Being Present Through Sensuality

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It’s easy to take our five senses for granted.

We’ve been seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching since the day we were born.

(Actually, since before the day we were born!)

Everything we know about the physical world has been filtered through our senses and then reconstructed in our minds to provide us with a mental representation of living in the physical world.

The stimuli from our senses are ongoing and incessant. When we are awake, our brains receive signals generated by the senses at every moment. Even when we are asleep, our dream experiences include visions and sounds as well as occasional tastes, smells and touch sensations.

Sensuality in the East

In the Eastern philosophies, the physical world, as experienced through the five senses, is maya — illusion. The true reality of life lies deep inside us all in the realm of being. Through the ages, monks, nuns and mystics have devoted their lives to down-playing the version of the world reported by the senses in order to better understand whatever lies beyond.

For most of us, that approach is drastic and unreasonable considering the activities and duties required by the lives we have chosen. Still, many of us feel drawn to catch a glimpse of whatever is beyond the five senses in order to help keep it all in perspective.

Beyond the Senses

The idea is to occasionally turn off the senses in order to better tune into the aliveness that lies beyond them. The realization that there is something beyond the world of the five senses can provide an “aha” experience, especially at first. With the senses turned off (or even turned down), there remains a vibrant sense of aliveness — the world of feeling and the realm of being.

When tuned into this lively sense of being, it doesn’t look like anything . . . it doesn’t have a smell . . . and it doesn’t have a taste. Being is beyond the domain of the senses. This pure being is who you really are, and who the five senses report to. This pure being is who experiences the world through the mechanics of the senses.

“Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

Once you are able to experience yourself as the one who is seeing, apart from what is seen, it’s a brand new world. You aren’t the sound, but the one hearing it. You aren’t the taste, but the one tasting it. You are beyond the reach of phenomenon — you are the one who is witnessing the phenomenon.

“Who is the watcher, who sits in the stillness and knows
And who is the looker, who notices the king wears no clothes
Who is the seer, who sees beyond the mind
And who is the seeker, who finds…. . The grand design”
- from the song, “Who is the Watcher” by Tupelo Kenyon

One

To take this idea a step further, in the Eastern philosophies, this realization of the difference between the experience and the one who experiences is only a stepping stone to oneness. In the state of oneness, you are everything — the eater as well as that which is eaten. The seer as well as that which is seen. The knower as well as that which is known. This is the experience of Unity consciousness, in which there is only one, in all its myriad variations, manifestations and clever disguises.

Experience It All

It’s a great place to visit but difficult to live in unity all of the time, while living in these physical bodies. It’s also not practical for most of us to bliss out with our total attention on the realm of pure being while ignoring the sensual world.

Perhaps turning your back on the physical world misses the point of living a life in a physical body. Our bodies are physical — why not experience the world in which it resides? It makes more sense to live life to its fullest, in ALL the realms we have access to, including the magnificently diverse physical world.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

With the understanding of life beyond the physical, a whole new world of wonder, appreciation and delight opens up. We can celebrate the small details of our physical existence and be grateful for the opportunity to experience so many wondrous things by seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching. It’s all part of the package, and to deny any part of it only lessens our experience of the grandeur of life.

“We find in life exactly what we put in it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Nothing Taken for Granted

Instead of taking it all for granted, we can pause a moment and let it sink in. We can get in the habit of allowing our sensory input to deliberately add to our sense of aliveness. We can marvel at the wonders of nature and know we are a part of all that is.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

Below are a few examples of sensuality contributing to presence. These experiences, and countless more can help us to be more present in this moment. Instead of placing our attention on the past by dwelling on memories or the future by dwelling upon what someday may be, experiences like these allow us to be fully present in this moment:

· Take a walk in the country or in a park. If possible, go to a wilderness area, forest or jungle. Notice the sights, sounds and smells. When you smell honeysuckle floating gently on the breeze (or some other intriguing fragrance), pause a moment to smell it again and experience it fully, in the moment. See it, smell it. Allow the wonder of nature to sink in and fill up your senses.

“Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

· Bake bread and smell the rich aroma deeply. Pause and take a big breath as you breathe in deep.

· Cut a few flowers and place them in a vase on the table. Enjoy the smooth sensation of the stems and the silky petals. Put your nose in the center of a flower and be here now.

· Look deeply into the center of any flower you see and marvel at the incredible symmetry, the rich colors and the outrageous design provided by nature. Check out iris, morning glories, orchids and roses for sure, as well as any wildflowers you come across. Notice the tiny ones as well as the others.

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

· Go to the grocery store or farmer’s market and buy the freshest, most perfect fruits and vegetables you can find — preferably organic. Prepare a meal with them while enjoying the process to the fullest. As you break the cauliflower, catch a whiff of the subtle smell. Notice the deep, orange color of the sliced or grated carrots, and the pungent aroma of the onions and garlic. Be present as you appreciate the abundance of nature while preparing the food as well as when you eat it.

