By Deb Matlock
We often hear that, as humans, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. I certainly can feel the truth of that statement…and not just for humans! However, it also leaves out something especially important. We are also physical beings having a spiritual experience. What if we are equally both…physical and spiritual? And, what if living in deep sensory awareness is a bridge of sorts between the physical and spiritual worlds? What if our senses and our sensory connection to the wild, sacred earth is the bridge that brings together our physical and spiritual experiences; allowing them to coalesce and inform each other?
Our senses allow us to explore and experience the physical world. They allow us to take in the sights, smells, sensations, the tastes, and the feelings. They allow us to integrate those experiences into our bodies and into our minds. They also allow us to integrate those things into our souls, spirits, and hearts. Here again, sensory awareness is playing the role of the bridge. When we allow our senses to be front and center; when we allow that as embodied physical beings with a spirit that is driving us through our time on earth; our senses are kind of like our guides or our gauges to help us know which way to go, to help us know what we are attracted to, to help us understand where our heart is calling for us to focus.
Some people say we have five senses. I have also heard people say we may have up to 50 or 55 senses. People often include things like our feelings and our physical senses, like our pain and our awareness of what is going on with our body, senses of color, sensing moods, feeling the sense of gravity and air and wind. Whether we have 5, 55, or 105 senses is not as important as recognizing and celebrating the ones we experience. We have senses, they have value, and living from a place of awareness of our deep sensory connection to the wild world around us is one of the most radical spiritual acts that we can do.
For example, if we sit down to have dinner and we take stock of the sensory experience of what we are eating, does it allow us to slow down? Does it allow us to feel a more intimate connection with the natural world? Are we able then to savor, appreciate, and enjoy each bite in a different way? And similarly, if we are in a hurried situation and running down the street trying to get from the parking lot to a meeting and we don’t even notice the birds singing or the breeze on our cheek, what are we missing in terms of our vivid experience on this earth? Alternatively, we can still find ourselves rushing down that sidewalk. We can still be hurrying to get to a meeting. But we can also notice the birds. We can also feel the breeze. We can also allow ourselves to be in our place, in the natural world as a sensory aware being, as a human.
When we are fully sensory-focused, do we do we become people that are more aware of what is going on around us? Are we able to engage in our lives just a little bit more deeply? Do we become people who are fully living our physical and spiritual experience here at the same time, and do we equally honor this beautiful physical earth and the spiritual experience of being here? I wonder about this…and I think exploring this question is worth the effort.
Deb Matlock grew up in the mountains of Colorado and is deeply committed to nurturing the connection between people, animals, earth, and spirit. She has spent twenty-five years working as a professional environmental and humane educator and naturalist. Additionally, Deb offers shamanic-style spiritual guidance, animal communication, nature connection workshops, and retreats through her business, Wild Rhythms. She is passionate about helping people find connection and deep spiritual meaning in their lives and in the places where they live. Deb holds a Master of Arts in Environmental Education from Prescott College and is pursuing her doctoral degree in environmental studies at Antioch University New England.
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