Over the past 15 months I’ve shared the principles of Sensory Balance from Chapter 5 of my book Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life! 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.
Now that you have greater insight into the importance of feeding all nine of your senses in balanced ways, you are better equipped to notice when any one of them would benefit from recalibration and what form that might take.
While it is possible to gorge or starve any of our senses, because sacrificing food quality while overdoing food quantity is a nearly universal experience, I will use it here to illustrate the spirit of my approach. One of the great benefits of embracing rather than ignoring or denying my habit of using food to fill un-food needs is that I now have an incredibly reliable barometer for when something is out of alignment within me.
My agreement with myself regarding eating is that I pay attention to the quality and quantity of what I am ingesting. If I find myself overeating, even healthy fare, when I know I shouldn’t be physically hungry, my promise is that I respect myself enough to be honest about what’s really going on. I stop and run a quick scan to see if I can determine what may be troubling me or where my life has gotten out of whack. What sense other than taste might I be starving that I’m trying to compensate for by overeating?
I also look for any evidence of the nutritional equivalent of plopping my child in front of the TV to avoid giving her my undivided attention. What strong emotion might I be avoiding by distracting, titillating, and lethargizing myself with excessive poor-quality food?
Whether you are overeating, overworking, or overshopping, the essence of the sensory balance scan is this: I love myself enough to pay attention. I respect myself enough to be honest about what’s really going on. I am curious about whether what I am doing will really help or, in fact, if it will just injure me further. I have compassion for whatever I find, and a commitment to be more supportive. I am grateful for the deeper insights and additional opportunities for growth.
Figure 9 above provides a simple form to guide this process. As with the flow and core energy scans, the sensory balance scan consists of five steps, with each step grounded in caring enough about yourself to do the following:
- Pay attention so that you notice quickly whenever you’ve drifted into a state of sensory imbalance due to starving and/or gorging one or more of your nine senses. Realize that gorging one or more of your senses is likely to indicate starving one or more and vice versa.
- Invest your energy in assessing the root cause of the imbalance, paying special attention to any fear underneath what you are thinking, feeling, saying, and doing.
- Determine what baby steps will strengthen the presence of love in your reality and restore balance to the way you are feeding your senses: quality, quantity, and frequency.
- Hold yourself accountable for following through on your commitment to take action.
- Assess your results and continuously refine and expand your action plan to maximize the presence of love and minimize the presence of fear, thereby restoring harmony and encouraging sensory balance.
Having gotten honest with myself, if the results of the scan indicate there is something significant to explore but I don’t yet feel able to go deeper, I demonstrate respect and compassion by not forcing myself. If I still feel that distracting myself with food is the best I can do with the love and light I have at the time, then I may go ahead and eat five pounds of raw vegetables. But I will have planted the seed and taken an additional step in recognizing unresolved fear inside me, moving myself forward on my personal journey to wholeness.
For more insights into creativity and sensory balance, read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.