Ep. 195: Going Beyond Our 5 Senses

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Some of my Adventure Mastermind clients have told me how their friends and family think it’s crazy when they come back from a retreat and they’re talking about a conversation they had with a tree, or a vision or lesson they received from a hummingbird or a manta ray.


People will say, “Wait, were you on mushrooms?” And it’s like, “Not then – this experience was totally sober!”

This is something we all have access to – we humans can go way past our 5 senses into more subtle, esoteric realms of knowing.


When we open ourselves to these options and even learn to cultivate different ways of knowing, the world is a much more rich and magical place.


We sense that we are all a part of this miracle of life, and we begin to feel more a part of nature instead of an awkward two-legged creature that’s trying to “fit in” despite our polypropylene underwear.


But before we dive into “the beyond,” let’s talk about our 5 senses to make sure we’re tapping into what’s possible there first.


These 5 senses (taste, smell, touch, hearing, smell) are what we currently use the most when experiencing our world. So here are some ways we can tune into these on a deeper level:


With touch, I like to tune into my skin – feeling the temperature of the air, the sensation of clothes on my body. Or outside in nature, I think of nature as touching me, and delight in this.


Hearing is a big thing for me, so listening for sounds really helps me drop in. Counting the different noises and how far or close they are to me. Even noticing things like my hair scratching against my coat, or the sound of my exhale.


When I’m guiding a meditation, we may try to notice any lingering tastes left from our tea or a recent meal. Outside, we might even see if the air has a taste, like the salty air along the ocean in Hawaii.


We can do practices like these with all of our 5 senses, and I hope you can find time to try this out soon… maybe even today 😉


When it comes to our other senses, I’d like to invite you to explore them outdoors, since that’s when most of us can more easily tap into them.


One that you may be familiar with is the way we sense things through our mirror neurons. Amos Clifford, in his discussions about Forest Therapy, calls this “Mirror Sensing.” You probably heard of this when it comes to humans, and how they help us develop empathy with how someone else is feeling. But this can extend to others in our environment as well – like when you watch a whale jump out of the water and you can feel your whole body respond. Or if you see a bird dive into the ocean and fly back up with a fish in its talons and you are in awe.


This evokes something in us – something that isn’t the same each time. A unique felt experience shared with that incredible creature.


These mirror neurons help us empathize and pick up on the mood of the more-than-human world. Forests, animals, plants, rivers, boulders. All of it!


This is somewhat related to the next sense, which Amos calls “Body Radar.” This is like the feeling you get when you’re drawn to something in the immediate environment. You can play with this in a safe outdoor spot like your backyard. Close your eyes, hold your hand out at your sides near your hips, with your palms facing out. Feel into the direction you’re facing with your entire body. As you turn, notice how you feel inside. Turn in a slow circle until your feelings sense contact with something in the world around you, even if you can’t see it – like a radar! Then open your eyes, and see what was calling to you.


Another more subtle sense we experience is “Imagined Sensing.” This isn’t so much about what we can see or touch, but more like an awareness of our emotional states or invisible energies.


Imagined sensing could be something like practicing listening to a more-than-human other, like a tree or a boulder. To do this, we start to cultivate the capacity to listen with our whole being, including our imagination. We let the presence of the rock or tree make impressions on our thoughts, emotions, and sensations – along with everything else surrounding us.


When we do this, we don’t want to conjure what we simply “want” to hear or block ourselves from receiving a message because we’re too closed off to the idea of it being possible.


Many of us were taught that anything imagined is “fake.” Not so here.


If we’re openly listening to that piece of nature in this way, we may get a flash of a memory, a vision, a wave of emotion. This is how we experience the “voice” of a tree or the message from a hummingbird. This isn’t just generated from within – it is also something we’re receiving from outside.


Practicing this invites us to believe:


1) that we can actually be in a relationship with more-than-human others like trees

2) that all things are alive and have consciousness/sentience

3) and that through this type of imagined sensing, we can actually have contact with that consciousness.


If you’re not all in on those ideas, no problem! Just play with them, experiment, and see for yourself.

One of the gifts of tapping into these sensory experiences is that they help us notice how we’re impacted by them; how we feel inside.


We go from sensory to sensual, as Amos says.


We differentiate between sensory input from the outside and the sensual experience of how we feel internally and the effect it has on us.


We can do this with each sense in any place in nature: outside I smell, inside I feel… outside I hear, inside I feel… And so on.


I dive into more ways of knowing in the full episode, but these various sensual experiences are the portal to an authentic relationship with nature and the more-than-human world. As children we knew this way of being intimately, but it was taught out of us.


Reclaiming our belonging in the natural world as humans is an essential step towards our own healing, and that of the planet. It is a key reminder of our interdependence with everything around us.


You Will Learn:

// Exercises to practice having authentic relationships and connections with more-than-human others.

// How tapping into our deeper ways of knowing – more subtle than the 5 senses – can heal us and the world around us

// How we can drop into our five senses in a deeper and more meaningful way to help us be more present

// Ways we can connect with our more esoteric senses in nature on a daily basis

// Plus… more evidence to support you haven’t totally lost it if you sense messages from the world around you



// Learn more about Amos Clifford’s Nature & Forest Therapy


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