· Watch the birds. Appreciate their colors. Listen to their songs. See them build their nests and feed their young. They are incredibly diverse and easy to take for granted. Don’t.

· Go to a creek or a waterfall. Feel the spray on your face and breathe in deep the negative ions to energize your body. Listen to the rhythm of the rapids, the subtle melody of the gentle ripples and the roar of the waterfall. If it’s a warm day, jump in and feel the cool sensation tickling your skin. Get wet. Be chilled. Feel alive.

· Be alone with nature. Enjoy it single-mindedly, with no distractions. Commune with the natural surroundings and allow yourself to feel the sacredness of the world reported by so many of the earth’s indigenous peoples.

“Solitude, in the sense of being often alone, is essential to any depth of meditation or of character; and solitude in the presence of natural beauty and grandeur, is the cradle of thought and aspirations which are not only good for the individual, but which society could ill do without.” – John Stuart Mill (1806-73)

· When visiting a friend or family member, notice the small touches in their home. Appreciate and compliment the interplay of colors used. Notice and comment on the small items used to decorate and personalize their living space. These minor touches were chosen deliberately. Enjoy them. Some of the people you know are masterful at these subtle touches. Notice them. Appreciate them. Compliment the creator of such a comfortable and inviting living space. Be aware.

· Visit a garden — yours or another’s. Experience it deeply. Rub a tomato leaf gently between your thumb and forefinger and notice the texture. Then smell your fingers. Dig your hands in deep and get dirt under your fingernails. It’s okay – it will come out later. Smell everything that is generating an aroma. Notice all the new blooms. Marvel at the promise of life represented by the new sprouts. Get your face close to the flowers and allow them to communicate their magic to you through sight, smell, touch . . . and if they are the edible kind (pansies, for instance) . . . bon apetit.

· Enjoy a piece of succulent fruit. Pick a strawberry, orange, peach, mango, or whatever is your favorite fruit. Peel it or cut it and delight in the aroma. Inhale deeply as you absorb the subtleties. Notice how your mouth waters in anticipation. Now close your eyes and bite into it, allowing the taste sensation to explode. Be totally present with this culinary delight while feeling grateful for the miracle of fruit — how incredible it is that it grows on trees!

“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

· Go to the beach. Play in the waves. Body surf. Float on your back with your eyes closed. Tread water. Twist, turn and dance in the fluid support of mother ocean. Do it naked, if appropriate, and enjoy the loose feeling of water caressing your entire body. Swim underwater. Use a mask and snorkel so you have the opportunity to be wowed by and appreciate the world beneath the waves that covers three-fourths of the planet.

“The air is crisp and clean . . . the seascape is pristine
With crystal rivers rolling into the sea
The salty mist in the air, with a feeling free, fresh and fair
In wilderness, invaluable and rare”
- from the song, “Deep Sea Blue” by Tupelo Kenyon

Taste the salt on your lips. Breathe deep the rich, moist air. Be with the ocean and allow yourself to feel your connection to it as you ponder the classic metaphor of water as spirit.

“All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy; we reason from our hands to our head.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

· When it’s sprinkling, go outside and turn your face upward. Lie down on the grass and feel the drops tickle your skin. Be present with the sensation of wet and cool. Live it. Love it.

· Sexuality can be experienced with the same deliberate appreciation as all of the other sensual delights. Attention to detail and your focus on right here, right now, can take your experiences to new heights. Be present. Be sensitive. Be grateful. Be amazed.

· Make an appointment with yourself to listen to music. This is different that having music playing in the background. Pick a time when you won’t be interrupted and spend some time totally immersed in the music. Don’t do anything else at the same time. Just close your eyes and listen. (Check out previous article: “Music for Personal Development.”)

“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Choose your favorite music and listen closely enough to hear it like never before. Take in all the subtleties that you may have missed in the past. For best immersion in the music, get comfortable in your favorite chair or lie down and put on headphones. This will help you stay focused on the music by minimizing distractions. (If you would like a very soothing and relaxing experience, try listening to “Celestial Sounds of Harmony and Light” — Volume One or Volume Two.)

“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

Choose Sensual Aliveness with Gratitude

Within the last month, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing all of these things, so it’s easy for me to recommend them. Choose them for yourself and make them happen. Be creative as you actively look for sensations that allow you to delight in the physical experience. Be present as you enjoy the sensory input in every fiber of your being. Be grateful for everything that makes it possible — the physical world, your body, your mind, as well as soul – the watcher to whom the experience happens.

