Sensory Perception

Paying attention to sensory information helps you learn to be fully present. In this practice you simply experience sensory phenomena, you do not analyze or even name what you are experiencing. Naming can set in motion a train of thought that pulls you out of the moment. For example, if Pala, who loves to smell things, sniffs Al’s neck and gets a whiff of his musky cologne, she savors it through her nostrils, enjoying the pleasure she receives from this aroma—a big “mmmm”. She does not sniff it and then think, “Mmmm—Jovan Musk, I love that smell. It smells so good on Al. I wonder if my brother would like it too. I could get him some for Christmas. Maybe I should get it at the duty free store when we go across the border to visit Al’s Dad. When will we be going? I better call him.”

Another example is listening to a bird’s song. You may simply enjoy the lovely lilt of its call. Alternatively, you may hear it and start thinking, “Oh what a lovely sound. That sounds like a morning dove. Isn’t it great that there are morning doves nearby. I wonder if I can make a house for them so they will stay around? What kind of house would I make? Maybe the library has a book on birdhouses.”

Do the following sensory attention meditation three times a day. It is based on Osho’s one-minute meditation.

  • Stop whatever you are doing and become still
  • For one minute pay attention to your senses—sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing
  • Notice what is coming to you through your senses—simply smell the smell, hear the sound and so on, without naming anything.

Enliven Your Senses   

This exercise helps to revive and stimulate senses other than sight. It is akin to Margo Anand’s “Sensory Awakening Ritual” one of many excellent exercises in her comprehensive books on sacred sexuality.

1.  Gather items to help stimulate the senses of sound, touch, smell and taste. Gather at least 9 items for each sense. For example:

  • Sound: chimes, drum, Tibetan singing bowl, whistle, music-box, bell, rattle, metronome, pot lid and wooden spoon, recorded birdsong, stiff fabric that rustles as you crinkle it in your hands, gong, flute, etc.
  • Touch: feathers, silk, fur, warm oil, ice cubes, misting water bottle, powder, pumice stone, wooden massage roller, cotton balls, rough fabric (canvas, twill, homespun wool), leather, fleece, etc. Gather items to pass softly over your lover’s skin, bare arms, neck, face, etc.
  • Smell: essential oils, perfume, men’s cologne, jars of spices, baby powder, fish sauce, coffee, aromatic flowers, etc.
  • Taste: fruits (fresh or dried), chocolate, nuts, hot sauce, raw vegetables, liqueurs, crackers, cheeses, olives, pickles, etc. These you will feed to your lover with your fingers and/or pass some tasty bits from your mouth to hers.
  1. Seat your lover in a comfortable chair and blindfold her.
  2. Help her to relax by breathing slowly and deeply together.
  3. Whisper softly into her ear something like this:  “With your permission I am going to take you on a journey of sensory awakening. As I present you with each new item allow yourself to experience it fully without trying to name or identify it.”
  4. Begin with the sense of sound. Make each sound for approximately 30 seconds. Take a 30 second break between sounds.
  5. Proceed to touch, then smell, and finally taste. Take a 30 second break between each sensory item in your repertoire.
  6. Go very slowly. Allow your partner plenty of time to experience each delightful sense. Be playful, loving and respectful.
  7. Do this for each other on different days. If you want to take turns on the same day, use different items for each sense. This is also a marvelous exercise at a party.