Mr. Potato Head is one of those toys that most of us either had as a child or we are familiar with; his head has parts – eyes, ears, nose, mouth and hands that can be removed and replaced as a child sees fit. Mr. Potato Head has these sensory parts; but cannot perceive anything through them. In essence, he is disconnected from his senses.
How are we like Mr. Potato Head sometimes? We know we have eyes, ears, a nose, a mouth and hands but we do not always use them to their full potential. We are too often “in our heads” thinking, pondering or worrying and as a result, we remain disconnected from our senses and the rest of our body.
What are our senses? “Our senses are the physical means by which all living things see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Each sense collects information about the world and detects changes within the body. Both people and animals obtain their knowledge from their senses, and that is why our senses are so important.
All senses depend on the working nervous system. Our sense organs start to work when something stimulates special nerve cells called receptors in a sense organ. We have five main sense organs. They are the eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin. Once stimulated, the receptors send nerve impulses along sensory nerves to the brain. Your brain then tells you what the stimulus is. For example, your sound receptors would be bombarded by billions of sound waves. When these signals reach the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, we become conscious of the sounds.” Quoted from http://library.thinkquest.org/3750/ ***This website is generally for kids, but it is an informative website that simplifies what our senses are, how they work and the cool things about them. You also get to click on Mr. Potato Head!
The interesting thing that I have found while researching the internet is that there are numerous sites with information and activities for children regarding their senses; but very few for adults. I suppose this is symbolic of how as adults, we have become disconnected from our senses.
As children, we are encouraged to not only understand them, but to connect and have fun with them. Then as adults, with responsibility and the stress of life, we forget this simple wisdom – to take time to look at something beautiful, stop and smell the flowers, listen to wonderful sounds, savour our food and drink, and to touch and be touched daily.
This is extremely important in getting re-connected with our bodies and as a result, to our authentic self and inner child. According to scientist George Burns, when people are given an opportunity to list what things they enjoy the most, in regards to their senses, he “notes in his book that depressed people tend to have the shortest lists; the healthiest, happiest people tend to have long lists. After therapy, or even as part of therapy, people tend to develop longer lists.”
Practical Sensory Activity:
Do you have 20 minutes to get to know your senses? Want to have some fun with a friend or partner? Follow these steps:
What you will need:
What to do: One person chooses from the following list of these five items. The other person is blindfolded (save the visual one for last) and relates what they hear, smell, taste, and feel AND how it makes them feel (or think) while experiencing each one. Then exchange.
1. Sight: Go through a photo album (book or on your computer) and find a beautiful picture. Print it out. (You could also use a painting in your home).
2. Hearing: Find a cd or radio station with music that you enjoy and put it on.
3. Taste: Fruit or any type of food that has a distinct or citrus flavour
4. Smell: A flower, fragrant oil or anything with a strong smell
5. Feel/Touch: A feather or something with a very soft texture
Say goodbye to Mr. Potato Head and hello to Mr. or Ms. I-stop-and-smell-the-roses!
Next Blog: Practical Ideas to Connect with Our Senses and the Healing that Can Come from It.