Vim Essentials: Philosophy

PHILOSOPHY > The Five: Smell, See, Taste, Touch, Hear
Our senses are all connected, and they cause visceral reactions within our bodies. They create our life experiences as they give us access to describe circumstances vividly. Even without use of some of our senses, others are heightened.

With all of our physical senses, the key to evolving them is curiosity. A little courage to try new things, and ask a few questions will go a long way.

Science and technology has also contributed to an evolution of our physical senses. Glasses and contact lenses, Lasik eye surgery, treatments for anosmia (loss of sense of smell), hearing aids and Cochlear implants have enhanced the lives of so many people

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Take care of your air!

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.”—Helen Keller

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”—Thich Nhat Hanh

The sense of smell is by far our least understood sense. Smelling and breathing are inextricably linked, and we know from our doctors as well as our yoga instructors the importance of breathing.

What's That Smell? You Are What You Breathe.

So you read the labels on the foods you buy, and are being more careful about what you eat…but what about what you are breathing? When we breathe, we inhale the air surrounding us, and the molecules in the air whether we like it or not, and whether it smells good or not. What we breathe also goes into our bodies, so shouldn’t it be just as important to know what we are breathing as it is what we are eating?

The answer is YES!

It wasn't too long ago that no one knew, or cared about things like trans-fats, or partially-hydrogenated oils. Now however, people like you are becoming increasingly educated about the foods you eat, and are paying attention to additives and chemical additives in foods, like high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, artificial colorants and MSG. You have forced the food industry to respond and begin taking those unnatural ingredients out of their products. Good for you!

Do you have scented candles in your home? Some of them may not be as healthy as you think. What about those room fresheners that you spray or plug into an outlet? How about your car? Do you know what gives your car that “new car smell”? What about the pine tree dangling from your rear view mirror? These all emit scent-carrying molecules that you are inhaling. What gives something a scent might not be that good for you. Synthetic fragrances and scents have contributed to an increase in allergies and asthma.

We are so overwhelmed by synthetic scents and fragrances that we don’t actually know what the real stuff smells like anymore. Essential oils are a great way to re-train your sense of smell about what nature actually smells like. In this case it takes going back to nature to evolve your senses.

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They say “seeing is believing”, but…is it really? A group of people looking at the same scene will typically identify different things. Like the inkblot Rorschach test – everyone sees something different. It is difficult to take things at face value because when we look at things, we automatically interpret them. Take a moment and just see things without judgment.

How do you evolve your sense of sight? Easy, look at new and different things. Change your scenery. You can do this by focusing on something in your immediate vicinity in a way you haven’t before, or you can change your environment. Take a trip, travel, run an errand…just take a moment to notice the different colors, shapes, sizes. Notice nature. Notice all of the physical structures around you. What is there that you haven’t seen before? Focus on the colors and the textures of what you see. Chances are that you will see something new, and will feel a little more peaceful.

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“In America we eat, collectively, with a glum urge for food to fill us. We are ignorant of flavour. We are as a nation taste-blind.” — M. F. K Fisher (Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher)

Do you actually know what the food you eat tastes like? Most people are not conscious when they eat, because they are watching television, surfing the internet or talking on the phone. When you eat, do you take full advantage of your taste buds? Your sense of taste is very sophisticated, and you can tap into it very easily.

First, SLOW DOWN! We don’t usually take the time to focus on a meal, and “mindfully” eat it. Focusing on the sense helps to evolve it.

Not exploring your taste buds is like having a state of the art sound system and not pushing its limits. Take a chance on something new. Try a different cuisine or a different recipe. New fruits and vegetables are always an experience, and so are all the different types of chocolate out there. Have a chocolate tasting!

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“Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight” — Diane Ackerman

Touch is all about the skin – and not just your fingertips. The skin is your body’s largest organ, and taking care of it is very important to your overall well-being.

When we say that something “feels good”, we usually mean that we are comfortable with it – there is an emotional connection. When we touch something and it “feels good”, we like the texture of it. Kids are the masters at evolving their sense of touch. They touch everything, and are not afraid – that is why we have to child proof our houses! As we get older, we stick to what we know, and do not opt to pet the lizard at the petting zoo. Compare the nuances of a fine silk fabric to burlap; the soft and flexible needles of the White Pine to the stiff and prickly needles of the Black Spruce. There is a recent trend of hotel chains and linen shops offering the softest quality high thread-count sheets and luxurious kinds of pillows, all to make us feel good as we go to sleep and awaken in the morning. Make a point every day to notice the details in how something feels to the touch.

When you think about evolving your sense of touch, consider your skin.

Since you have a heightened awareness about what ingredients to avoid putting IN your body, you are also wondering about the ingredients in the products that you put ON your body…which is just as important! Your skin is exposed to the air in the environment, as well as any of the soaps, lotions, and other products that you slather on, and may respond favorably or unfavorably. As a living thing, for the most part your skin takes in what you put on it.

You read the labels on the food you buy…so why not make a habit of reading those on the cosmetic and body products you purchase and determining if you want them in or on your body??

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Think about a maestro conducting a symphony. That individual has trained her ear to discern a myriad of tones, pitches and sounds. This may be an extreme example, but we can all develop a better sense of hearing, and a good place to start is with music. Next time you listen to your favorite song, concentrate on the specific aspects of the melody. You can also try focusing one sense by muting another. For example, close your eyes and just listen.

Evolved hearing means you have more focus, which means you will be a better listener…which makes just about everyone feel more special.

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