Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Exploring and Expanding the Senses

I am watching a workshop that is exploring how we experience the world through our senses, with the intent of creating the intention of paying better attention to what our senses are telling us.  I have written about the senses before, especially in regards to meditation (because we aren't all visual people, and so many meditations include visualizations....which just don't work for everybody), but also just in general.

We are taught in school that there are five basic senses:  sight, sound, taste, touch, smell.  So much of the world assumes that you experience the world from a visual primary (and often touch secondary) standpoint.  As a society, we aren't as scent oriented as we might have been in our evolutionary past.  Many forms of advertising and entertainment bombard us with sights and sounds, and in many ways we start to filter out a lot of the information that is coming our way.

In the magical community, we often talk about other senses such as intuition or the energetic body.   There is a whole spectrum of psychic senses that echo the physical ones: clairvoyance (sight), clairaudience (sound), clairgustance (taste), clairalience (smell) and clairsentience (feeling).  There is also claircognizance, which many people consider similar or the same as intuition...a sense of just knowing information out of the blue.

When we think about the senses, we should first think about what a sense is.  I feel that our senses are our way of experiencing and understanding the world, both without and within.  It is also a way in which we receive information.  By this definition our thoughts can be considered our sense of Self.  One of the questions asked in the workshop I'm in is to think about other senses that you might have.

Which definitely got me thinking.  Right away I jotted down Energetic sensing:  feeling the resonance or energy of a thing.  Almost like tapping into the essence of it.  I also wrote down intuition, because that is a big thing for me. 

I wrote down Talking, because I definitely often start talking without knowing fully what I am talking about.  Through the course of speaking (or writing...but it's easier when speaking for me) words, I am not even really thinking about what I am trying to say, but letting the words flow through me.  Sometimes the words don't feel like my own, so I am listening to myself speak in order to figure out what I am trying to say.

I also thought about Synchronicity as a sense.  There are tons of times where all of a sudden I will start seeing the same thing over and over.  Or all my friends will talk about something to me independently.  Perhaps these things were always happening, and I just wasn't paying attention.  Or perhaps I am calling out for the information I need.  But noticing the patterns, getting that 'aha' moment where I recognize that I'm getting all this information about something all at once is definitely a way that I receive (and pay attention to) information.  Once I start noticing a pattern, I can't help but start looking for it and trying to figure out what it might mean to me.

I believe that Dreams are a sense.  We tap into so much information when we dream, and it flows in a way that is different from almost every other way we perceive the world.  Our dreams are an almost entirely different life that we don't always get to remember or understand in our waking lives.  And yet, we can work things out in our dreams while not even being fully aware of what is going on.

Imagination is along the same lines.  In some ways, this one is really tricky.  There is a lot of disbelief in imagination as being a real thing.  And yet I think that the things we imagine can become real.  And sometimes we can use our imagination to tap into very real information.  I have used this process several times, when I didn't know what to do about something.  I made up an answer, and tried it out, only to find out later on that the answer I made up was an actual answer. 

No matter what you consider to be a sense, there is powerful work that you can do with your senses!  Many people are in awe at the sensory abilities of others, especially people who may lack in certain senses and then have other senses that compensate for them.  But most of us can develop our senses to be more than they are, simply by paying more attention to what they are telling us.

We move through our day, paying attention to only what we need to.  The vast majority of information that comes to us gets automatically processed and discarded.  We aren't aware of it at all.  If you go to the grocery store, you technically 'see' all the people you walk by, all the signs and food for sale and the shelves on which everything is stored.  And yet many people couldn't tell you what color shirt the person who checked them out wore, even though they probably looked at them and even talked to them. 

It is pretty easy to start developing a sense.  All you have to do is start making a conscious effort to pay attention to it.  When you look at something, really look at it.  Consider what color it is and not just red or blue, but is it crimson or aqua or some other color that you can't even name?  When you taste a food, don't just stop at sweet or salty, can you taste the spices in your stir fry or use ten different words to describe how your apple tastes.  When you touch something, what does it really feel like....and how does it make you feel in response?

You can do this same process with the non-primary senses as well.  Developing skill with one of the clair-senses often starts through what I'll call sensualization:  you try to tap into the sense you are working on without a phsyical stimuli.  So for clairvoyance, that would be visualization:  you try to see the image of for example an orange, without having one in front of you (though when you first start you can have the orange, and then close your eyes and try to call it's image up).  For clairaudience you may try to hear your favorite song or the voice of a friend. 

For other senses that aren't based off the physical ones, you can find other ways to practice and develop them.  With Energetic sensing you might pick different things try to sense their resonance.  Start paying attention to any kind of feedback you might receive, whether it is words, sensations in your body, images or just concepts.  A lot of times I'll get a sense of knowing about a thing and it will be something that I can't put into words, I just know it (completely hard to explain lol).  To practice Talking, try talking out problems you are having or things that are bothering you.  The key is really to not think about what you are saying.  Sort of like stream of thought writing, except with speaking.

Synchronicity is all about paying attention to patterns.  Just putting the idea in your head to start looking for repeated things can help you start to notice them.  Once you start seeing the patterns, then you can think about what they might mean or what they are calling your attention to.  Writing down what you saw and a brief bit about what was happening at the time can be helpful in tracking the patterns.

Almost all Dream work starts with journaling.  Dreams are fleeting things, and while we may have a clear idea of what we dreamed when we first wake, those dreams quickly get lost.  Having paper and pen near your bed to note down key words right away can help you hold onto those dreams.  It can also be helpful to set the intention before you go to sleep that you will not only dream, but that you will remember your dreams.  Once you are dreaming often and remembering many of them, you can work on lucid dreaming, or being active in your own dreams!

To me, Imagination is the easiest to practice, but for many people it can be a real challenge.  I started, many years ago, by imagining what might happen in a situation I was expecting later on.  For example, if I knew I was going to be riding the bus to school, I might imagine something that could happen on the bus.  Sometimes it is useful to imagine realistic situations.  I almost always imagine important phone calls before I make them, playing out several different and very realistic options.  Job interviews are another great scene to imagine.  When you want to stretch your imagination muscles, start thinking of less probable situations.  What might happen if at the last bus stop, some one famous got on the bus?  Or perhaps you go to the interview and it's being held at a wild dance party!  Get crazy with it and see what you come up with.

One of the great things about working with the senses is that they are always with us.  These are skills we can often work on at any time, even if we only have a minute, and without anyone else knowing what we are doing.  If you are waiting in line at the bank, see how many sounds that you can name.  If you are riding in a car, look out the window and really see the color of the sky or close your eyes and try to feel the sensation of ice.

The more we pay attention to the world around us, the more alive we will be because we are more aware.  Everything becomes more interesting because you are actively engaging with it instead of trying to avoid what is going on.  Make the most of every minute by truly experiencing it!


  1. This is a topic I've thought a lot about. We're taught in grade school that touch is one sense, but temperature, texture, and pressure are three very different qualities that can be considered touch. We have a sense of location called proprioception and a sense of the passage of time, but most grade schoolers or younger aren't taught to consider those as senses. I think it's unfortunate that those limitations in mindset carry over to psychic/liminal experiences, so I find it very nifty that you've articulated a frame of reference all your own!

    1. It seems like there is always just as much to unlearn as there is to learn! The sense of location is a really interesting one to read about and consider....but me and time don't really get along well lol