Have you ever had the opportunity to just sit and exist on this planet; to really enjoy our human ability to experience our senses? On the flip side, have you ever imagined what it might be like to lose one of your senses? Maybe your sight, hearing, or even the ability to use your hands?
In grade school we were taught that we have five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. We have since learned that there is SO much more to our senses as a human! We have the ability to experience balance and acceleration, temperature, and proprioception (where our body is). The human sensory system is so very sensitive and detailed; but why?
The University of Utah has released a great article (https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/senses/twentysenses/) demonstrating 20 different ways that human can detect senses, and according to the researchers involved in this publication, senses collect a form of information and provide them to the brain in a way that we can understand. In smaller terms, senses help us learn! We use our senses to learn about the environment around us; what it has, what it can provide for us, how it operates, and how we fit into the world around us. We also use our senses to learn about ourselves; what our bodies do, what we are capable of, how we relate to everything around us, and how we can act differently through our learning. To provide a classic example, imagine touching a hot burner. The very millisecond your hand touches that hot burner, your body knows to remove your hand before you ever got a chance to think about what was happening. Following this, you look at what you touched. You see the burner; it’s red. You smell the hot burner; it smells like hot elements. You feel the heat radiating on top of it. All of your senses are now working to determine what happened, and what you can do differently to prevent that burn from occurring again. Now the next time you see, smell, or feel the burners radiating heat, you automatically know not to touch the burner.
Our senses work this way for many different situations, including trauma. When something significant happens to us, we remember what it feels like. We may not remember every detail, but we may remember what we saw; maybe it was a pink dress, or a yellow van. Our mind may remember what we heard; maybe there were birds chirping. Maybe someone was yelling. Our mind may remember what we felt; maybe we felt sick to our stomach, or maybe we felt pain. Our mind may remember something that may have seemed insignificant in the whole scheme of things, like the color of the wall, but because or senses detected this input during the traumatic event, we might remember this piece of information for a long time.
Senses are important in all types of life events; major and insignificant. Large and small. We learn from all of it. Some lessons are bigger than others, while others may seem small but are actually quite significant. We need sensory input in our lives.
So, go out there and get some good sensory input! Our challenge to you is to take some time to be aware of what sensory input you are taking in. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you taste? What do you smell? Check your balance; feel all four corners of your feet flat against the floor. What do you feel? Where are you?
And on another note; if you are looking for a fun way to experience controlled sensory input in a therapeutic setting, check out the Mountain Plains CSSN completely community accessible certified therapeutic sensory room! Access is available to anyone and everyone for $30 per session (cash only please!). Call us at 780-532-7170 to get your session with our fully trained facilitator booked today!