Lose the vision, Move differently – explore a sensory journey

We rely so much on our vision to direct us in life. Because vision is so dominant in all that we do, the other senses of sound, touch and smell fall to the wayside, meaning we miss out on a lot that goes unnoticed while our vision dominates. A great way to alter our perception and heighten our less utilised senses is to simply DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY.

I used to take myself off to the park of an afternoon now and then. I’d choose a wide-open space, put my headphones on and turn my music up, close my eyes and run as fast as I could without opening them. It was thrilling, scary, and the purpose was to challenge my perception of things. At the time I was suffering from some fairly dark days in my life and this was a part of moving me through my depression to reach a point of feeling invigorated and momentarily alive. Sure, it wasn’t until I addressed the real reasons behind my depression that things shifted more permanently, but it certainly helped me until I found a way to do that.

I have explored this idea of shifting consciousness via the senses quite a bit in my life. As a facilitator of Creative Arts Therapy workshops, I use multi-modal methods of self-enquiry; this might include movement, sound, voice, writing or visual art. I found for myself, and often for the people I have worked with since using this method, that the most effective modality is the one most unfamiliar to the user. The reason for this is simply that they are using parts of their brain that aren’t often used. They’re waking up some senses that are otherwise left dormant.

There are some wonderful dance techniques that explore the effects of movement to inspire creativity, like Body Weather or Butoh. These dance practices encourage movement that is counter-intuitive. The challenge of negotiating arms and legs into a formulated movement that doesn’t come naturally takes focus and concentration – using the mind differently – waking up parts of the brain that may otherwise lie dormant, activating creativity and new perspectives.

Try this one: if you’re struggling with a decision or trying to solve a tricky problem. Walk around the backyard backwards for a good few minutes while you contemplate your problem. You might find a fresh perspective. Or try writing with our opposite hand – that somehow seems to skip a lot of the peripheral information zipping around in the mind and gets to the core of the issue you’re writing about more quickly.

How is that useful for my yoga?

In a Kundalini yoga class we practice with our eyes closed. The reason for this is to shift the gaze from outward to inward. The focus is less on perfecting a posture and more on engaging the senses and practicing personal awareness. This practice offers a wonderful opportunity to fine tune senses other than the visual. I tend to think that one of the very beneficial things about a Kundalini yoga class is the activation of the sleepier parts of the brain; the development of the ability to translate instructions to action within your own body and fine tuning our awareness of what’s happening in the body and mind while we do that.

Sometimes I notice when I’m teaching a yoga class that no matter what I say, students will follow what it is that I’m doing. If I’m sitting down and I ask everyone to lie down, for example, they’ll stay sitting until I lie down myself :). Of course, it’s important to see what you should be doing when moving from one pose to another!.. however, over time, we develop the ability to relax our need to rely heavily on vision and trust ourselves and the process enough to let go and start to develop our other senses; listening and feeling.

From here, we can explore more deeply the movement of energy, the sensations within the body. We become more attuned to energetic cues all around us in our daily lives. These cues may (and often do) differ from the visual cues. Very useful!




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