This blog is not about inhaling the glorious odor of Helix Phalaenopsis orchids in Vanuatu. Instead, I’m going to invite you to see how your senses can help you travel to the limits of your sight, hearing, smelling, touch, taste, balance/movement and body awareness. Each sense can also take you deeply into what is close at hand. Each connects to your brain’s memory centers, joining past to present.
Here’s how this works for me….
When I’m out in nature, I can see, hear and smell what’s happening beyond my immediate reach. Those senses draw me out, to the source of the sight, sound or odor. I can imagine what might be happening at that place—where a squirrel is scolding a hawk, or a patch of blooming flowers is doing its best to attract pollinators. I can imagine myself heading there, using lines of sight to find the originating point of sensory stimulation. If these sources are part of expansive vistas—a distant forest fire, flocks of squawking birds or cloud formations—my senses invite me to soar to those far-off places. My curiosity is aroused—what’s going to happen next? My creativity is teased out—what do those cloud-shapes remind me of? My gratitude grows—for beauty, awe and the ability to take it all into my soul.
All my senses—perhaps especially touch, smell, taste, balance/movement and body awareness—come into play when they encounter what’s close at hand. The feel of a smooth river stone, the joy of a brisk walk, the subtle taste of a wild onion, the delicate touch of a Daddy Longlegs spider crawling over my feet—each of these brings me deeper into what’s nearby. Creativity, curiosity and gratitude well up again, fueled by my imagination about the small wonders around me. The intricacies of what’s close are heightened by the close-up capabilities of my body and mind.
Not all sensory travel requires extraordinary grandeur. Small parcels of grass, garden, woods, or water can offer the same invitation. (In my town, pocket parks and office complexes include small ponds, marshes, prairie plants, streams and tree-lined paths.) Urban areas include natural-world elements—green rooftops, community gardens, walking paths and habitats for nesting birds. In these locations, the simple act of looking out a window could provide the basic ingredients for sensory travel.
Sensory travel might be especially well-suited to those of us who can’t always journey to places of stunning natural wonder. I have spent enjoyable hours sitting on my front porch, taking in the complexities of trees. I’ve watched dogs ambling by, followed hard-working birds with my eyes, felt the shift of wind directions on my skin, noted the smell of burning leaves. I’ve marveled at weeds in their full glory and searched the skies to find migrating Sandhill cranes. All of this without moving more than a few feet out of my front door!
And what of your sensory journeys? Are there opportunities for you to let your senses take you far away? For your imagination to travel as far as your sight, hearing and smelling allow? For your touch, movement/balance and body awareness to make you joyful about marvels close-at-hand? I think so.
Or you could go to Vanuata for the orchids….
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