You may have noticed that on Mindful Mondays in the Self Care Calendar Challenge, I often refer to at least one of our five senses. That is because being mindful means being aware of what is happening in the moment by using your five senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. I’ve decided to challenge myself to devote one blog post each month for the next few months to one of our five senses. I am starting this month with the sense of touch.
In elementary school we learn about our sense of touch by being blindfolded. Then we are told to reach into a paper bag and using only our sense of touch guess what is in the bag. It’s a fun experiment. I bet if you tried it again as an adult you would get some items right and some items would be more challenging for you. We touch so many things throughout the day not just with our hands but with other parts of our skin as well that we have learned to tune out some of these signals. What could we learn by becoming aware of our sense of touch? How could it benefit us?
Many of us know that babies need our touch in order to thrive, but what is so great about our sense of touch? When we touch someone or an object, we feel connected to that person or object. Depending on what that touch feels like, it signals our brain to react by realizing there is danger or that things are okay. For example if you touch something hot or painful, you react by moving away from that touch. Sometimes our body will react to someone putting a comforting hand on our shoulder or giving us a hug by relaxing and releasing some of our stress. We might also get comfort from other things our skin comes in contact with such as a soft blanket or the warm sun hitting our cheek.
In addition to the emotional connection we get from our sense of touch, we gather information about our environment from our sense of touch. Tuning into our sense of touch allows us to get to know our environment better and to feel more grounded. Feeling the ground as we walk allows us to maintain better balance because we gain a better sense of where the ground is and what it feels like so that our bodies know how to adapt to different surfaces as we walk. By tuning into what part of our face feels the sun and comparing it to the time of day we can figure out which direction is East or West. I encourage you to tune in to your sense of touch and see what you can learn both for information and how you react emotionally to touch. I tried this today while eating some tortilla chips. You know what. Our tongue isn’t just for taste. It can also feel things touching it. My tongue seemed to realize that tortilla chips are crunchy and need to be pushed towards my teeth for further breaking down, but the apple sauce and drink don’t need that and can be pushed straight to the back of my mouth for swallowing!
Ways To Tune Into Your Sense Of Touch
- Take Mindful Moments: Throughout the day pause and tune into what you feel. Do you feel a temperature change like warm water or a cool breeze? Do you feel a hard. soft, smooth, rough, rigid, or flexible object? Does the touch someone is giving you make you feel comforted, sore, relaxed, or connected? What else do you feel?
- Mindful Meditation With Touch: Gather together objects of various textures, weights, and shapes. Lay then on a table or on the floor in front of you. While sitting relaxed with your eyes closed feel the objects in front of you one at a time. Really spend time just touching each object and getting to know it.
- Have A Touch Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of adjectives that describe how things feel. Then see how many of those adjectives you can feel during a time frame. Could be a race to see which family/friend can find objects that feel like those terms or you could try to spend the day being mindful of objects you touch that feel like those adjectives.
- Mystery Object: Have someone blindfold you and then hand you a mystery object to try to guess what it is. There are some interesting U-tube videos of people doing this.
- Change It Up: Experiment with feeling an object with different parts of your skin such as your face, feet, leg, and back instead of with just your hands. Does it feel different with different parts of your skin? Would you be able to guess an object felt by your back or foot with the same accuracy as felt by your hand?
What will you learn from your sense of touch over the next month until I write about the next sense? Would you know what things are well enough to navigate your environment if you lost your sense of sight and had to rely on your sense of touch? Would love to hear about your experiments with touch in the comments.