It Starts with your Senses
You do not have to go far to explore, you do not have to go far to travel. In fact sometimes, the most impactful exploration starts right where you are. It starts with your senses. Your senses are gateways to experiencing the world inside and outside yourself. Yet, how often do we consciously tap into our five primal senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch? How often do we consciously tap into our intuitive senses like energy, and emotions? When we connect to our primal and intuitive senses, we realize that they are all interconnected. For example, have you ever walked into a room that smelled like flowers, and all of a sudden you remember the warmth of your grandma’s living room? Have you ever gazed at the changing leaves of a tree and suddenly felt a profound sense of connectedness to the world around you? When we tap into our primal senses, we often have an easier time tapping into our deeper, intuitive senses. This type of sensory exploration allows us to be more present in our day to day lives, and allows us to more easily let go when we travel far from home.
See, exploration isn’t only in discovering the new. Exploration is also remembering. Remembering not only things we have individually experienced, but also remembering the collective experience of humanity, or of nature.
It’s tapping into a place, a taste, a smell and remembering its significance on a deep level. For example, when I see a father playing with his children jovially in the park, and I engage my sense of sight to see the smile on their faces, and my sense of hearing to listen to the laughter emitting from the children’s little bodies, I smile and feel joy too because I remember. I remember that child-like play, the connection I have between my parents, the feeling of being carefree, and giggling. I remember my individual experience, and I also remember the broader experience of others. I am reminded of the way that joy and child play lives within all of us no matter what age, or place. I am reminded that it is something that has always existed and will always exist for the rest of time. I do not have to go far to explore this feeling. I can simply walk down the street, and look for it, or sit still in a park and observe. So can you.
Similarly I can go into nature, and look at one simple, yet magnificent tree. I can touch the roughness and sturdiness of its trunk with my palm, smell the perfume of its flower, its leaves, its bark and be struck with complete wonder. I am exploring this tree with my senses, and through this I can feel its life. I explore questions like how long has this tree lived? What has this tree seen in its lifetime? How big are its roots? These are all questions that evoke my inner explorer because they evoke curiosity, and wonder. I am experiencing this tree for the first time, and it is therefore new to my individual experience. However, I am also tapping into the history of nature and remembering its ancient significance. I do not have to go far to explore and neither do you.
Exploration is wonderful, but if we limit it to the idea of traveling far away we miss out on discovering what is right in front of us.
I encourage you to choose a day this week to channel your inner explorer and explore right where you are! Here are some ideas to get you started:
1) Start with food.
Before eating a meal, take a few minutes to really look at the food in front of you. What colors do you see? What is the texture like? What shapes do you see? What does it smell like? Do you feel warmth or cold coming from the dish? Does it evoke any emotion, and if so take note. When you bite into your food, close your eyes and chew slowly. What do you taste? Do you notice subtle hints of flavor? Is it hard, soft, crunchy, chewy? After your meal, tap in and notice what you are feeling. Do you feel joyful, sad, nostalgic? Did it invoke any past memories? Tap into your senses.
2) Crawl Around.
I remember before big tests in elementary school the teacher would have us crawl around on the floor because she said crawling helped to activate the brain. Choose a morning to crawl around your house first thing in the morning. What does it feel like to crawl instead of walk? What do you see when you crawl that you don’t see when you sit, stand, or walk? A friend of mine suggested this exercise, after she crawled around her house to baby-proof the area to make it safer. Instead of just making the house safer, she discovered that she was fascinated with how different it felt to crawl than to walk.
3) Go on a walk outside.
Do not wear headphones, and if you bring your phone put it on airplane mode and resist taking any photos. Walk slowly. To start engaging your senses, try to name four things you see, four things you hear, and four things you feel. Keep repeating the exercise until you feel more present to engage your senses naturally. Walking is a great way to do this exercise, but you can also do this anywhere, anytime- in a park, in the classroom, at work, on the bus etc.
Exploration does not have to be expensive. It can be accessible to anybody, and can enhance your experience of the world, no matter your circumstances, place, or ability. The world is a remarkable place, and you have access to it EVERY DAY! So tap in, explore, discover, and enjoy freely!