Do you ever wonder why certain days in our memory stand out more than others? One variable boils down to the body's tactile memory and imprint of the environment we were surrounded by. Sensory stimulation allows us to be more mindful and present, but it's all too easy to remain disconnected from the senses and miss the messages our body is communicating to us. Building habits is a part of routine, but the daily repetition should also be balanced with experiencing the positive sensations around us. Below are some examples of where our senses can take us:
Hearing: Music can lift the soul, allow for relaxation, and even motivate us to get up and move. Certain noises can even calm the central nervous system and upregulate our "rest and digest" outflow.
Smell: Certain smells of cooking may trigger enzyme productions, such as salivary amylase, and even enhance our digestion/absorption. Aromatherapy, which can be used in mind-body classes, may even optimize our taste.
Balance/Proprioception: The sense of our body in space and spatial orientation is central in our direct communication with the environment. We constantly receive feedback from the environment, and our bodies interpret these messages in delivering our motor responses. Practices like qigong focuses on breathing, balance, and coordination; it also causes our calf muscles to contract which can also have a parasympathetic response in our body.
Temperature: Cold exposure allows our body to initiate thermoregulation, which can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase our metabolism (it may not be on our minds to try, but the benefits to our overall central nervous system are well substantiated). Even in inclement weather, the rain can calm the anxious mind by providing ionized air and white noise.
Movement, relaxation, and sensory stimulation are all a part of the amalgam of the human experience. We all have the ability to pay more attention simply by tuning in and creating a sensory journey at home.