Sensing the Garden by Anita Avent, All images by Anita Avent
Perceiving our environments directly with the senses, without any commentary or judgment, is relaxing, healing, and good for the body, mind, and soul. When we are feeling happy and relaxed we are usually sensing life directly with the body instead of living in our heads glued to our thoughts about what may or may not be happening.
When we were children, we seldom lived in our heads thinking about life. Instead, we were present and attentive to each moment and lived in this freedom.
As we grew older, we learned to live in our heads and thoughts and to name and label each thought/feeling and store it away in the filing cabinet in our mind. This mental filing cabinet in our heads is the source of so much emotional and psychological suffering yet we have not yet realized this source of our misery. Once we do, meditation, sensory, and mindfulness practices can help us see the filing cabinet in action so we can change our perspectives and relax within our bodies.
Want to have a bit of fun and try a little experiment? If so, study the listing of body senses below:
- Temperature regulation
- Blood flow, heart rate
- Intramuscular movement
Now select one or two sensory mechanisms from the list above that resonate with you.
Let’s use this sensory list in this blog post to remind us that our sensory mechanism are many! We can notice the body’s sensory experiences no matter where we are located. Bringing our attention into the body and away from our thinking minds helps calm the nervous system and improve our digestion. Our actual physical experiences of the current moment are a more accurate indicator of what is happening than our mental thoughts “about” the physical experience.
This subtle shift of perception is healing for the body/mind and releases hormones that induces the relaxation response and reduces stress hormones.
Did you know science clearly proves movements initiated within the body are claimed and owned by the human brain a full 4-8 seconds after the neurons have fired into action? This blew my mind!
Here is an example of how we use these sensory tools in the garden:
• Select the sensory mode or tool we wish to explore from the listing—let’s
use the sense of touch as our example…
• Simply notice the feel and sensation of sweat dripping from our brow…or
coldness in our hands and feet. Perhaps something on our skin is itching.
• Feel and sense the tender or vigorous pulsing of blood in our temples or
chest. Feel our lungs expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.
• Feel the warm or cool moist air passing through our nostrils or our mouth as
we inhale and exhale.
• Notice how Mother Earth pulls our bodies with gravity.
• Feel and sense our fingers, toes, hands, bum, making contact with the
chair or touching the soil or a plant.
Consider welcoming the sensory experiences of the body regardless of any limits or restrictions you may currently be experiencing. There is always beauty (sometimes disguised or hiding) within each moment if we only look with an open mind and heart.
In peace and possibility,
Anita Avent Owner, Juniper Level Botanic Garden, Raleigh, NC – USA