“We are not physical beings who have an occasional spiritual experience. Instead, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.” — paraphrased from AA’s 12-Step Program and from Dr. Wayne Dyer

For Contrast, Turn It All Off

In the early 80’s, I had an unusual job for a few weeks while the owners went on vacation. I worked at a spa that offered sensory deprivation experiences. This was done in a specially designed “tank” with a few inches of salt water at body temperature. You climb inside and shut the sound-proof door and lie down in the water. Because of the high salinity, you float very well and have little or no sensation of anything touching your skin. You feel weightless. The inside of the tank is perfectly dark, quiet and still. The idea is to turn off all stimuli to your physical senses in order to deeply relax and more clearly recognize what lies beyond them.

I had many after-hours tank sessions and appreciated the opportunity of experiencing being present without the incessant sensory input. It helped me identify (and identify with) the still witness inside — the watcher — the place of pure being and awareness represented by the phrase, “I am.”

Unfortunately, a movie came out around that time and ruined the potential of sensory deprivation tank experience for most people. I saw the movie but don’t remember the details. It focused on the sensational, the outrageous and especially fear. (False Evidence Appearing Real.) Shortly thereafter, sensory deprivation tanks available to the public were nowhere to be found. A shame.

“Fear always springs from ignorance.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Meditation

Meditation provides the same opportunity as the tank for experiencing the state of being beyond the world of the senses. There are many methods of effective meditation. It’s best to try several approaches to find the ones that fit. (For a quick overview, read the previous articles, “Simple Toning Meditation” and “Guided Meditation for Self-Healing and Personal Development.”)

Putting It All Together

Sensuality is a beautiful thing, especially when experienced deliberately with delight and appreciation. The best way I’ve found to do that is by identifying myself with the still, silent place inside of pure being. From here, the wonders of life come pouring in through the five senses and contribute to the overall grandeur of life.

“What your heart thinks is great, is great. The soul’s emphasis is always right.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Being fully present is the key to enjoying everything the physical world has to offer, without being totally consumed by it or lost within it. It’s not necessary to deny ourselves any experience in order to live a full, vibrant life of growth and personal development. On the contrary, life is to be lived to its fullest here and now, so why not sample as much as we can, whenever possible.

“People seem not to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

When the world out there is complimented by the world in here, sensuality adds to our experience of “all that is” and helps us further realize our presence within it as well as our connection to it.

“Man grows rich by the use of his faculties, by the union of thought with nature.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs
Who is the Watcher

Explores the silent witness within and the idea that life occurs in this present moment. Always.

http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor-14

Deep Sea Blue

A simple love song to the wonders of nature in general, and mother ocean in particular.

http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor9

Songs by Tupelo

Related Links

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Benefits of Music for Personal Development

All music is not created equally. This article takes a look behind the scenes to catch a glimpse of how the intent of the composer translates to the feeling evoked in the listeners. Many links are included to streaming mp3s. Celebrate life through music!

Your Passion as Your Compass

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Articles by Tupelo

This is the end of the article entitled Being Present Through Sensuality published by Tupelo Kenyon on June 1, 2007 at 6:00 am | In Awareness, Meditation - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.


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  1. [...] Tupelo Kenyon shares insights on how to celebrate life through sensuality. [...]

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  2. TupeloKenyon.com » Being Present Through Sensuality

    The idea is to occasionally turn off the senses in order to better tune into the aliveness that lies beyond them. The realization that there is something beyond the world of the five senses can provide an “aha” experience, especially at first. With…

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  5. [...] Being Present through Sensuality The idea is to occasionally turn off the senses in order to better tune into the aliveness that lies beyond them. The realization that there is something beyond the world of the five senses can provide an “aha” experience, especially at first. With the senses turned off (or even turned down), there remains a vibrant sense of aliveness – the world of feeling and the realm of being. [...]

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  6. [...] Being Present through Sensuality The idea is to occasionally turn off the senses in order to better tune into the aliveness that lies beyond them. The realization that there is something beyond the world of the five senses can provide an “aha” experience, especially at first. With the senses turned off (or even turned down), there remains a vibrant sense of aliveness – the world of feeling and the realm of being. [...]

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  7. [...] Being Present through Sensuality The idea is to occasionally turn off the senses in order to better tune into the aliveness that lies beyond them. The realization that there is something beyond the world of the five senses can provide an “aha” experience, especially at first. With the senses turned off (or even turned down), there remains a vibrant sense of aliveness – the world of feeling and the realm of being. [...]

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  8. [...] Being Present through Sensuality The idea is to occasionally turn off the senses in order to better tune into the aliveness that lies beyond them. The realization that there is something beyond the world of the five senses can provide an “aha” experience, especially at first. With the senses turned off (or even turned down), there remains a vibrant sense of aliveness – the world of feeling and the realm of being. [...]

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  9. [...] Being Present through Sensuality The idea is to occasionally turn off the senses in order to better tune into the aliveness that lies beyond them. The realization that there is something beyond the world of the five senses can provide an “aha” experience, especially at first. With the senses turned off (or even turned down), there remains a vibrant sense of aliveness – the world of feeling and the realm of being. [...]

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