Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy.
The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don't know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.
-C. Joy Bell
In order to wake up your senses, it’s important to understand them a bit better. You probably learned about the five senses in health class: touch, smell, hearing, seeing, and taste. One appealing and straight-forward quality of the five-sense model is that each of the senses is paired with a specific, highly visible part of the body. You can point to your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and skin. However, depending on how you define the human sense organs, functions, and abilities; there may be many more senses beyond just five. And you can access them!
Isn’t that exciting?!
You must learn to heed your senses. Humans use but a tiny percentage of theirs. They barely look, they rarely listen, they never smell, and they think that they can only experience feelings through their skin. But they talk, oh, do they talk.”
-The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Before diving into the senses that I like to teach folks about, it’s helpful to note that these extra senses still fit within the common technical definition of how humans “sense.” These aren’t unicorn senses. Like the original five senses, these extra senses are also responses to physical phenomenon that correspond to regions within the brain where signals arrive and are then interpreted.
Additionally, it might make little sense to draw such strict divisions between the senses as you often experience the world in multiple senses simultaneously and they blend together. For example, while enjoying a meal, the aromas in the room, the color of the food, and the sounds around you all influence your experience of the meal.
Below are the five senses and fourteen additional ones that I like to work with. As you read through, consider how the extra senses may appear and interact with one another in your own daily life, how you can connect with them more effectively, and how you can use that awareness to nourish you.
Interesting side-bar: there are some individuals who experience sensory sensations that are always linked together. For example, whenever they hear music, they experience colors that correspond to that music. This condition, called Synesthesia, involves a sensory-perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or brain pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory brain circuit. Synesthesia is uncommon, occurring in only about 1 in 2,000 people. The condition is more prevalent in artists, writers and musicians. About 20 to 25 percent of people of these professions are estimated to have synesthesia.