Celebrating the Senses
Sometimes I feel it’s good to remind myself of the simple things in life that bring so much pleasure. Having the ability to sense all of these things makes me feel very grateful. I am fortunate to have full use of all my senses, but there was a time, not so long ago, when some of them became impaired during a period of ill-health. When I regained the full use of those senses, I promised myself that I would be more grateful for them and make a conscious effort to acknowledge role they play. By being more aware of the gratitude I feel, I also gain a heightened sense of well-being and calm. I guess these are moments of mindfulness. I think that this is especially important during the dark days of winter and in the extraordinary situation in which the population of the planet is living at the moment.
All too often we see, hear, taste, touch, smell or feel something that brings an inner smile or even a great big cheesy grin to our faces. It can pass by so quickly that the feeling becomes lost among all the other stimuli that whizz by us each day. Here I look at some of the things that make me pause a little longer to appreciate them more fully.
I originally wrote this blog post in April 2016 and looking through my list of things that please my senses, nothing has changed in late 2020, I still appreciate all these moments and they all still have the affect of lifting my spirits. At the end of this blog, I invite you to join in this celebration.
Sense of Vision
Vision is probably the most used sense, it’s how I access the most information around me, but sometimes I feel so overloaded with all the images and data in front of my eyes that I actively seek something calmer to look at. Other times I notice something almost by accident and often it’s those things that bring the most pleasure.
Things that please my sense of vision include
Mr J’s sleepy smile in the morning
The colours of the sky goes as the sun is coming up or going down
Frost on a spider’s cobweb
A first leaf peeking through the soil as a seed germinates
Dew drops on leaves
A smile from a stranger
The grandchildren engrossed in a task
Sound is another of those things that can cause my senses to feel overloaded. I used to have the radio on most of the day to keep me company as I worked. More recently I have taken to working in silence as I find it allows me to listen to my thoughts more easily.
Things that please my sense of hearing include the sounds of
My children’s laughter
The mew of new-born kittens
Wooden knitting needles clicking together
The dawn chorus
Music that moves me
The crackle of a fire in the wood burner
Running water in a stream
The funny noise the ducks make when I feed them peas
The quiet of the end of the day
Sense of Taste
Taste is the sense that I probably undervalue the most. Much of my working day is occupied with growing food, preparing food and drink and then consuming it, so I was surprised that I seem to pay so little attention to this sense. It was only when I thought more deeply about how much I use taste to determine what I’m doing that I realised how much I use this sense. From selecting which variety of fruit or vegetable to grow to adding the finishing touches to a meal, the taste of the food guides me.
Things that please my sense of taste include
Tomatoes picked straight from the plant
Salt on my lips after a walk on the beach
Raspberries warmed by the sun
A cup of tea after working outside for a while or at the end of a long journey
Freshly baked bread
Freshly squeezed orange juice
I find touch is a confirming sense, I often use it to confirm what my other senses have told me. How often do we see a ‘Wet Paint’ sign and feel the need to touch the surface to see if it’s true? It’s also a comforting sense, one that brings security or relaxation.
Things that please my sense of touch include
The softness of babies’ ever-so-slightly downy skin
The grain of the wood on my kitchen chopping block
A foot rub or back rub when I’m achy
The warmth of a hot water bottle on a cold winter’s night
Clean and ironed bed linen
Fresh air on my face after being inside the house for hours
Warming sun on my skin that makes the muscles relax
Sense of Smell
Smell is another sense that we seem to take for granted all too often. It is only when our ability to smell disappears, for example when we have a cold virus, that we realise how much we use smell – from detecting something unpleasantly stinky to the rich aroma of our morning coffee or the sweet fragrance of roses in a corner of the garden.
Among many, things that please my sense of smell include
The earth after it has rained on a warm summer’s evening
Toasted bread just as it pops out of the toaster
New leather shoes
Freshly grated lemon zest
Sun-warmed sand on a beach
Newly mown grass
Marzipan (even though I can no longer eat it!)
Is emotion a sense? I suspect not, but I’m including it in this list for the reactions that are invoked.
Some of the emotional senses that I particularly value include
The love I feel for my family
The joy of my rugby team winning (I don’t own a team, it’s the one that I support)
Laughing so much that I cry
A shared happy secret with someone I care about
The relief on finding something that I thought was lost
The pleasure of giving a gift
The pleasure of unexpected compliment
The security of the feeling of belonging
The satisfaction of completing a task.
One additional unexpected source of pleasure has been writing my first book Grounded. I didn’t expect to find the process so interesting or to find the time spent putting my thoughts down in writing to be so calming. In fact, I anticipated that it would be quite the opposite.
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So, I invite you to write your own list, perhaps just 10 things that please your senses and share them in the comments of this blog post. We could build a wonderful catalogue of the little things that we appreciate and make us happy – Over to you.