I dare to say that most likely you are not taking advantage of your five senses.
Chances are that you just like me always use your senses automatically, mindlessly and without appreciation for what value in life they bring to you. Using them to your advantage, or in other words, using the full potential of your senses to benefit your health and wellbeing is not what you’re conscious about. Or are you?
I’ve been sharing about my book Sensuous: Reconnect with your senses at home with women on social media and the response I often received was “but I’m already using my senses”.
Yes, you are, there’s no denying in that because using your senses is a given, a normal thing, a natural part of your day and life.
And here’s why I feel called to kindly and courageously challenge the depth of this belief and draw your attention to the seven truths revealing why you’re not using your senses to their highest potential and to your advantage.
You’re using senses mindlessly most of the time.Just because as a baby you learnt to use your senses through sensory play and education it doesn’t mean you’re continuing to use them in that same joyful, nurturing, awe-inspiring and confidence building way. Life and problems take over, and we lose the mastery of being aware of the sensations that different things bring to your body. Too often only negative sensations tend to be noticed and the positive ones...well, you tune them out. You forget to notice, appreciate them, absorb the sensations and express positive feelings, particularly pleasure, that those sensations bring to you.
You aren’t using your senses to benefit your health and wellbeing.Think about senses as your wellness service. You can wait for your car to break or you can service it so it doesn’t. To do that you’d need to be consistent, mindful and committed to give yourself self care daily, not only when shit hits the fan and your body starts to send warning signals. Did you know that according to online mind/body resource, Living Self Care, 'Self-care tends to improve our immunity, increase positive thinking and make us less susceptible to stress, depression, anxiety, and other emotional health issues.' Ayurveda, a traditional Hindu system of medicine explains that just as the food we eat creates our bodily tissues, our sensory impressions determine the quality of our thoughts and emotions and help us regulate our nervous system and sleep quality. So when you give yourself care, nourishment, restoration, and attention you move from a highly activated state of 'fight or flight' to the '’rest and digest' mode. When this change happens, the mind and body feel supported, nourished, rejuvenated and more harmonious, and often as a result, inflammation quiets, digestion strengthens and the hormonal body calibrates.
You aren’t challenging yourself enough to expand the palette of your senses,which means you mostly use and notice the senses within a confined range of stimulus. Something that you know already works for you. It’s good to have your secure go tos, although allowing yourself to operate within a narrow range of used senses limits your perception and wellbeing potential. For instance, you repeatedly cook the same meals despite wanting to try Sri Lankan cuisine for a long time which means you don’t give yourself an opportunity to tickle your taste buds and expand your taste palette. Also seeing a different dish on your plate can give you a great sense of achievement, joy and satisfaction. You exercise using the same Peloton bike or kettlebell - you’re familiar with the sensations these pieces of equipment bring to you while working out. But have you wondered how it would feel if you had an online belly dance class while wearing a fabulous scarf with golden coins around your hips? What about sitting quietly in front of a candle flame and staring at it for 10 minutes? I’m inviting you to go wild, try and see what sensations would a sense challenge evoke in you.
You’re using daily self-care and self-love products superficially and automatically.Not your fault. Product makers are not really teaching or guiding you how to extract the most value, engage your senses and benefit you deeper from the daily products they sell to you. Think about shampoo, conditioner or hair mask that by nature have sensuous features in them and could be released when you use them. Instead, they sell the opportunity to get your hair clean, frizz-free and moisturised. Candle makers mostly sell you ambience in your environment. Cashmere sweater designers sell you a luxury look and feel. But you’re not invited to engage your sense of smell, touch and sight, or to create small mindful daily rituals with those items that have enormous hidden capacity to relax your nervous system and increase your sensory awareness of yourself in the here and now. These rituals are there to give you the opportunity to get you out of your mind and into your body. This is very powerful stuff behind the obvious items we use daily but without awareness and intention.
You aren’t using your senses to bring you more pleasure to your daily life- which is a much needed ingredient for a passionate, joyful and enjoyable life. Pleasure can be a tricky thing for many of us because we feel shame, discomfort or guilt to enjoy pleasure at home. Pleasure demands time and attention from you and it can only be achieved by creating those moments of pleasure or stopping to fully enjoy the already happening experience. Your beliefs can come into play too. You might believe that you and your partner work and look after the family all the time and there’s simply no place left for pleasure. I hear you and understand you. In all those cases even drinking fresh mint tea or eating home baked lemon drizzle cake is not seen as a moment to really feel the pleasure of having delicious taste in your mouth. Shall we change that already today?
You aren’t using your senses to build a deeper, kinder relationship with yourself.Who thinks that using your senses mindfully would give you valuable insights into your life and your relationship with yourself? The truth is that your relationship with senses has the power to show you your inhibitions, limitations, beliefs and attitudes towards self-care, pleasure, time spent for your mental and physical needs and deeply knowing yourself. Senses have the power to lead you to discover your true wants and desires, your definite nos and ultimate go tos. You learn your healthy boundaries and your comfortable sensuous adventures. Curiously, openly and courageously experimenting with experiencing different sensations builds confidence and all that creates a deeper and kinder relationship with yourself. It’s very sense-positive! So when was the last time you considered looking at the burning candle as not a waste of time but creating a deeper and kinder relationship with yourself?
You aren’t using your senses to help you in your interpersonal relationships.Again, who would have thought that senses are so powerful that stimulating, increasing the range and using them mindfully would spill over and influence your interpersonal relationships? But it does. The more you know yourself, what tickles your senses, how to bring pleasure to yourself and become comfortable with pleasure experienced on your own, the more you’ll carry that confidently with you into romantic, or even into social relationships. Or in other words, the more you practice, the wider your range of experiences, the more comfortable you are with it all, the more positively complex can be your interactions with others.
Which truth made you pause and think - “Aha, this resonates with me at the moment!”?