Leading fast pace lives with constant distraction and stimulation can dull our senses, making us miss countless opportunities for joy and appreciation. One of the most direct and effective ways we can feel more connected to the present moment is by tuning into any, or all, of our five physical senses by developing sensory awareness.
Fun Facts About the Senses
- Our five physical senses are sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.
- We have up to 8,000 taste buds (in our tongue, throat and oesophagus), the cells of which are replaced every 2 weeks.
- Our taste buds categorise flavours into five types – bitter, salty, savoury, sour and sweet.
- Without our sense of smell we wouldn’t be able to taste most of the flavours in our food.
- Touch also plays a part in eating, e.g. texture and temperature of food.
The Benefits of Using our Senses
- Leading fast pace lives with constant distraction and stimulation can dull our senses, making us miss countless opportunities for joy and appreciation.
- One of the most direct and effective ways we can feel more connected to the present moment is by tuning into any, or all, of our five physical senses.
- Sensory awareness means paying attention to a particular sensory aspect to enhance an experience, e.g. noticing the colour, shape, texture and smell of an item of food before you eat it to enhance the experience (i.e. foodgasm!) rather than just chewing and swallowing on auto pilot.
- Before computers provided data analysis, people like doctors relied on their sensory awareness for patient diagnosis, e.g.:
- Sight – the colour of their skin
- Sound – their heartbeat
- Smell – breath, urine, faeces
- Touch – checking their pulse
- Imagine if they stopped using their senses?
- Ships have collided due to relying on electronic command instead of humans just using their eyes to spot other traffic in the water and manual steering to avoid them. Traditional seamanship skills would also have included noticing things like changes in the wind, stars, waves and birdlife to guide them.
- Similar to people who have to train their senses for their jobs or safety, to enhance your sensory experiences, you need to make a conscious effort to store that awareness in your brain so you can recall it when wanted or needed. Think of the last time you went on holiday – you were probably aware of the scenery, the food, the sounds, etc. but how many of those things do you remember now?
Sensory Awareness Exercises
If you can, do this sensory awareness training exercise outside.
- Get into your meditation posture or just sitting on a chair (knees lower than hips, back upright, shoulders relaxed, soft facial muscles, eyes closed if comfortable).
- Place one hand on your chest and the other one on your belly.
- Begin practising your mindful breathing (breathing in and out through your nostrils).
- Notice the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body via your anchor point (nostrils, chest or belly).
- Name 5 things you can see (picture items in the room before you closed your eyes)
- Name 4 things you can hear
- Name 3 things you can smell
- Name 2 things you can taste
- Name 1 thing you can feel (touch)
Other sensory awareness exercise ideas:
- Wear a blindfold around your room or house (with someone to guide you).
- Walk barefoot on grass on concrete.
- Count how many times you hear the same sound in a day that you would normally ignore, e.g. a door opening, toilet flushing, tap running.
Learn more about Sensory Awareness and how to develop it further in my online course Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners.