how meditation and mindfulness influences our human senses

Mindfulness, Meditation And The Senses

meditation

Our senses of hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, and smelling do more than just enrich our day-to-day experience of life. They go beyond just helping us interact deeply with various daily experiences that we rub shoulders with.

We can use them to help us connect with our minds, bodies, and spirits more and also improve our meditative and mindfulness states as we are doing our self-improvement practices.

Here we are going to see how our senses work, how we use them to make the most of our mindfulness and meditation practices, and how we can work even more with them to deepen our practices and improve our overall wellbeing.

Understanding The Senses Better

Our senses help us interpret our reality and make meaning of the world.

They allow us to get information about our current environment and how it changes so that we can promptly respond to those changes.

Take an example where we get to visit a place we have never been to before. Once we get there, everything is new and we have never seen, smelled, heard, touched, or tasted anything that is in there before.

Immediately we arrive, our senses get in control and take up the function of interpreting everything around us. We begin to look around as we smell the fresh air and any other scents available.

We also proceed to touch some of the objects in that environment as we look out for the sounds that come from the environment and from us touching the objects in the environment. We may also be tempted to taste anything we think is edible and be able to discern what the edible things are, not to mention try to compare the taste with what we have tasted before.

The information we get from our senses helps us create a picture in our minds of every object in the environment by storing the sound, smell, appearance, texture, and taste (if it can be tasted) of each of the objects in the environment.

Moreover, we also store the whole sight of the environment in our minds so that if anything changes, we are able to recognize the change easily. If the change of an object might bring about suffering and pain to us, we activate our reflexes and response systems to help us avoid the negative effects.

Using the same example of the new environment, if we happen to see some of the people we came with get hurt by one of the objects after it changed its state, we will store that information too and we will keep our eyes peeled for that change so that we can respond accordingly to save ourselves from the repercussions.

When one of our senses falls short or is not able to function properly, other senses compensate for that so that we can still get to gain the information we require from all our senses.

For instance, those who struggle with their sight can have their sense of hearing cover up for that by playing both functions. In the same way, we can use the sense of touch to gain information that our senses of sight and hearing offer when they fail (1)(2).

When it comes to our experiences, the most memorable and deeply interactive experiences we have ever had are the ones where all our senses were engaged. We can even notice that when we begin talking about those experiences. We will note that we will discuss how different things in those experiences appeared, the sounds, the smell, the taste, and even the texture of the things we came in contact with.

Meditation and mindfulness are practices that encourage exploring our experiences with all our senses so as to create long-lasting effects in our lives and to also improve ourselves holistically.

How Meditation And Mindfulness Works With The Senses

In meditation, we work with our thoughts, feelings, and senses to do our practices so as to help us come to a place of calmness, relaxation, and wakefulness. We notice our thoughts and become aware when our minds wander so that we can redirect our attention to the practice we are doing.

We also take note of the feelings we have as we progress with our sessions so that we can understand ourselves better. Our senses also help us understand better in terms of the things that affect us differently.

Different experiences bring about different sensations. And if we have stored memories of experiences we had in the past that provoke various feelings and sensations in our bodies, when the thoughts of those memories come to our minds, we experience the same feelings and sensations.

In mindfulness, we heavily rely on our senses to successfully do our practices. Mindfulness is all about remaining aware of the present moment with its experiences.

We aim to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and experiences in the here and now. Much of what is happening in the present moment can be soaked in through our senses. That is why we work with awareness and our senses to remain mindful.

When practicing mindfulness meditation, we also work our breath as our anchor to the present moment. Whenever our minds wander, we bring our attention back to our breath to ground ourselves again.

Mindfulness and meditation cannot be successful without working with our senses. They form a good percentage of both practices and together with our thoughts, feelings, and breath, we are able to be effective in our meditation exercises.

How to Work Effectively With Your Senses to Benefit From Your Practice

Many meditation styles tap into our senses and work with them while others don’t. Styles like mindfulness meditation, vipassana meditation, and focused attention meditation work closely with sensory organs to help us have a deep meditation experience.

For those people who use meditation practices that involve the senses, it is enough to work with the practices without having to add anything to enhance our senses. If we can be fully immersed in the practices during our sessions, be attentive and committed, we can benefit from the practices in terms of the senses.

For those people who work with meditation styles that often don’t connect us with our senses, you can try taking up a short, quick but effective meditation-based practice for the senses that can also help ground you during those days you feel we are completely off track and don’t really have good synchronization of your body with your mind.

This meditation practice only takes 5 minutes and involves all our senses:

Step 1. Get fairly comfortable – Find a comfortable place to sit where your spine will be erect, your feet on the ground and your hands easily and comfortably settled on your thighs.

Step 2. Take a few deep breaths – Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. If possible, breathe in for a couple of seconds until you feel you have reached your full lung capacity and then breathe out slowly. Repeat this process a couple of times.

Step 3. Focus on the sounds around you – Now that you are well-grounded in the present moment, and you are in a more relaxed state, take note of the sounds in your immediate environment. Listen for any sounds around you without forming opinions, making judgments, or conclusions about them. Simply be aware of them as you constantly come back to your breath when your mind wanders. Notice if you can hear more than you previously were when you were making opinions and judgments. Do this exercise for one minute.

Step 4. Take note of the surrounding smells – Now direct your attention to the surrounding smells. It helps if you close your eyes so that you can be able to concentrate on the smell well. Pick up any smell you can sense, be it food, clothes, perfume, the smell of the machines around you, or even fresh air. Be aware of every smell. Do this for one minute too.

Step 5. Observe your environment – Now open your eyes and take note of the surrounding objects. Without being judgmental, observe the shape and color of the objects and how they are placed in your environment. Try taking note of the smallest objects that you often don’t notice when you are out and about. Spare one minute for this as well.

Step 6. Explore your sense of taste – When it comes to your sense of taste, you can go different ways. You can choose to use food, snacks, or even go without any of that, that is, meditate plainly.

If you are going to use food or snacks, take a bite and be aware of the taste of what you have just bitten, notice any flavors or unique taste of some of the ingredients in the food or snack. If you don’t have food, you can simply use your tongue and roll it over the bottom of your teeth from the inside, what do you notice? What unique taste do you get? Then run it over your teeth, lips, and the inner side of your cheeks and take note of the taste and texture too.

Step 7. Now to your sense of touch – Try to feel your hands on the clothes you are wearing especially around your thighs. Feel the texture. Run your hands on all your clothes if you don’t have a dress or one-piece clothing. Then move on to the seat you are on, and feel its texture as well. Try to feel other things close to you and notice the difference in the texture of all the objects you touch.

Step 8. Bring your attention back to your breath – Now redirect your awareness and attention to your breath. Notice how you breathe in and out.

Step 9. Conclude your session – Make the intention to end your session and slowly open your eyes completely and then wake up from your seat as you end the session.

In Ayurveda, the senses are also used in healing. Various techniques such as aromatherapy, therapeutic touch, and sound therapy are employed to work with the inner human ability to self-heal.

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