The Senses Don’t Lie

All we have to believe is our senses: the tools we use to perceive the world, our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

One of the positives about getting older is that you’ve had more time to collect a diverse and interesting caravan of friends. For me, they range in age from 20’s to 90’s, encompass all ethnicities, all spiritual viewpoints and political bends, and have themselves bit into the apple of life making them all wonderfully interesting people. Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the morning with my dear friend Janey. An accomplished businesswoman, painter and astrologer, she is part visionary/part sensei, and among my favorite people to fall into deep conversation with. Commenting on the chaotic state of affairs in the US and abroad (and getting more and more disheartened) Janey reminded me that we have always had a way to process what is happening and discern for ourselves what is truth and what is external, extraneous din simply by checking in with our senses.

How marvelous we human beings are that we come with internal software which allows us to experience the world in a manner that can actually bypass the “intellectual” mind, which can be tainted with external bugs and faulty data input. But most of us have opted to override the simple information and understanding gathered through the senses in favor of the complexities and controversies that smother the simplest of thoughts. When did we get so far away from trusting our senses? Why?

Many have pondered this same question. Irish author Michael Scott explored this phenomenon in his best selling book The Alchemist – The Secrets of the Immortal
Nicolas Flamel. He writes: “Magic is really only the utilization of the entire spectrum of the senses. Humans have cut themselves off from their senses. Now they see only a tiny portion of the visible spectrum, hear only the loudest of sounds, their sense of smell is shockingly poor and they can only distinguish the sweetest and sourest of tastes”. Author and poet C. JoyBell C. adds: “Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy. The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don’t know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.”

I include myself amongst those that rely on the senses of the body and the soul to process my surroundings and the information I receive. Making a life in the creative realm is much different than being say, an accountant or a doctor. Creating beauty can’t be put into an algorithm and there is no stringent protocol or repetition which tells us which is the best way to proceed. Knowing when something feels right is more guttural, more primal. When I explore, daydream or pose alternate scenarios, I listen to the answers received involuntarily through my senses. They come so freely and without complication, that I choose to believe them as my truth. Because processing happens in the here and now there is no time to wander backwards into the attics of the mind which are filled with cobwebs of sentimentality or trauma. Nor can one leap ahead and fall into the stalling pits of uncertainty and fear. Processing through the senses helps when making decisions because one is not encumbered by the mental tug of war that happens when a question goes to the committee of the mind for input. Much less exasperating, I simply see how I feel.

Not processing through the senses really does us a disservice. It shuts us off from the inner self, that voice which always whispers our truths and knows life’s answers. It lengthens the otherwise short path from universe/source to individual being and, saddest of all, makes us doubt ourselves. For some, it’s been so long that they may need a primer on the senses to remember how they feel. The easiest way is to start by being still and quiet, simply looking and listening to what is happening around you without comment or judgment. Immerse yourself in the smells and sounds of the moment. Then slowly become conscious of how your body is reacting – are you relaxed, on edge, smiling or frowning? These are all involuntary reactions and tell us a lot about how we are feeling. From there, start to apply simple questions and read your sensorial responses.

Processing through the senses builds the trust we have with ourselves. It makes us less reliant on the contradictory and disconcerting external world. It helps to reset our internal compass, which always points to our truth. It can answer questions like “do I feel like pizza or a steak?”, “am I doing fulfilling work”? or “does this person add value to my life or not”. It’s an alternative to processing through the corrupted filters of the mind and gives us clearer direction. In short, it makes life so much simpler and isn’t that what we are all pining for? The answers are all really simple, yet we complicate them so.

February is the month of love, the ultimate sense to strive for. What a great time to see, touch, smell, taste, hear, intuit and trust what your senses have to tell you.