“There are moments of insight when ancient truths do stand out more vividly,
and one senses anew his relationship to the earth and to all life.
Such moments are worth waiting for, and when they come
in some unheralded instant of knowing,
they are of the purest gold.”
— Sigurd Olson
The ocean was never more than 5 blocks away growing up and in my first years was just over a short wall to the beach with
Mission Beach, San Diego, California
waves beckoning to a young child to come and play. Given this you will understand why today I was so strongly drawn to the ocean that nothing could keep me away.
A 50 minute drive had me in direct proximity with the smell of salt air, the sound of waves rolling, and gulls sounding off in the air. Even though the sun was hidden there were many children, adults, and dogs celebrating the gifts of being near to the sea (and in it!).
When our senses are evoked by nature, feelings of love, a burst of creativity, tantalizing smells, pleasing sounds, luscious tastes, or the tender touch of a hand – our breath responds.
When I left my home my breath was shallow and constricted. After arriving at the beach and walking along the shore with lower legs caressed by salt water my breath became full and expanded.
What is it that connects our senses with the breath? Perhaps it is the “essensual” connection with that which we are created from – our home inside on the deepest cellular level. When our senses are filled – our breath is full.
Spending countless hours sitting in front of computers/electronics, watching television for some, and hooked into sedentary lifestyles and mind games we have forgotten that we even have a full array of senses that can give us unending pleasure, ignite our life dreams, and connect us to the whole of all that is around and within us.
What would it be like if today you took a “senses break”. In other words choose one of your senses – nose/smell; eyes/visual; ears/hearing; skin/touch – kinesthetic; or tongue/taste. I invite you to take a 15 minute “sense break” and completely focus in with that particular sense.
What is your experience? Has your breath changed as you allow your one sense to be the connector moment to moment? Now see if you can focus into the moment with all 5 senses and notice how the breath may change.
All life that came before us depended upon senses to navigate their particular place in the world. Their survival actually depended upon it. How might we bring back a deeper connection with our senses…and thus with our breath? As this connection deepens, and in some cases returns, our direct experience of life in the moment expands.
In return, our full embodied breath can also ignite our senses. Just taking one full breath activates the nasal passages/smell as we bring more air into and out of our body; increases visual depth and acuity as oxygen stimulates our visual receptors; creates a soft sound that tells us “we are alive and breathing”; expands our chest, ribcage, back and belly, massages organs and the lymphatic/circulatory systems, and causes increased sensitivity to touch as the breath moves in and out; and stimulates appetite to “taste” more of life as we increase our aliveness with a full breath.
What is holding you back from using your senses more to feel, hear, taste, touch and see? Don’t miss huge parts of your life! As Jon Kabat-Zin, Ph.D says in the video below: “Pay attention in an open-hearted way to the full range of your capacities and resources.”
Breathe it in!!
Sense Mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh (a favorite person and teacher!) – Stop running and pay attention to the now with all of your senses…..
OTHER BLOGS BY GAYE ABBOTT: