by Alan Davidson
Your body is your oldest and dearest friend. It is the map of your life. Your body has shared every single joy with you, and all the heartbreaks, too. The passing of your years is etched in your body, deep in your muscles; in the tell-tale way you tilt your head to laugh, thrust your hip in defiance, or shrug your shoulders in surrender. The grace of your bones moving through life, each joint molded by facia, tendons, and ligaments tells the tale of you. Do you notice?
When you listen close enough to your body, it has secrets to tell you; secrets of power and wisdom. Your body has the secret of the universes resting in the pulsing of your cells. Few of us realize the intricate power coiled in our gums, guts, and groin. Your body promises a power waiting for you to focus your attention and relax into your own wisdom. Do you notice?
Raw sensation is the language of your body. The un-sexy, un-glamorous primal immediacy of hot or cold, bitter or salty, bright and color, pungent and loud are the simple keys to your body’s power and wisdom…Do you notice? What do you sense right now?
Sensory Amnesia–“Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body,” said the Irish author, James Joyce. Mr. Duffy, a character in “The Dubliners” lived as many of us do. At best, rapt by the seductive stream of ego/thinking in our minds and split from the life of our bodies. The average brain thinks 70,000 thoughts a day (and sadly for most of us it’s the same 70,000 thoughts day after day after day).
Or at worst, many of us live afraid of the raw intensity of our bodies and craft lives disassociated from the sensations of touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight. Sensory Amnesia is what I call this divorce from our senses, our split from our basic body wisdom. The antidote for healing this great divide…
Raising Your Sensory IQ!
The absolute foundation for each of your Five IQs—physical, emotional, mental, moral, and spiritual–is sensation. Your body is riddled with sense receptors communicating non-stop with your brain–to the tune of 4 billion bits per second (Physical IQ). Every feeling has a sensation (Emotional IQ). Every thought, subtle as it is, has a sensation (Mental IQ). Every action, of course, has a sensation (Moral IQ). The flow of life force energy—prana or chi—through your body has a sensation; as well as every state of being—Joy, Peace, Gratitude, Big Mind, Compassion, Stillness of Pure Being–all have a sensation (Spiritual IQ).
Debbie and Carlos Rosas first introduced me to Sensory IQ dancing Nia in Santa Fe. Sensation is the language of your body; a language many of us have ignored (or misunderstood) for most of our lives. Feeling the sensations of your body is to actually experience yourself; raw, life coursing through you, present in the most immediate sense. The sensations of your body ALWAYS happen in present time. It’s impossible for your body to happen in the past, or in the future.
Martha Graham, the great American dancer and choreographer, said it this way, “The body never lies.” It is immediate truth. Your mind weaves the stories about what those sensations may mean—pulling you out of the raw experience—and into your stories, past or present. Stories never happen in the present moment; they are the creations of your thoughts and not the THING itself.
Sensing meditations have been around since the Buddha. A fundamental part of Vipassana (Insight) mediation is focusing the mind, gently, on the sensations of the body. This takes our awareness away from the stream of thoughts and thinking and onto the body and into the present moment. You have over Forty Thousand distinct sensations available to you through your senses. What! 40,000? Who knew?
Raising your Sensory IQ is noticing just how many of the sensations are happening in your body right now. Do you notice?
Sensation: Language of the Body
Each one of these forty thousand qualities, 44, 435 to be exact, is distinct from all the rest, and elegantly simple. Each sensation is a conscious experience, unique in itself. Each one may be connected with others in various ways. A large part of your thinking is your interpretation of these intricate complexes of your sensation.
The senses we best know–Touch, Sight, Hearing, Tasting, and Smelling are Elemental Sensations. You also have organic sensations in your guts, bones, joints, and muscles.
You have two sensations for pressure–they range from Light to hard (and include pain).
You have two sensations for temperature–they range from Hot to Cold.
You have four sensations of Taste: sweet, sour (acidic), bitter, and salty. Your taste receptors are of course found on your tongue. Eating is one of those complex sensations including taste, smell, touch (texture), not to mention the stories we tell about the flavors and foods we love, or love to hate.
Your ears can perceive 11, 600 sensations of sound, all available to you (unless you, like me, are hard of hearing because you went to way to many screeching concerts and/or spent way too many nights at the loud, throbbing disco).
Those 11, 600 sensational sounds fall into two categories, Tone or Noise. Tone is the movement of air particles in regular and continued sound waves. Tones are ‘high’ and ‘low,’ ‘harsh’ and ‘clear,’ ‘shrill’ and ‘mellow,’ as well as the musical scale. We detect volume through tone.
The sensation of Noise is the quick and irregular/shock or concussion of the same air particles.
Your eyes can perceive 32,820 sensations of light. You have 3 receptors in each of your retinas that register the sensations of Brightness and Color. Those three receptors, six for both eyes, allow for the delight of –Light to Dark and the Full Color Spectrum. Those six receptors create your experience of the play of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple, filtered through Bright white of black dark.
You have an unknown (and probably unimaginable number) of possible smells. You have 191 receptors that lie on a thumbnail-sized patch of tissue in your upper nasal passage.
Remember you have 3 receptors in the retina create the 31,000 sensations of light you can see). The smell of something is determined by vibrational frequency of its molecules. Smells fall into groups of similar qualities, and form a graded series, like those in tone/hearing or brightness/sight.
Sensory IQ Meditation: Everybody Sense Your…
Sit completely relaxed and comfortable. Turn your attention to your feet. Notice the sensations of temperature, pressure, or vibration; the feel of your feet pressing against the floor; the sensation of fabric or temperature on your feet.
Sense your hips pressing against your seat; opening to the sensations of pressure, temperature, or vibration.
Sense your hands resting.
Sense your head balanced on your neck and shoulders.
Sense the air moving in and out of your nose and throat.
Sense your chest rising and falling with each breath.
Sense your belly moving as your breath moves in and out.
If you notice yourself thinking, instead of sensing, very gently focus your attention once again on your feet and start again.
Quick Sensory IQ Test for Feeling Great!
We each have five vital intelligences; physical, emotional, mental, moral, and spiritual. Each of these IQs can be measured, and more importantly, boosted.
Sensation is the language of the body. Mastering the four pillars of physical IQ; strength, flexibility, grace, and bearing, rest on your ability to sense your body. They fall into three main categories: pressure, temperature, vibration?
Here’s your quick Sensory IQ test:
Sit or stand quietly for a moment.
How many different sensations can you feel right now?
One, two, three?
The more sensations you can focus on, the better to peak your physical, emotional, mental, moral, and spiritual IQs.
Here’s a wise tip: most of us get so busy with our lives we rarely notice any sensation at all. So if you’re tuned in to one or more you’re doing sensational!