“We live in an age of speed, where people are constantly being fed one jarring stimulus after another. Traffic, crowding, crimes, television, and advertisements all jam our senses, our receptive equipment, so that we shut down our sensitivities to the world around us just to survive. We learn not to pay attention […] We cease to see, hear, feel, smell much of what is around us. We listen to no one, including our own inner selves and feelings …” Penelope Smith, Animal Talk
Though Smith, an expert in interspecies communication, is speaking here of our latent abilities to communicate with the animal world, her words shoot straight to the heart of October’s global theme as Awareness Month. In my world, awareness is about awakening or re-awakening the Self. I say re-awaken because we were all very “awake” as children, highly curious and aware, which contributed to our rapid intellectual and emotional development.
We are sensuous, sentient beings – we take in the world around us through our senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) and our emotions (joy, fear, anger, sadness, etc.). We create experiences, evaluate, make decisions and store memories by melding these two. We then draw upon this information to guide us through life. When we dull, ignore or close off our senses, as Smith so deftly describes, we rob ourselves of the deep inner knowing that leads to informed choices. Awareness is the key.
Most of us don’t even realize how “unaware” we are. We are too busy with the business of life. Whoever said we should “take time to smell the roses” offered sage advice. When was the last time you really did smell a rose? Closed your eyes, put your nose in the petals and breathed deeply? Felt the satin of those petals against your cheek? Nibbled their sweetness? Listened ever so closely for the rustle of its waxy green leaves as you brushed against its branches? Examined the flower for veins of varying color? Try it. See how it feels. If not a rose, take a walk, eat a peach, or watch a sunset. Use your senses as creatively as you can to experience whatever it is you choose. In my own experience, a certain peace comes over me, and a greater awareness of everything seems to arise.
Re-engaging our senses takes practice … takes patience … takes time … we must slow down … for a moment … or two … maybe more. Some senses may be harder to re-awaken than others. Note this. Maybe you’ve shut one of your senses down for a reason. Find ways to coax it back to life. Your efforts will be rewarded. When we open our senses fully we give ourselves the gift of time with Self. We quiet our myriad thoughts into a concentrated effort of deep Awareness. When we become more cognizant of the small things in life, it is quite amazing how this kind of heightened consciousness affects the way we handle the big things, too.
My mantra in my coaching work with others and in my own life is:
~ Awareness brings knowledge, with knowledge comes choice, with choice comes action, and with action change – positive change – is possible! ~