I believe we can all relate to learning in school that there are 5 senses in the body and you can recite them easily - sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. But there is research to show there are 3 more senses! Let’s dive in to learn what the other 3 senses are and how all 8 can empower you in better health and aging gracefully!
Here are the 8 senses according to sensoryhealth.org. We are familiar with the first 5:
Now the next 3 you may not have heard of:
Proprioception - This senses the position of the body through receptors in the muscles and joints. I.e. posture, coordination in our movement and motor skills
Vestibular - This senses movement and orientation of the head in space. I.e. keeping eyes on a target while moving, dynamic balance. I.e. spinning, dancing
Introception - These are sensations from our internal organs. I.e. Am I hungry? What emotions am I feeling right now?
Each one of these 8 senses collect information about our interaction with the world around us. Our senses are constantly working even if we are not consciously thinking about it, they are always working in the background. The information our senses collect keep us safe as we move through the world. One example is safely driving a car. When you are driving a car you are watching the road to not hit anything, touching and turning the steering wheel to steer the car, and feeling if the car is on a smooth road or a gravel road. Our senses also give us feedback needed to do our work or enjoy our hobbies whether we are creating, building, practicing a sport, reading a book or listening to music. Most importantly for the purpose of this blog entry, our senses give us information about our health. If we are paying attention we can notice changes such as stiffness before it turns into pain or changes in our body to ask our primary doctor about.
Many things threaten our senses such as stress, inflammation and the daily use of screens on phones, tvs, and computers. Our senses are dulled or ignored as we get caught up in the whirlwind of life’s busyness and time with screens and media. We start to miss information and clues to our best self care. It happens to all of us and here is a simple way to get back on track. Take 5 minutes each day to ask yourself a question for each sense. It is a check in that can be done any time of the day. Start a journal if writing things down is easier for you. Here is an easy starter set of questions:
What is something round you have seen today?
What is something nice you smelled today?
Think of something you ate today. Was it salty, sweet, sour, something else?
Close your eyes. Are the clothes you are wearing soft, smooth, a little rough, or itchy?
With your eyes still closed.. What is one thing you can hear? Background music, a car passing by, something else?
Notice your posture. Are you slouching or leaning?
Scan through your body from the top of your head down to your toes... Do you feel any pain or tension anywhere?
There are no right or wrong answers! It is also ok if you can’t think of an answer, just move on to the next question. It will get easier each time you do this. And when you start to notice patterns with your senses, your questions will evolve. You will get more information from your senses and you will start to feel more confident in making decisions about self care and in what you do with your time. If you find that a sport or activity is making your body hurt, you have the information you need to change that and do what is right for you. Maybe you will feel inspired to try new healthier recipes.
Our 8 senses are a window to our inner wisdom. It is empowering to label them, understand them and listen to them. They are not the final answer to many of our problems but they give us good information to guide us to the best solutions. Each of us have certain senses that come easier to us. I encourage you to take the time to work at the senses that seem harder to listen to. It will get easier and the resulting information will be worth it.