This is the first in an extended series of posts providing a deep exploration of the liberation to be found in fostering sensory balance.
Like the framing in a home, our outer and inner senses build on our energetic foundation to provide the day-to-day infrastructure for a life of flow securely grounded in constructive core energy. Sensory balance involves feeding all of our senses in healthy, balanced ways so that no one sense takes over trying to fill voids it can never hope to fill. This begins with mindfully feeding our five outer senses, through which we celebrate our world, and it extends to intentionally feeding our four inner senses of creativity, vitality, spirituality, and belonging, through which we imbue our experience with meaning.
Outer Senses—I Celebrate My World
Though the nine senses overlap and interact freely to enrich our experience, for simplicity we’ll explore them one at a time, beginning with the outer senses. What role might balanced feeding of your outer senses play in finding flow and the journey to wholeness?
Using the terms of the Discovery Framework, figure 6 depicts the outer senses as the roof and outer walls of our energetic home. They are an invaluable interface for interaction with the external world. Built on the firm foundation of constructive core energy, when functioning optimally, they are able to transmit and incorporate what will serve the highest good while filtering out what is not beneficial.
SEE: A vast cornucopia of sights—
color, pattern, movement, people, places, objects—expands my possibilities.
Feeding your sense of sight starts by surrounding yourself with colors, patterns, and objects that please your eye. Do you prefer variety or consistency? As an artist, I love every color in every shade imaginable. I use all of them in my art and my environments, but my favorite colors are purple, orange, and green. It’s uncanny how often they end up in my art, in my living space, and on my body without any conscious intention. In fact, even when I try to exclude them in a design, they sneak in no matter what.
Why? When I did some research, I learned that different colors vibrate at different frequencies and resonate to different themes and moods. If you are intrigued by the connections between color, energy, and mood, you will find copious opinions on the Internet and at the library. Figure 7 shows my quick version of how colors align with the chakras, or energetic substations of the body.
Purple, orange, and green represent spirituality, creativity, and love, respectively. In combination, they feed my soul. Pale tints in spring, bright hues in summer, dusty tones in fall, and darker shades in winter, they are always present. They comfort and delight me, providing a feeling of consistency and wholeness. What we love about the colors is not the colors themselves. It’s how we feel when we see them. That is true of all the senses. We don’t enjoy the stimuli; we enjoy how we feel in their presence.
Color affinities can be both indicators and influencers of our moods and intentions. As with most things, I begin by following my intuition and then, if my energy is flat or cloudy, I’ll apply reason and intention. Let’s use my eyeglasses as an example. I have five pair in five different colors. (Two are variations on purple. How unsurprising.) My glasses are often the first “clothing” choice of the day. Sometimes I just reach for a color instinctively and find that my clothing colors align. When I translate my intuitive color choice to the frequencies of the chakras, it’s uncanny how often what I choose fits perfectly with where I need rebalancing or a boost. For example, I instinctively pick my bright blue eyeglasses on a day when I have a lot of writing or public speaking on my agenda. In chakra terms, bright blue resonates to self-expression energy.
Other times, when no strong color is drawing me, I’ll reason out which colors I should include based on where my energy needs realigning or fortifying. Although the process may sound complicated, it actually takes only a few moments.
Changes in color affinities sometimes signal major events and shifts in direction. For example, as I completed my two iPEC coaching certifications, I was less consistently drawn to purple, orange, and green and often attracted to turquoise (self-expression), yellow (self-esteem), and bright pink (identity). I didn’t resist, just relaxed into this new color phase of my life and enjoyed the broader range of experience.
Clothing is your portable environment. While I may be especially attuned to it as a fashion artist, it affects all of us. Clothing is the house we wear on our bodies and carry around all day. Try beginning each day by consciously selecting clothing that supports you in expressing how you want to show up that day.
An individual item may nurture multiple senses. While I’ve started by exploring a single outer sense, you can quickly see how interrelated they are. For example, clothing nurtures our senses of sight and touch.
Let’s expand our perspective beyond feeding ourselves with colors to include feeding ourselves with images and symbols. As you know by now, I love cats and live with three—SiddhaLee, Mortimer, and Maisy Jane. To be more accurate, they let me live in their house, sleep in their king-size bed, eat in their kitchen, and work in their office. We’re crazy about each other. I love the way it feels to be with cats. I foster that feeling by maximizing the opportunities to experience it. I season my environment liberally with images of cats—pictures, quilts, jewelry, and more.
I also love the symbolism of butterflies—patience and hope for the fertile possibilities of life transformation during incubation in a dark void. Their images are sprinkled liberally throughout my life, including serving as my primary life coaching logo. I love dragonflies—symbols of living in the moment, abandoning self-limiting beliefs, seeing the vast potential of the Universe, and the power and poise that come with the mental and emotional maturity of seeing the deeper meaning to life. I adore books too—the power of human thought shared. I love seeing them in my space, reminding me that even when I sit alone writing, I am not alone. I am surrounded by every person who has ever had an idea or experience and felt compelled to share it with someone else for the benefit of reader and author.
In the world of entertainment, pay attention to what you read and watch; the themes and messages affect your energy. Are you feeding yourself a visual diet of optimism and unlimited possibilities (love) or pessimism and scarcity (fear)? I have become very selective about books, movies, and television shows. My test for choosing what I consume is, “Will watching or reading this expand and strengthen my ability to fulfill my purpose or limit and weaken it?”
Don’t get hung up on my colors and choice of symbols; the point is to figure out the colors and images to which you resonate. While there are many books on standard energetic reactions to colors (blue is soothing, yellow is cheerful, red is energizing or irritating, black is depressing or stabilizing, etc.), we are not interested in standard reactions. What matters here is your personal reaction. Experiment and determine what unique mix is most beneficial in helping you live in flow.
Provide a pleasing visual meal in each room. Pay attention to portion control, avoiding the visual version of gluttony by overwhelming your senses with too much stimulation and thereby numbing them. Go for healthy, digestible meals that leave you hungry an hour later for more visual stimulation outside your home and work location. Include regular outings to places that augment your visual diet with special treats: botanical gardens, galleries, the mountains, book stores, pet shops, the ocean, museums, fabric shops, art supply stores—whatever delights you. I have a client who feeds her sense of sight by selecting fresh produce based on including as many colors as possible, which also happens to be very good for you nutritionally. On other grocery shopping escapades, she focuses on what smells good together, demonstrating once again the opportunity to have a single item nurture more than one sense at a time.
I’ve explored the sense of sight in some detail to give you a feel for what’s involved. In the coming posts, I will provide briefer descriptions for each of the remaining outer senses and leave it to you to fill in your personal details.