When I find myself stuck – in work, relationships, even daily routines – I often feel too lazy, uninspired, or fearful about taking steps to ignite my passion. It is when I find myself in a such rut that I desperately need new ways to connect with others, feel curious, and be open to new possibilities and relationships.
One approach I have used to ignite my passion is to intentionally focus on each of the five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch – as I engage in different activities. Ayurveda, which is a complete system for personal well-being, honors the senses as the way in which we process the world around us. Our sensory impressions affect our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being - think of how you feel when you listen to a musical masterpiece or smell a calming aroma. Research supports what wisdom traditions inherently know – when you experience beauty, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel love and joy.
Intentionally using your senses in new ways can help ignite your passion for everyday living. Here are some ideas that may intrigue you:
Visual impressions – what you see when you look at the world – have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing. Whether it is looking at a beautiful painting, a mandala, or going outside and looking at the intricacies of nature, sight can be healing.
Exercise: Go for a mindful walk in nature. For this walk, purely focus on noticing the colors, patterns, shapes, and textures of the trees, grass, flowers, dirt, sky, clouds. Everything around you!
The vibrational energy of sound stimulates physical, emotional, and spiritual reactions. For example, in primordial sound meditation, mantras are specific sounds to help you get to deeper levels of awareness.
Exercise: Sit and listen. You can choose a quiet place or a really busy one. Just sit. Take a deep breath, in and out. Continue to breathe normally, and just listen. What do you hear? The more you listen, the more layers of sound you will notice. It is amazing to hear all the noise in a quiet space. And all the moments of silence in the noisiest of places!
Smell is considered one of our most primitive senses and connects us directly to memories, emotions, and instincts. Aromatherapy in Ayurveda is a way to balance emotions and heal.
Exercise: Light a candle. Candles can be relaxing, invigorating, romantic. Find a scent that is new and intriguing to you. Take 5 minutes to truly enjoy the smell, taking relaxing long breaths, in and out.
Food, like oxygen and water, is most fundamental to our survival. With each bite, you have the opportunity to experience unique tastes and revel in the diversity of ingredients, recipes, and traditions that make our world vibrant.
Exercise: Eat a mindful meal. Ayurveda distinguishes six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. During the day, with each bite, notice the different tastes as you consciously chew your food.
Touch helps us feel connected to our body, surroundings, and to others. Therapeutic touch helps release the healing chemicals that support sleep, improve circulation, and build immunity.
Exercise: Give yourself – or ask someone you trust to give you - a head massage. Chose a warm soothing oil and starting at the crown of your head, gently massage down using small circular motions. Or, if a massage inspires you, try a traditional Ayurvedic full-body abhyanga massage.
Trusting our senses to connect us to our body, mind, and environment can open up new ways of seeing, feeling, thinking, and being.