You Know You Have Five Senses, Want To Add Fifty More?

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Open your senses to Nature’s supportive Ecopsychology; breathe deep & connect to the trees that are your kin

Ecopsychology, your connection to the cosmos, recognizes that there are more senses than sight, touch, taste, scent and sound. How many do you feel you are aware of in your daily routine?

Although it may seem overwhelming to you if you already feel like you are on sensory overload, there is plenty of evidence that opening up to even more sensory awareness is supportive and healing. Senses, and awareness of them, allows presence and validation. Presence comes by way of mindfulness, and validation comes by way of recognizing that you belong.

Alienation comes from ignoring our senses, or losing ‘sight’ of that belonging.

Let’s look at the list of senses now numbering fifty-four. For most people, once they identify them, there is an “of course” moment of validating that intuitively you knew about them all along. They are listed in four categories. The first of these categories includes your radiation senses.

Our radiation senses center on light and sight, electromagnetic sense and polarity. You may not be aware of the dawn light that wakes you, but your unconscious mind pays close attention. Also included among the first nine radiation senses are your perception of color, season, hibernation drives, magnetic and temperature change.

Feeling senses include sound waves, but also all those feelings you intuitively know from gravity, pressure, resonance, balance, frequency and proximity. Proprioception, our physical awareness of how we feel our own body in relation to spatial cues is among this classification of feeling senses. You can feel vibrations and flow, or possibly even sense that we roll along upon a rotating globe. Perhaps you cannot pinpoint a specific sense of this. How could you, after all, when the whole is moving, and you are moving with it? This sense links us to the moving energy of the whole. It comes in handy when you feel alienated or apart. You never are, of course.

Living online, or in virtual worlds, we are still using all of these senses, but taking off-line time is more rewarding, generally. For lack of a better term, our evolved senses, are more sensual than our digital and more abstract lives. And creating sensory anchors is a major step in awakening all of your senses to your belonging. A hope for a united, biodiverse and sustainable life wherein we recognize our kinship is of greater value than our often cited differences, which drive conflict when we shut our senses down.

There are two more categories of our fifty-four senses yet to examine. All those electrochemical snaps triggered in your 100 billion brain cells are among the many living gifts you are given.

Our chemical senses work with scent, flavor, and all the urges connected to nourishment. They also overlap into the hormonal senses that drive our sexuality, and non-food related appetites. When you are feeling low on salt, or when you are thirsty or hungry, you can awaken to your chemical drives, whether they are driven by hormones or humidity. Your sense of what your body craves connects to every other living being that also has these senses. Nothing tells us we are physical beings more than our need for other physical beings. Many ecopsychologists also include our instinct to hunt, notice potential prey or partnerships. These, too, are chemical attractions born of our most basic relationships to the living world.

Last, but not least comes our mental senses. These thirty senses require a bit more explanation and definition. We think twenty-four hours per day, even when we are asleep. Our mental drives and functions include any awareness of the previously mentioned senses, and our mental maps, both conscious and unconscious of all that matters to us. Among the mental senses that many ecopsychologists include are fear, dread, pain, anguish or longing. But this category also includes our awareness of loving, courtship, community, support networks, belonging, compassion and caring. Having awareness of our interconnectedness also falls (even as it overlaps) into our mental senses. An example would be how we have learned to cultivate plants and animals to allow them — and ourselves — to thrive. Awareness of any of the other senses, listed as radiation, feeling, and chemical senses, necessarily become mental senses as well. Anything that gains our attention and awareness falls into the category of mental senses, as well as those senses we know that we have that we are not alerted too because they are internally, and sometimes externally, expressed. For this reason, the mental senses also include things such as navigating your internal and external world, thoughts and memory, sensing structure, aesthetic art, form and beauty, recognizing and valuing community participation, support and citizenship, and even our need for spiritual as well as reasoning faculties.

Personally, I have often wondered if the mental senses category, acknowledged in ecopsychology, is too broad, repetitive or encompassing, but acceptance of these senses does display our complete attachment and participation in the woven tapestry of being we call life. You may count the number of mental senses as being fewer, or more in number, but the underlying reality of them does in fact connect our reasoning and longing species to every other entity, and therein is their obvious usefulness.

The most hopeful sense we are given centers on how much we learn to value and cherish our inter-dependent status to the living biosphere. The fifty-fourth sense, then, is a recognition of the whole. Therefore, gratitude is very useful to employ because it reminds us that planetary life is indeed precious, rare (so far as the number of M class planets we know about goes) and wondrous in our shared diversity spun from just one tiny coil of DNA. We are spun from a thread of life that weaves not just our physical beings, but our awareness of it which offers tantalizing hope for our world.

For complete lists of your fifty plus senses, visit online.

Please share your thoughts and feelings about how many senses you believe you have. Click, highlight, or comment below. It is very much appreciated, thank you. Christyl Rivers

Written by

Ecopsychologist, Writer, Farmer, Defender of reality, and Cat Castle Custodian.

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