Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sensing Into Our Senses

This week I want to get out of my head and truly into the body.
I encourage you to do the same. Everywhere, all around you, spring is beginning to poke its head. Here in California, of course, things are beginning to bloom and there are smells in the air at night of jasmine and orange blossom. Today I went for a hike in the mountains and the hills radiated all shades of green: tall dark trees, bushy shrubs and moss.

Our senses long to be brought more fully into our lives, and slowing down enough to listen to the body helps us experience the world around us in a different way. Take some moments this week to step into that kind of slowed down sensuality. Try doing something you usually do but with greater attention to all of the details and to your own body. If you put lotion on every morning after you shower, try slowing it down just enough to really experience the touch and the feeling of it on your body.

Take five minutes to look out the window at the sky, or better yet, sit outside and let the air move against your skin as you take in everything around you. (I once went on a retreat and was amazed at my ability to stare at a tree for over a half hour, fascinated by the way its leaves moved in the wind.)

Similarly, when you eat, slow down enough to really taste the food, feeling it in your mouth and noticing when you start to get full. What does fullness feel like? Hunger? What's it like to be really satisfied by something you're eating? How often do you not even notice?

Our senses are our body's language of the world: they are how the body experiences everything around us. As we engage with them more fully, we're more connected not only to our bodies but to our lives. Too often we sacrifice this kind of connection for multi-tasking and doing, forgetting to really experience what it's like to 'be' fully in our own skin.

Try picking one moment in your day each day this week to become attuned to the senses, even if just for a moment. Check in with how your body feels, its muscles and movements. Listen to music. Get a massage.

It doesn't matter so much what we do as how we do it. Moving in our lives with attention and the intention to connect with and honor our bodies changes us. It allows us to receive our own lives in a more present way.

You don't have to go out of your way to find those moments, you just have to slow down with some consciousness to experience what's really happening right now. As you do, notice how your body responds to your awakening and listening in this way. You may feel it soften, open, relax. It may feel heard or valued in a different way simply by this shift in your awareness.

Opening to our senses allows our bodies to feel like they matter in our lives. Our senses are part of the body's gift to us, and they have tremendous value if we take them in. Despite our belief, we cannot live our lives completely from our heads. In order for life to catch up with us, we need to let it simmer and stir in our senses, in the quiet moments, and in the step into conscious awareness.

In what ways have you been depriving yourself of your senses and what does that do to the way your relate to your body? What would happen if you let your senses speak more fully in your life, guiding you to greater openness and joy?

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