Making sense of the many meanings for the word “sense” must be daunting for anyone trying to learn the English language! There are the five senses…then there’s good judgement as in “he had the good sense to take a cab home”…appreciation as in “a sense of humour”…purpose as in “I can’t see the sense of this”…meaning as in “getting a sense of what was said” and those are just for the nouns! Am I making sense?
For now, though, let’s stick with the Five Senses: taste, sight, hearing, smell and touch.
In the spa world, appealing to each of the five senses is a must, with the sense of smell trending in a big way, according to Nancy Griffin, a spa industry leader. New aromatherapy products are popping up everywhere in response to the healing and calming power oils like lavender, patchouli, sage, thyme, orange and a host of others have on our general wellbeing.
Moving to an even deeper level, in terms of our optimal wellbeing, we use our five senses to heighten awareness and be more fully present. As one of the 12 Dimensions of Wellness, Sensing (the mindful use of our five senses) allows us a richer, fuller appreciation of our everyday lives whenever we call upon them. A gentle breeze on your cheek, the brilliance of a sunset, the taste of a lemon, the scent of a rose…
But what if we’re disconnected from our senses? Then we’re less able to connect and have empathy with others. This is scientifically proven and at the core of what Dr. Dan Siegel terms “interpersonal neurobiology” – the way in which the brain develops and is shaped by interpersonal relationships. It impacts us in our personal lives and at work with fellow employees and clients.
When our brains are well-integrated, with the cortex, limbic region and brain stem linked and in synch, we use our senses to keep us fully engaged, more compassionate and insightful. Is this making sense?
Here’s a simple exercise to get in touch with your senses: simply walk each day, even for a few minutes, and focus attention as totally as possible on one of the above sensory channels at a time for short periods. Direct as much attention as possible—first to your breath for few minutes as you walk, then to what you see, then to what you hear, then what you sense in your body. Finally, bring them all together and see if you can hold awareness of all of them at one time.
This sure makes a lot of sense to me!