A Date with the Senses

by Elizabeth on January 10, 2012

The human body gathers all of its information through one of five ways: Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch, and Smell.

(Some would say there’s a sixth, Intuition, but we’re talking about the physical right now.)

Most of us live our lives so incredibly disconnected that we barely notice the things around us, much less take in anything but unconsciously-gathered information from the world.  Sure, we know, spatially, that the desk is in front of us, and that it has mass, so if we run into it, it’ll hurt. We know that if we take a drink of the can of Diet Coke that’s closest to us, it’ll taste better than the one further away, that’s been there for a week.  We know that if the dog comes up beside us, and we pet his head, it’ll feel a certain way (and probably make the dog happy and quiet).

But that’s lizard brain thinking, folks.

The “lizard brain”, for anyone unaware, is that reptilian part of your brain that does things on autopilot.  It keeps you from getting hurt and causes all kinds of problems if it’s left to do the heavy lifting.  (We’ll get into that later this year, when we talk a lot more about risk-taking and fear, since the lizard brain is the king of all things fear-related.)

We’re not really experiencing those things.  Not fully, at least.  We’re not living our lives, because we’re not noticing them.

It’s time to smell the toast.

Rather than go into a great big DO THIS section, I whipped up a worksheet for everybody instead.  It’s a 6 page PDF, printable, that walks you through what daVinci called sensazione, or an appreciation and awareness of the senses.  Take a few minutes to play with it.  Paste it into your journal or shove it in a binder when you’re done.

(click the image to download the file.)

Cultivate your sensory awareness.

Make a date with your senses.  Wake ‘em up after all this time of being relegated to the backburner by the lizard brain.

When you’re done, come on by the forums and tell us what you’ve learned, too.  We’re having a blast over there, and you’d be more than welcome.

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Saper Vedere: In Which We Learn To See

by Elizabeth on January 9, 2012

saper vedere - knowing how to see

About a billion years ago, I had a blog.

Back then, we didn’t call them *blogs*, per se. We called them “online journals” and it was just a handful of insane exhibitionists who were putting their brains on the internet for the world to see. (And oh, did the critics like to tell us how self-centered we all were, and how this whole journal thing was a fad that would never catch on beyond a few crazy escribitionists. Imagine the sarcastic look I’m giving the past critics right now, when billions of bloggers would smack them with their MacBooks.)

Critic-Poking Aside…

The blog/journal was called Saper Vedere, after a phrase I’d read about in a biography of Leonardo daVinci.  Like I mentioned yesterday, the phrase means “knowing how to see” (or “learning how to see”, depending on who you talk to), and it was one of daVinci’s personal mottoes.  He believed strongly that you couldn’t get to the stage where you could learn from your mistakes (and other kinds of scientific testing) until you were able to learn to see what was around you clearly, and appreciate it for what it was.

At the time (the late ’90s, believe it or not…yes, we actually had the internet back then…), the motto, for me, was all about getting out of my own head.  Stopping the relentless overthinking of everything that was going on and just enjoying it all.  I mean, there I was, in southern California, surrounded by blue skies and palm trees, and most of the time, I had my nose in a book.  Or my head over a keyboard.  (Go figure.  Some things, clearly, don’t change all that much, eh?)

Sprinkling on some Saper Vedere

Let’s face a fact here.

Life isn’t about the big events and milestones and productivity.  Life’s about the little things — all the little moments inbetween that we all too often miss because we’re focused on something else entirely.

What that something else is for you really doesn’t matter.  Work.  Fear of the future.  Beating up on yourself for the past.  What you think you should be doing, or should have done.  We, as humans, have this weird tendency to completely ignore what’s going on right in front of our noses, because we’re just way too busy focusing on things we have absolutely no control over.

Seriously, people — if the aliens came to visit today, they’d think we were all batshit crazy, I think.

The time is NOW to see what’s around you.

No, I mean it.  NOW is the time.  There IS no other time.  The past is done and gone, and the future ain’t happened yet.*  And no amount of planning, wishing on stars, or rethinking is going to change that one, basic fact:  now is all you have.  So you’d better start making some use of it.

There are a thousand things right now that you aren’t noticing.

All around you, right this very second, there are gifts everywhere you look.  The feel of a coffee cup in your hand.  The gentle snoring of a dog on your feet. Some kind of amazing smell coming from a bakery as you walk down the street.  The very fact that you’re reading these words on a magic screen that lets you see the entire world without leaving your chair.  A perfect tomato in the fridge.  The scent of your child’s head after a bath.  Your partner’s laughter from the other room at some ridiculous thing s/he’s watching on television.  Brilliantly cold air (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) right outside your door.  Muscles that carry you wherever you think you want to go and lungs that let you power yourself on air alone.

But unless you notice those things, you’re ignoring those gifts.  You’re too wrapped up in tomorrow’s meeting or yesterday’s failures (or successes) to even notice.

Stop.  Stop reading this right now, and look around at the gifts you’re being given.

Now write them down.  Feel them.  Touch them.  Notice them.

It’s the first step toward that daVincian concept of saper vedere.

The moment is calling you.



*intentional misuse of grammar.  no emails, please.  :)

p.s.  Hop by the forums.  We’ve got an ongoing thread called “The Great Big Happy Thread Of Happy” where we’re listing the good stuff.  Come add a few of your own.

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