So much of how we perceive the world is through our five senses. Sensory information regarding smell is sent directly to the olfactory bulb. Visual information is processed in the visual cortex of the occipital lobe, sound is processed in the auditory cortex of the temporal lobe, smells are processed in the olfactory cortex of the temporal lobe, touch sensations are processed in the somatosensory cortex of the parietal lobe, and taste is processed in the gustatory cortex in the parietal lobe. They each have so much influence on our lives. I was contemplating about how the 6 tastes influence the teachings of Ayurveda and began thinking about all the senses and how they affect our lives everyday.
Our sense of smell – think about the smell of coffee and what it conjures up. I give coffee as an example because of it’s strong aroma. Who doesn’t know the smell of it? When I was growing up I remember the smell of coffee every morning that my dad would make. I was up by 4:30 AM several day a week for swim practice and he was often the one that would take me before I could drive myself. He would always take the time to grind the beans and make a cup before getting in the car. I missed that smell for many years until I married. My husband at the time would do the same and all those memories of early morning practices, and of course my dad, would come flooding back. When I divorced, I missed it again and I would literally make myself a small cup just to smell it, as I had yet to develop a taste for it at all. That is until my sister taught me to mix it with all kinds of yummy stuff like chocolate! What are some smells that illicit good memories for you?
Our taste buds – I find it fascinating that one person can like something and another hate it. Our taste buds are all so vastly different. Ayurveda works a lot with the six tastes of sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter. Each creates a different reaction in our mouth as well as our digestion. We all have certain tastes that we favor more than others. For a long time growing up I had insatiable sweet cravings. I truly couldn’t get enough sugary treats. Things have changed as I became more in tune with what makes me feel good and what doesn’t but I still like something sweet everyday- just not ALL day! I’ve learned to find sweet in foods that aren’t full of sugar like most fruit or even root vegetables. However don’t take away my chocolate! Our smell also has a great deal to do with our taste. Think about the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven! When we are congested from a cold or allergies we don’t have nearly the same reaction. Matter of fact I loose interest for food when I am unable to smell it. What are some of your favorite tastes and how does your sense of smell affect it?
The magic of touch – The food we eat, hugging our loved ones, petting our dog or cat or the clothes we wear all create sensations on our skin. Science has proven just how important touch is to the human being for survival. Have you ever petted a chinchilla? It’s amazing how soft they are! Now think of touching a reptile. I can’t stand reptiles because of how they feel yet someone else loves it. It affects the clothes we choose and even the food we eat. Certain textures really bother some people and even if the food taste good they can’t get past how it feels in their mouth. What are some of your favorite textures?
The power of site – To be able to see the world around us is incredibly powerful to our daily lives. Some of my favorite things to see are the brilliant fall colors, a magnificent sunset or a graceful sailboat out on the water. Our site has so much to tell us and gives us so much independence that we wouldn’t have without it. The ability to drive. Taking a walk on a mountain trail. Watching a fantastic movie. What are some of your favorite sites?
Our ability to hear – When we think about our hearing, often, the first thing we think of is music or listening to someone speak. But there are other sounds that inform us of what is going on around us. One sound I’ve grown to love is the sound of a chainsaw. Seems weird I know, but our summers here in the foothills of Northern CA are terribly hot. Many of us heat our homes with wood burning stoves so when I hear the chainsaws going I know that winter is on it’s way. It reminds me to begin to hunker in just a bit for some solitude and rest from the busyness of summer. Days are now getting shorter and nights longer. Time for a few good books. What are some of your favorite sounds?
As you go about your day, begin to tune into your senses more and notice how much of an effect they have on your life. Take a moment to appreciate what each sense does for you and how they might be determining your choices you make like what clothes you wear or what food you eat. Have some fun with it. I suspect you will notice things about yourself and your world you ever have before.