance that we often forget the origins and hard work that went into its planting or feeding. Which, is why there is nothing quite as satisfying and flavorful as food we have grown ourselves or cooked from scratch.

The sense of Hearing and being heard are gifts we can give to ourselves and to others. Really listening; not just taking in the sound is a skill that requires development. Hearing requires paying attention and in the case of dialogue with another, engaging sight to give further detail to what is being heard. Being heard is what we desire. Being heard means that someone else is “really listening” to what we are communicating and is giving of their time and energy in being fully engaged in the conversation. As you go through your day, make note of how many opportunities presented where you could have “really heard” what was being said. And, then make note of how many of those times you seized the opportunity for a deeper connection. Do the same sort of analysis regarding how often you felt that no one was listening to you. And, how disconnected and isolated you felt by that experience.

I return to the thoughts I offered about the purpose of this blog and the call to embrace everything that is held in a physical existence…..

“This blog is meant to be that reminder as we look at the gifts of everyday experiences and cultivate the tools to strengthen these so the beauty and magick of the ordinary can become the gifts and tools of the extraordinarily Divine.”

By Design

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Living fully present means engaging all of the senses in all of your endeavors; even if this is not a pleasant process. Changing a baby’s diaper is not always a pleasant olfactory (smell) experience, but the love and tender care you are offering overrides this. The other consideration is that when you are familiar with the normal smell associated with this task, anything out of the ordinary can give you a heads up on an upcoming illness.

For me living in this sensorial way is to live by purposeful design. The tapestry of my physical experience is woven using the many threads that include tactile, sensorial, mental, emotional and more. The more I weave of this tapestry I am able to differentiate between what is common ground and what is disparity in my relationship with others and in the way I chose to live my life. The more I engage the physical tools I have to assess and categorize my experiences the greater the ability to determine a reaction or to response to similar experiences. And, ultimately the more I contribute to the design that is woven the more fully human I become.

End Note About This Series:

I hope you have enjoyed this exploration of the Senses and have gained some deeper insight on how to enhance and actively use them. Be sure to take a look at the collaborative posts in The Sacred Vessel Blog. As always, I welcome comments and suggestions about how I could have made this series more information.

 

Companion Post: Available Next Week

The Sacred Vessel
Sensing the Subtleties in ALL of Their Expression

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Join me for the Next Series beginning mid-August:

Acts of Contemplation
Exploring Focused Awareness, Stillness and Meditative Action

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Engaging the Senses: The Sense of Sight

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Image: Artist: Mirte Driessen

 

Part 2 of 5

The Sense of Sight

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, vision is:

the..“physiological process of distinguishing, usually by means of an organ such as the eye, the shapes and colors of objects.The Biological responses to stimulation by light, most often referring to the mechanism of vision.”

Your eyes are at work from the moment you wake up to the moment you close them to go to sleep. Everything we see is interpreted and categorized in accord with the spectrum and vibratory rate of the light emanating from said object. Through the gateway of the eyes the information is sent to your brain for processing, the neurological system responds to what is imprinted and the inner self becomes aware of what’s going on outside of and surrounding your physical body.

When looking at the varied learning styles, it has been proven that most people are visual learners. If you can provide something visual to support what is being learned the information will be processed more readily and easily with longer retention of that information. If, you also add a kinesthetic (movement or tactile sensation) component to that visual process, the entire body takes in the information; remembering the physiologic cues that enhanced the visual experience.

Observing the World Around You

It is through the sense of sight that we make our first judgment of a situation or thing. We then formulate an opinion which later plays out through newly informed action and the resultant decision-making about the information received. This process creates a data-base of information and stored images and if we engage our sense of vision in the most productive of ways, we will provoke an emotional response to what we see. Thereby, creating further pathways of stored information that can be drawn upon when encountering similar experiences. All of these actions are for the most part autonomic on their function. This is exemplified in the visceral reaction we may have to a certain image and we have no clue as to why this response occurs. On further examination, this image may represent one seen as a child that had negative emotions attached to it or even a movie that we don’t remember at the level of the conscious mind, but comes back as we reflect on possible triggers.

In this hurried pace of modern society many things go unnoticed. We see but we don’t truly process what we see and give space for allowing what we see to imprint more deeply on our consciousness. An excellent case in point is the visual offerings available within the public media. Violence abounds within this venue. After all, violence and sex sell. Many, however have become so numbed to these acts that they are no longer perceived with same visceral reaction that may have been engendered if this type of imagery were not so prevalent. If, however, we are bombarded with images of a loving and healing nature, our response to those in distress is generally motivated by the connectedness we may feel in relating to someone needing help and our own storehouse of positive and helpful imagery. It is for this reason that some, as they move forward on a humanity-centered spiritual path find it difficult to find entertainment in movies, music and books that are based upon less than humane acts. With the Summer fast upon us try looking with fresh eyes at the beauty of Nature that is blooming in its fullness.

