Self-Awareness and Chemical Exposure: Are Your Senses Dull?


BrailleSelf Reflection is the Catalyst of Change It’s also an important element to improving your senses. Whether you are trying to live greener, lose weight, build a successful  business, or develop a career you’ll never fully achieve your goals if it is based on someone else’s definition of success.  

When you become an Expert of your Self, you can align goals that fit your truest sense of being. How does this fit with Natural Living? Simple, once you have a better understanding of yourself, Natural Living comes easier. Our bodies were designed to send signals if we detect things that are harmful to us, whether by way of a headache, nausea, sneezing, etc.   This self-awareness of the senses is not to be confused with an unhealthy, selfish perspective of Self fed by ego and vanity. A healthy understanding of your Self involves a self awareness that moves you to become healthier in mind, body and spirit so you can be a positive influence in all relationships in your life. 

 

Natural Living begins with understanding your SELF better so you start to realize what you are sensitive to and discover what gives you life, to really start to experience LIFE on a whole new, intimate level. It is the path to understanding who you were created to be so you can live in abundance. Not necessarily abundance financially, but on a more holistic level. Abundance in your soul, peace that passes understanding knowing you are being true to your self (and your creator), not living a life set by someone else’s agenda. Understanding your self better will give you discipline in all areas of your life – your relationships – profession – and decision making skills because you are lead with clear intentions. Travis Bradberry has quantified many of these concepts for business leaders as your EQ, or Emotional Intelligence. While the mind-body community has practiced these principles for centuries on a personal level, some find it helpful to apply it in a more logical, precise way as the EQ system.

Becoming more aware of your senses is an easy way to begin studying your Self. 

We have lost sight of our Selves  In a world that makes it easy to “follow” others (a benefit of technology) have we made ourselves vulnerable to losing our identity?  You need to be intentional in holding on to who you are in a world of virtual reality, where not all things are as they appear. You can be true to yourself, but it takes time, perseverance and courage.

Our senses must be nurtured and developed over time, neglect them and they lose their effectiveness.  

Exercising your senses will:

  • Improve your self-awareness
  • Help you see what your priorities are
  • Determine where you are expending your energy

 

Awaken your senses and you’ll gain a new perspective of yourself and the world around you. You’ll be able to tap into your creativity, imagination and reality from a clear, unbiased view.  All our senses are interconnected and powerful!  Right now, just the thought of some images may evoke a strong emotional response in your senses: a spray of salty ocean water, a warm apple pie, sand between your toes, a beautiful sunset. 

The five senses are best understood from real life experiences.  I have been teaching yoga for over 12 years and seen the powerful impact the senses have in understanding who we are. It’s made my life richer, more complex and rewarding no matter what season of life I’m in.  

You are your own Expert! You already have the tools to master the subject.

When you label your Self with doubt you are dulling your senses.

When your senses are dulled, you lose site of

  • Your self-awareness  
  • Your priorities
  • Who you really are

Most of us were born with 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing, and many might even add a sixth sense – common sense/intuition.

This 6th sense is similar to Shakespearean Times definition of 5 inward senses (or wits). Though many philosophers had varying ways of describing the wits in literature and poetry, they could be loosely classified as:

  • Common wit (coined by Aristotle as sensus communis or common sense)
  • Imagination
  • Fantasy
  • Estimation (a form of instinct)
  • Memory

These “internal wits” were often referred to in English literature like Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing. These senses or wit’s have a more psychological perspective that was considered the foundation of intelligence.  So what did the Greek philosophers know about intelligence and the senses that we, in our information society, have possibly lost sight of?

Common Sense is not so Common anymore”   Voltaire

Our Senses are Dull  We live in a chemical world and many of our senses are dulled: physically with chemicals in our personal & home care and processed foods. Emotionally we have dulled our senses. Western culture is oversaturated with drawing our senses in especially with violence and sex. 

There are many things in our culture that dull our senses: alcohol, drugs, caffeine, stimulants, even sex. Anything that has the potential to be addicting has the potential to dampen our senses. Too much of anything is not good and moderation is the best practice in life. You can work through these exercises, but they will be less than ideal if you have addictive behaviors that are skewing your perception.  If you are suffering from any addiction, get support from a professional.

Most people can relate to the cliché  “have  you lost your wits?”. You can have everything going right in your life, but if you do not have your “wits” about you, it is all meaningless.

What is the meaning of success if you have lost your “wits?      You don’t have to lose your wits, all you have to do is tune in to your senses. You’ll find that no matter where you are at in life, these simple exercises will help awaken your body to the world around you.  They can be practiced anytime or repeated as you like. In fact, the more often you include activities like these in a part of your everyday life, the more heightened your senses will become. You may also find that as your 5 senses sharpen, your common sense (and wits) will improve as well.  A cool side effect of removing  things that are dulling your physical body like chemicals in your environment , is often clearer thinking! You’ll have a better sense of your priorities and your Self.   These five senses do work together, and if you deprive or oppress one, it will most likely affect the others.

