15. The Sensorium

Good morning and welcome to your fifteenth meditation. Few would contest the assertion that, of the five senses that we humans use to engage with the physical world, society tends to value sight over all others. We’re all familiar with the cliché that “seeing is believing”. And indeed, we tend to regard sight as the most authoritative sense when it comes to determining what we understand to be reality. We think that if we can see it, it’s real; and if we can’t, we tend not to be so certain. This method of determining what is and isn’t real works pretty well a lot of the time. Sight is definitely handy when driving a car, or walking down a set of stairs, or detecting the presence of cancer cells in a biopsy for example. But our high valuation of sight means that we often “overlook” (pun intended) the importance of our other senses. We can forget that these other senses are also constantly contributing to the construction of our reality, if on a less conscious level. They are  affecting our mood, and shaping who we are. And if you doubt this then have a look at the natural experiments of children raised without human touch, or at people who develop eating disorders due to the loss of their sense of smell or taste. And Wikipedia enumerates a litany of afflictions associated with exposure to noise pollution including anxiety, depression, stress, heightened blood pressure, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and a heightened risk of weight gain, diabetes, and stroke, to name just a few. And this is not the sound of bombs exploding that we’re talking about. The article states that the World Health Organization has deemed the sound of traffic to be the second worst environmental stressor for humans after air pollution. So remember to check in with your other senses on a regular basis. Try to be more cognizant of what is going in your nose and mouth and ears. Try to get in touch with the sensitivity of your skin. Be scrupulous about the music you listen to. Consider how a certain piece of music will affect your mood in a certain way. Ask yourself what mood are you in the mood to be in. Make time for silence. Listen to that silence. Closing our eyes and opening our ears can allow us to connect with our environments in a way that can make us feel more grounded and present than when we observe that same environment with our somewhat overused and tired sense of sight. Think about your food as you eat it. Observe the combinations of flavours. Touch soft things. Touch each other. Touch yourself. Smell the flowers. Not only will indulging these four other senses guarantee many moments of simple pleasure in your life, which is good enough in itself; it will also contribute to your overall mental and physical health. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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