Coming to Your Senses

Raspberries_(Rubus_Idaeus)The instant trivial as it is
is all we have, unless. . .unless
things the imagination feeds upon
the scent of a rose, startle us anew.

-William Carlos Williams

When I started to work on this article I had originally intended that the title “Coming to Your Senses” would refer to how important actively using all our senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste) is in engaging our creativity and imagination and accessing inspiration for our lives.

Then I flashed on the fact that the phrase is also an idiom that refers to someone who has been doing something that is clearly a mistake and finally realizes it and begins to act more in alignment with what is right for them. This has me wondering about the origins of the expression and the true value of really occupying our senses.

Jean Houston, one of the founders of the human consciousness movement suggests, “that enhanced human capacities begin with what we generally think of as our most concrete reality, our own body.” And opening more fully to experience all our senses can help us inhabit our bodies and the knowing, wisdom and “gut instinct” that it holds for us.

People who are highly creative tend to have a vivid sense memory. Memories of things we delight in can actually help us develop our senses. Remember biting into a ripe, juicy peach with the juices running sticky down your chin. You can do this for all your senses. This exercises your imagination as well.

For many the use of their senses has largely atrophied. Western culture especially values concepts and ideas over direct sensory experience. I was lucky enough to grow up within sight, sound and scent of the sea and throughout my childhood we often went camping so I developed a closeness to the natural world where opening your senses to fully experience the world is a delight.

So spending time in Nature, enjoying a good meal or taking a hot scented bath can really help you more fully embody your senses which in turn gives you access to your creative gifts and more of your full potential.

Here’s a poem that came out of engaging my senses in an experience in the world.

Spiritual Practice

A flock of bluebirds flutter
across a fallow field,

their cheerful chirps
ring the air like a temple bell,

calling me out
of my thought-churned mind,

their azure-blue backs
burnt-orange bellies,

holding me,
in the moment.

– Suzanne Murray

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