Sight – Take time to really see the world. Stop what you are doing and just look, observe and be. Your world will become richer just by noticing the small details in life, in people and your surroundings. When you see the world as it is you become a part of it, not just a spectator. Visit an art studio or museum, anything that catches your eye, even if it’s a Harley Museum. Seeing the complexity of everything, anything, gives you an appreciation and wonder of all things created. Begin with things that you enjoy and be creative.  You’ve probably already done this subconsciously with your interests and hobbies. Step out of your comfort zone and don’t be quick to turn away from something because your initial instinct was negative. This perception may be from something insignificant from your past that has influenced who you are today. When you see things through your own eyes you can interpret it in your own time with your own perspective, not someone else’s. Your sense of sight will take you further into understanding yourself and the world around you when you take the time to look.

Taste – We live in a processed, packaged, take out world where food is not what it used to be. Food additives like MSG (monosodium glutamate) and high sodium content dull our taste buds.  Once rare, artificial flavorings (which are cheaper to produce than natural flavorings) have become normal ingredients in packaged foods. You can improve your sense of taste simply by taking a break from take out and packaged foods for a week or more.  Make time to prepare some whole foods and savor the rich colors, textures and taste that man-made foods cannot replicate. Taste and smell are closely related so as you improve your sense of smell, real foods will become more pleasing to your palate.  Sample variations of foods in a similar category, think of the Three C’s:  Cheese, Chocolate and Coffee, these are fun foods to experiment with to waken up your senses. Cheeses, for example, come in a range of tastes from a mild Gouda to a strong Bleu Cheese and many varieties in between. Whatever you are sampling, begin with the mildest flavors first and  finish with the strongest.  Give yourself time in between samples to appreciate the flavors, textures and full sensations of  taste.

Touch – Touch is probably one of the easiest senses to take for granted and most underutilized senses by some.  I have a degree in Textiles and Fiber Arts and I’m very tactile, I love exploring the texture of things, and there are many creative ways you can develop your sense of touch. Notice the firmness of a wine glass or the varied texture of your sofa, the warmth of a coffee cup or the soft fur of a puppy. We use our hands every day and often don’t realize the impact of touch unless it is taken away from injury to the nerve endings. You’ve probably experienced this to some degree when wearing gloves or having a band aid stuck on the end of a finger.  Our sense of touch is not limited to the hands, but our whole body. Reflexology is a fantastic way to wake up your senses, giving and receiving a foot massage is easy and can be very sensory when done with thought and intention.  The feet are filled with thousands of nerve endings related to points over your entire body – touch on the soles of the feet is powerful.  Explore your sense of touch beyond your hands, notice how your clothing feels against your skin and sensations of hot and cold. You probably have a favorite shirt or piece of clothing, maybe it’s the softness of the fabric or the way it conforms comfortably to your body. Pay attention to your body’s signals of pain. If you bump into something, then ignore your body’s response to the injury, you are hampering your body’s natural senses.  Simply noticing these little details will improve your sensory perception of touch.  

Hearing – Hearing encompasses more than just listening sounds like music.    Hearing goes beyond passive listening. This is one sense I definitely have to put more effort into practicing. Computers, cell phones, and instant messaging all make it easy to communicate in multiple avenues at the same time,  often without others aware of our current distractions.  The disassociation does show through when we do not fully “hear” all the conversations we are participating in whether online or in person. When we split our attention in several directions, we may be listening but we miss out on many subtle cues that help heighten our senses and our awareness. When you take time to enjoy one on one conversations  and really listen to others  you’ll improve your hearing, raise your awareness and tune in to your  intuition.breathe aromatherapy

SmellOur sense of smell is dulled by exposure to synthetic fragrance. In addition to the danger chemical fragrance poses to delicate hormone balance, it also confuses other body systems. The more you smell chemicals, the more dulled your olfactory senses become.   Steroid nasal sprays will also dull your sense of smell (in turn requiring us to use more flavoring/salt/MSG so we can taste our foods). Have intelligent conversations with your doctor if you are using nasal sprays long term to see what your alternatives are. Take a break from the chemicals and just go without scent for a while. When you re-introduce scent, begin with real flowers, then essential oil products, (check www.EWG.org for safe options) so you are not just replacing chemicals with more chemicals.  Any product with the ingredient “fragrance” is just a combination of secret chemicals that will dull your sense of smell over time. Don’t be surprised if foods start to taste different as your sense of smell improves.  Be patient as your body awareness adjusts to new sensations. The sense of smell has powerful links with memories. You might even begin to recall elements of your past associated with certain aromas.   

As you explore your five senses your self-awareness improves. This will spill over into every aspect of your life in clearer perceptions, understanding and memory. Enjoy the heightened awareness – the discovery of things as they really are. Improving your senses is just one step you can take to begin living a more natural life.  

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