Your Senses, a Gateway to the Present Moment

March 12th, 2012

Blog Format

I am currently attending a 7-week online course with Jean Houston:"Awakening to your Life's Purpose", if you are not familiar with Dr. Jean Houston, she is a scholar, philosopher and researcher in human capacities, one of the foremost visionary thinkers of our time.

Anyway, as challenging as it is to follow the course curriculum while juggling my kids, my home, work and my writing... it is totally worth it. I was recently working on a piece about awakening our senses, and it inspired me for this week's topic.

If you think about it, how often do we consciously engage into the richness of our senses? We all use our senses everyday, but mostly in an unconscious way, taking them for granted and not exploring their full richness.


Every one of our senses is absolutely amazing and our sensory memory (that is the memory that stores smells, images, textures, etc.) is almost limitless. As we grow into adulthood, we stop paying attention to every little sensory impression, and as we develop the capacity for abstraction, we start labeling our perceptions and forming concepts, and little by little we loose track of the original perceptions which hold the essence of reality.

The good news is that we can regain the capacity to delight in our senses and it turns out that by consciously tuning into our senses we can greatly benefit. For one thing, it allows us to focus on the NOW, it offers a Gateway to the Present Moment. It can also help us enhance our intuition. Imagine if you could "smell" danger, or "feel" the vibrations of an upcoming earthquake, these are things that animals do, because they are more attuned to their senses.

However, human beings have the capacity to develop their senses and bring them to a higher level, think for instance of people who have lost one ore more senses, they often develop other senses to a much higher level. Blind people, for instance, may develop a high sense of hearing or touch, to help them navigate the world better. So the capacity is in every one of us if we want to explore it!

The other day, I was walking down the street and suddenly I started smelling things around me! OK, on a normal day I would notice a person's perfume if he/she passed me by of course, but this was different, I felt like I was smelling food, flowers, fumes, a lot of things, more than I normally do, as if my sense of smell had heightened.

I felt the same with my hearing, I was hearing the birds chirping on top of my head, the voice of a man talking on the phone, the sound of a lady's heels on the ground, etc. I was so surprised by these sensations that I started paying more attention to everything around me, and for a while I was there, totally in the moment, without any thoughts of the past or present, it was a really cool experience.

I believe this happened to me because of the exercises I had done following my course with Jean. There is a chapter that she devotes to the senses and our capacity to bring them to a higher level, and she gives some really cool exercises that help our brain work on this capacity. Here below are a few things you can try:

  • Just for fun and right were you are, pick one sense, let's say: hearing, and take a moment (one minute or so) to stop and hear every sound around you, from your coworker's voice on the phone to the plane in the sky far away, how many can you detect...? You may be amazed at how many sounds you can pick up, don't label them, don't think about them, just listen.

  • Another cool thing that you can do is ask a friend to randomly pick names of objects and with your eyes closed, as soon as you hear the name, try "sensing" the object. A sample list can be: strawberry, rose, vanilla, salt, old truck, humming bird, etc. Ask your friend to make a really short pause between the words, so that you don't have time to "think" about them, but just "sense" them in your mind.

  • You can also practice creative visualization and sensing by choosing one mental image that evokes every one of the five senses, for instance, you can close your eyes and picture yourself sitting at the beach, feeling the warm sand under your feet, drinking a delicious pineapple juice, listening to the waves, smelling the flower that your drink is decorated with and looking at children building a sand castle.

  • Another thing you can do is to really truly take the time to savour what you eat, try eating foods separately and tasting each one individually to pick up each unique flavor, take the time to eat, pause, really taste your food mindfully.

Have fun exercising your senses and focusing on the present moment!

If you would like to know more about Jean, you can visit her website, and if you are interested in exploring a little further on this topic, as well as other Jean's teachings, I recommend her book: The Possible Human, which talks about enhancing your physical, mental and creative abilities, it is a gem!

Have a great week!


* Healing With The Masters starts on March 13th. Don't miss these 32 life changing speakers, plus 8 inspirational videos, all designed to enliven you and enhance your life. Free event

* Feminine Power: the essential course for the awakening woman. 7-week online course starts on March 26th. With Katherine Woodward and Claire Zammit.

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