Our senses allow us to experience the wonder and beauty all around us, yet many people find themselves locked into limited and habitual ways of experiencing the world. One reason for this is that modern life bombards our senses with information, which can lead to sensory overload. Secondly, the busyness of many people’s lives means that they do not take time to stop and pay attention to this moment. Living in this way, life can pass us by as we miss the opportunity to be fully present in this moment.
The alternative is to try out new ways of approaching life and bringing our attention more fully to what is going on in and around us. This takes time and practice, but can be the beginning of a whole new way of being. Imagine yourself as a flower, whose petals are beginning to unfold. As they gently unfold, they open to the brightness and warmth of the sun, the gentle touch of the wind and the refreshing moisture of dew and rain. Your blooming form reveals the fragrance, colour and beauty of your true nature.
The following, is a simple sensory meditation that you can try, as a way of cultivating your sensory awareness:-
Find yourself a quiet place and sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Take a few slow, deep breaths and allow yourself to start to relax. Begin to become aware of your sensory impressions, by focusing on one sense at a time. Start with your hearing and really listen to the sounds all around you, their particular quality, noticing each one. Then bring your focus to your sense of touch, to your skin’s tactile response to everything that touches you. Feel the air upon your skin, its warmth or coolness, the sensation of your clothes touching your skin, really notice how this feels. Then become aware of your sense of smell, allowing yourself to take in the smells in your environment and to differentiate between them. Which smells are you attracted to and which repel you? Then focus on your taste. What can you taste? Perhaps the lingering taste of the food you ate, or the tea or coffee you drank, or can you taste something in the air as you breathe it in? Finally, open your eyes and allow yourself to look around. What colours, tones, light and shadows do you see? What draws your attention? Now start to bring your attention back to your body and gently move your toes and fingers shake out your hands and give yourself a stretch. How are you feeling after this sensory exploration? Do your senses feel sharper and more awake? Practicing this meditation, can help us begin to use all of our senses, not just our habitual ones.
Spending time in nature on a regular basis, I have found is a great remedy for jaded senses. The colours found in nature are the restful greens and browns of trees and plants, the blue tones of sky and sea and the yellows and oranges of sand and desert. The smells are often delicate and enticing, the salty fragrance of the sea, the sweet perfume of a rose, or the bitter, earthy smell of a forest floor. The natural tones, sounds, sights and smells are a delight to overtaxed senses. Quality time in nature brings a sense of deep rest and rejuvenation, from which we can begin to open up to the sights, sounds and textures of the landscape.
Bringing our attention fully to our experience in this moment takes practice. Focusing on the breath can be a great tool to assist with developing awareness. Becoming aware of our breath, as it moves in and out of our body and the sensations as it is inhaled and exhaled, is a great way of bringing our attention back to the present moment. In this way, we can begin to experience life freshly, really noticing the unique qualities, sights, sounds and experience of each moment.
I find that incorporating a period of quiet time into the day, be that meditation, relaxation or a bath, is essential. It gives the mind and body a chance to rest and restore. It also gives our senses a break from the constant impressions and overload that are inherent to modern life. We return restored, refreshed and ready to approach the world anew.
Awakening the senses enriches our experience of life. We start to perceive the radiant colours of a sunset and the subtle perfume of a flower. Our moments become opportunities to embrace life and all that it is.
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