Dwell in Your Senses
Have you ever noshed on a problem, chomping on it like a dog with a bone, no solution in sight, until you went for a hike or to the movies, then the solution appeared clearly like the answer in a Magic 8 ball?
You got out of your head and into your senses.
On the hike you were feeling the ground beneath your feet, the breeze through your hair, the warm sunlight on your face. You were hearing the birds chirp, seeing green leaves blow and the earth spread around you.
At the movies, you were watching and listening to a movie that got you laughing, moved you to tears, and/or captivated you with fear, while perhaps munching on hot buttered popcorn, JuJu Beans or Raisinets.
For that time you were engaged in a sensory world where you could feel, hear, see, touch, smell and taste your immediate and present world around you. Your “problem” took a back seat. You were relaxed and weren’t forcing a solution. You were allowing the present moment to reveal itself to you, with positive expectation.
This has happened to me numerous times. While I’ve always felt appreciative of sensory experiences, when I was younger, I never fully got all the gifts available when we purposefully dwell there.
My first understanding of the gift in the senses beyond the obvious came when I was living in Huntington Beach, CA in the late 1980s. It was the summer of 1989, and I’d been dabbling in Scientology. (By the way I’m not, nor was I ever, a Scientologist). One of their books recommended going for a walk outside and being intentional about noticing everything - whether it was a tree you were passing, the smell of the air, the temperature, colors, sounds, etc. I believe the purpose was to shift your energy out of whatever you might be worried or concerned about, by using the senses to help you be present. It worked.
25 years later, I was brought back to this realization again, in 2014 when I was preparing to walk the El Camino de Santiago. To prepare for the walk, I walked five days each week anywhere from one to nine miles. Occasionally I was worried or upset about something when I started my walk, and by the time I was done, something shifted. It was as if the physical rhythm of walking left…right…left…right…somehow stimulated both parts of my brain and may have ground and dissolved whatever had irked me before. I know that on more than one occasion, by the time I got home, I felt more peaceful and even free of whatever had been worrying me before.
Whether you’re dwelling in sight, touch, taste, sound or smell, all the senses can help to bring us home to ourselves.
~ Taking a walk on the beach, barefoot on a sultry summer evening. The sand is cool and soft beneath your feet. You smell the salty air and feel it caress your cheek with it’s breeze. You see and hear the waves gently breaking on the shore and receding, while you notice the golden ball of sunlight dip lower into the sky with bands of orange and pink. You hear seagulls overhead and maybe the sound of distant laughter from other beach goers. Your body feels warm and comfortable.
~ You’re at your favorite Italian restaurant with a good friend. You smile as you notice Andrea Bocelli is piped into the room and you smile in appreciation. A handsome Italian looking waiter arrives to take your order and again, you find yourself smiling at yet another form of beauty that God put on earth for you to enjoy. You order a glass of full bodied red wine, and the waiter comes back the wine along with freshly made warm bread with a little dish of olive oil and herbs and garlic to dip it in. You close your eyes as you savor the complex velvety flavors in the wine and the delicious warm bread practically melting in your mouth.
~ You’re sitting on your couch at home. It’s been a long, busy day and you need to have some “dumb time” and let all the “work stuff” go. You are pleased to find some popcorn and make a homemade batch on the stove, drizzling it with melted butter, salt, and a little parmesan cheese. You grab a mandarin flavored seltzer, some dark chocolate and sit on the couch. Your cat snuggles in at your side, purring away as you turn on PBS to find Rick Steve's touring Machu Picchu in Peru, a place you’ve always wanted to go. You’re riveted and can see yourself there. After that shows’ over, play “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. You’re laughing hysterically and feel alive watching how much fun Ferris and his friends are having. Your favorite scene is when Ferris jumps on the parade float in Chicago and sings "Danke Schoen". Three hours later, totally relaxed and at peace you flop into bed. You can’t even remember what your day was like before the popcorn…
Sensory experiences are a crucial part of Divine Juicy Life because they hold so many gifts. They…
1. Help us to be present, focused on the NOW. Being present in the now allows our mind to rest and have space.
2. Put life in perspective, reminding us that life holds so much beauty.
3. Help us to appreciate life more, which raises our vibration.
4. Calm the mind. E.g. Pandora’s yoga station and Brazilian music.
5. Remind us of and bring us back to a happy memory from our past. Science has shown that odors are more effective reminders of past experience, than any of the other other senses, perhaps because smells get routed through our olfactory bulb, which is closely connected to our brain regions that handle memory and emotion.
6. Give us a fresh, broader perspective. When we can’t see the forest for the trees , swelling in our senses helps us get out of the woods and into the clear.
How can you dwell in your senses everyday?
1. Grab a notebook and make a column for each of the five senses, then write whatever comes to mind about how you love experiencing each one.
2. Choose one sense to dwell in each day and make a list of 3 to 5 ways to dwell in that sense. For example, if I choose smell, I would write “Burn Champa incense while I meditate”, “Inhale the aroma of fresh ground coffee”, “Breathe in the smell of a crushed leaf I pick from a tree outside”.
3. Try a new sensory experience each day. For example you could try a new food or flavor. Buy a new perfume or burn a different smelling incense.
4. Be abundant and generous in your dwelling in the senses. Tehre’s no reason you should deprivedyourself of sensory delights and be undernourished.
5. Focus on exploring one sense at a time. When I coach clients by phone, I often close my eyes as I listen to them which blocks visual distractions and allows me to drop more deeply into listening.
6. Combine the senses for a deluxe rocky road sensory experience. When you have dinner, light scented candles, put on relaxing dinner music and use soft cloth napkins. If you do yoga, burn incense and play yoga music while you do your poses.
How to enjoy your senses when you don’t have time
1. Play music you love while working whenever possible
2. Dab essential oil on to help ground you. E.g. Lavendar oil for relaxing, frankincense to improve mood and focus, or peppermint to stimulate the mind
3. Make a point to look at the sky to and from your car
4. Eat your meal or snack outside. You’ll notice the flavors more.
5. Find someone to hug if you’re a hugger
6. When you eat, eat natural, fresh, delicious fruits from all colors of the rainbow as much as possible
7. Doodle a pleasing design while on the phone or in a meeting
8. Take a minute and stretch your body on the floor
9. Light scented candles or use stick scent diffusers
10. Wear a color or colors that enliven you
11. Gaze at good vibe photos of loved ones on your desk
Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. – Helen Keller