We talked in the last post about the Sense of Smell. Remember to engage this sense as well. These go hand and hand in forming stronger memories.  I loved school and the imagery of Fall always triggers the anticipation and excitement  I had in selecting new school supplies. The chance encounters of a Fall smell (pumpkin, cinnamon, etc..) also stimulates images of shopping for those supplies, first days at school, etc..

The Inner Screen

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Some may consider the Inner Screen the space of imagination. This is the space of creation that we retreat to in the theater as we close our eyes during a piece of beautiful music and images gather on this inner screen creating the story or painting the abstracts of line and color that bring the vibrations heard to a space of visual life. This is the venue of the arm chair traveller who conjures up images of a chosen locale and clearly sees him/herself sipping wine on a beach at sunset or walking the streets of Venice in Spring. All the while these imag(inary) musings can occur discreetly within the individual amidst the daily drudgery of a crowded subway ride home or the noisy playground during a lunchtime break.

Visual artists instinctively use this inner screen as their metaphorical palette of inspiration when creating a new piece of art work. They are able to “see” the finished or in process project and then transfer this image to whatever medium they are working with. Our inner screen is the space of consciousness onto which we project the images we have stored, created or just seen. As we sit with eyes closed we enter our own personal internal space, upon which we may imagine, create and visualize the experience we wish to have. And, it is from this portal that we may then move those images of our consciousness out into manifest form through the act of creativity.

The Therapeutics of Sight – Visualization

“Holistic Online cites many university studies showing that visualization has remarkable physical health benefits, including boosting immunity, easing depression,decreasing and alleviating headaches and often, seeing yourself healthy in your mind, or visualizing the image of a healthy body, is enough for your body to understand it as truth.”1.

Some simple practices that are used to develop visualization skills involve observation and memory. Focusing your attention on a specific object and then recreating that image on your inner screen. These techniques are also used in law enforcement, business interactions, sports and more.

“Visualization techniques have proven to be invaluable in crime analysis. By interviewing and observing Criminal Intelligence Officers (CIO) and civilian crime analysts at the Tucson Police Department (TPD), we identified two crime analysis tasks that can especially benefit from visualization: crime pattern recognition and criminal association discovery.”2.

The more capable we are at making varied observations and then storing those images for later retrieval the more likely the criminal will be caught and the occasional business liaison will be vastly impressed that you remember them. In spiritual work, candle gazing is a staple practice to develop visualization skills (more about this next week in the Sacred Vessel post).

Seeing Clearly Practice:

A Daily Observation

Select an activity that you regularly and routinely do such as walking or driving (safety first, please) to work or school, a class you attend, your favorite coffee shop, etc… For at least one full week each day make a note of one thing new that you observe that you never noticed before. It can be something as trivial as noting how long a light takes to change or something more covert such as the first bud of a flower or plant. Each day try to “see” something new. Becoming more aware of the little details that cross your path each day, you become more aware of the inter-connectedness of all things. You will also more clearly see what effect you may have on that minor detail, or how it may effect you in ways you were unaware of previously.

Some Resources for a closer look:
All Museums and Great Works of Art
Your Family and Friends
Your Home
Picture Albums

Companion Post: Next Week
The Sacred Vessel
The Subtleties of the Senses: Sight

Quotes:

1. Meditation and Visualization. Gaiam Life
2. Extract of Article: Visualization in Law Enforcement.

Resources:

Seeing is Believing: The Power of Visualization by Angie LeVan, MAPP
Psychology Today Magazine

Interesting article about imagery and healing:
Dr. Gerald Epstein. “THE IMAGINAL, THE RIGHT HEMISPHERE OF THE BRAIN, AND THE WAKING DREAM”

Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training by Christopher Clary. NYTimes 2014

Visualize Like An Athelete by NBA Coach Phil Jackson

Next Post: “Engaging the Senses”
Part 3: The Sense of Touch

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About This Series:

This five-part posting will take a closer look at each of the senses that are part of our greater learning and growing experience. Each of the five senses plays a significant role in how we process the information of our human experience and these lessons serve as the foundations of our use of sensation in ephemeral and spiritual experience. Each contributes a specific energy and working collaboratively they offer the keys to memory, expansion of consciousness, engagement in the physical world and doorways to the inner planes of wisdom.

There are collaborative posts speaking to the Spiritual overlays of each of the senses in the Sacred Vessel Blog that may be accessed the week after this posting.

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