Our inner guidance comes to us through our feelings and body wisdom first-not through intellectual understanding. The intellect works best in service to our intuition, our inner guidance, soul, God, or higher power-whichever term we choose for the spiritual energy that animates life.
~Dr. Christiane Northrup
Recently, I experienced an epiphany and a shedding of another limiting belief. Like me, you probably were taught that we have five senses-sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Most of us have all these and hopefully, engage them every single day as we savor the sight, aroma, taste of a delicious meal, look into the eyes of a beloved one, and touch the surface of a cell phone or feel the gooey, cold, liquid soap and warm water as we wash our hands noticing the bubbles, sensing the wetness flow over our skin.
Yet, you have three more senses that reside in your inner body that include viceroception —the sensation of body cues-which includes the urge to go the bathroom, the hunger and thirst you experience if you haven’t had nutrition or hydrated your body in a bit. Another sense is interoception, which is your ability to feel your inner body —the muscles in your legs when you walk, stand, or run, your heart pounding, your stomach clenching, your eyes gripping rather than feeling soft in their sockets. The eighth one is proprioception, which is the ability to sense our body’s position and movement or postures including sensing how close or far away our entire body is from another person and moving through a doorway without bumping the sides. Most actors and dancers become quite aware and develop this particular body sense. Currently, this last one has been important in the practice of social distancing, sensing the six feet gap between our bodies.
The ninth sense is intuition, which often comes with body sensations such as a pit in the stomach, tingling inner chills that flow inside the body like an inner shower of energy, or simply a knowing hunch that might be difficult to describe.
In fact, you may not be able to explain your experience of intuition in words because this sense seems to live in a place where words fail to go. The core of intuition seems to be a sense of energy or connection that stretches beyond just your body to a larger, expansive context.
What I find fascinating-besides the fact that I wasn’t taught about the nine senses-is that I observe that many people (including me!) can spend a great deal of time in the mind rather than our bodies. Yet, our bodies hold great wisdom, as do our hearts. I could be wrong, but it seems like we usually notice our inner bodies when we experience discomfort or pain —a headache, a muscle strain, or nausea. This body discomfort then becomes a distraction from our busy thinking minds, an annoyance, and something to medicate away rather than take the time to “go there” and deeply listen. Rather than experience our body sensations as messengers of useful information that we really could pay attention to, many people ignore what the body communicates in whispers at first.
Cultivating intuition or higher levels of consciousness seems to correlate with the idea many sages have shared that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Practicing mindfulness from an awakened inner self witness expands the experience of quiet presence, an increased ability to notice all nine senses as a celebration of being human in body, mind, heart, and spirit. Practicing daily meditation opens the doorway to the part of us that has been with us our entire lives. This Inner Fly on the Wall, Inner Knowing, Quiet Witness, or Peaceful One notices the body sensations, the thoughts flowing through, the feelings as they rise, fall, and flow, our rhythmic inhale and exhale, the deep place. Yoga practice can also guide us to the inner body and breath awareness, a quiet embodied presence. Cultivating intuition or higher levels of consciousness seems to correlate with the idea many sages have shared that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Whichever path you take to discover this part of you and whatever name you call it, know that many of us have the ability to experience this life force of awakened awareness.
As I approach celebrating six years of daily meditation and mindfulness practice on August 7, I savor the many benefits for mind, body, heart, and soul. I dabbled for years, then finally committed to the daily ritual as my outer life imploded. Meditation and mindfulness became a soul bridge over the troubled, churning waters of my outer life and now a foundation upon which I continue creating the beautiful life I’m utterly grateful to live every single day with enduring appreciation for the simplest things.
What if we spent the next few moments fully awake and aware of our three inner body sensations, five senses, and intuition? Would this rapt attention allow our minds and bodies to become centered? How have your nine senses supported your life? What are you learning about thriving in body, mind, heart, and soul?
I welcome your thoughts, reflections, and insights.