By: Rich Liotta
Our senses are our connection to the world. They are the sum and substance of all individual and shared experience. They are necessary to our survival and effectiveness. They are also tools to be utilized to enhance our appreciation of all that surrounds us!
One of the necessary steps to abundance is appreciation (see my previous article). Part of how we appreciate our experience is by paying attention to our sensory experience. Sensory experience can be visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or feelings, touch, taste, and smell. Are you fully using the gifts that you have in order to experience appreciation? Appreciate what is beautiful and what is appealing or interesting. What stimulates your mind to go in different directions? People have the capacity, which is not always helpful, to primarily live in their heads, live in the realm of words, live in the realm of concepts. While this may be gratifying at times because of their connections to experience it not the fundamental experience. Appreciation is not just thought, appreciation is perception.
Perception, through our senses, is important to differentiate from thought and language. Language is separate from our experience to one degree or another. Language is an abstraction. Language and thought are about what we perceive, sense, and experience. It is about understanding and communicating experience; it is not the experience. Language and thought are wonderful skills, to find meaning, draw conclusions, and to navigate our experience. Indeed it is another aspect of how we can appreciate, through the meanings we make; but that’s a topic for another time.
Because many of us are so in our heads, the value of perceiving all that our senses can offer is diminished. We need to notice things to appreciate them! This is sometimes easier said than done. We register consciously only a small percentage of what we perceive. We learn to filter; we learn what is important and tend to disregard the rest. To build appreciation it is critical to adjust our filters so we perceive more, what makes us feel good, and not just what we need to know to survive! You can limit yourself by what we expect, so look and listen for the unexpected. Look with new eyes, hear with openness, and consider the possibility that there is something here that you do not expect. You will be surprised how often things are not quite how you anticipated them to be! Definitely something worth appreciating!
Celebrate your senses. Celebrate the wealth all you can see, hear, and feel offers you everyday of your life. If you perceive beauty the appreciation will come. I invite you to consider all you can appreciate. When have you appreciated the subtle changes in a loved one’s facial expressions? When was the last time a piece of art or a landscape filled your heart with warmth? Remember when you heard that song and it stirred something in your soul? Is it the sound of rain, the wind, waves lapping on the shore, or something else that inspires you? Do you notice how your emotions feel in your body? When you are happy, enthusiastic, sad or joyful how does your body express the feeling? Do you appreciate about the experience of your body in motion as you walk, stretch, or participate in sports? Can you allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of petting your dog, the feel of a comforter or a well washed towel, or the touch of a lover or a friend? What feelings of touch nurture you? Can you let yourself really appreciate the taste of chocolate, your favorite meal, or the smell of pine needles or your favorite perfume? We are bodies in the world and our bodies are the portals for experiencing the world. Utilize it, enjoy it, cherish and appreciate all that is there for you.
In all likelihood reading the last paragraph triggered a variety of memories of the beauty of sensory experiences have had or can imagine. This illustrates another point, our sensory experiences are not just out there, they are inside of you. Because of how our minds work imagining sights, sounds, and feelings is often as powerful as being there. This ability opens the door to all kinds of possibilities to change our state and improve our lives. For instance visualizing feeling good and imagining the sensation of feeling good is infinitely more effective than just repeating to yourself, “I feel good, I feel good, really, I feel good…” Perceiving the outside world and your inner experiences with sensitivity and appreciation opens the door and invites abundance into your life.
Practice appreciating variation, beauty, novelty, color, pattern, rhythm, tone, sensations, flavors, scents, and feelings that your world offers you. Appreciation is opening up your perceptions. We have at least five senses and some would argue we have more than that. Noticing any sensory experience requires attention and awareness. What beauty can I see, hear, feel right now? What is the beauty in things that at first glance are not so beautiful? If something is not beautiful, what is it?-and is there something to appreciate anyway? Perception is a gift. Appreciation is an attitude and a way of being. Appreciation of our experience is a gateway to abundant living.
For myself, I appreciate all the ways that the people I encounter view their worlds, for better or worse. Each of us is an example of the unique and infinite variations that there are to be appreciated in the world. My love of art and photography are also my ways to remind myself of all there is in the world to appreciate. I love looking for the inner beauty, finding nature’s beauty, and seeing the details that others do not notice. That gives me a kick and it gives me a deep appreciation of experience and life. What does this for you?