Healing can take many forms–and it often comes in subtle, surprising ways that we come to cherish and return to regularly. In my own case, I’ve started to look forward to the moment when bedtime rolls around, and I turn down the lights to help my toddler fall asleep. I’ll also put on some quiet “night night music,” which usually involves singing bowls, soft vocals, and other soothing sounds (lately, I’ve been playing the artist Ashana…*so* lovely). Even after my kiddo is asleep, I’ll continue to play the music for my own benefit. It’s a lovely time for me to reflect or allow my mind to wander. And this genre of music has become my antidote to stressful thoughts and worldly concerns. In other words, it’s like a little dose of therapy.
As it turns out, listening to beautiful music is a form of something called Sense Therapy, a wellness practice we can perform for ourselves or practice with others or in the context of traditional therapy sessions. Sense therapy basically involves using your senses to experience something calming, beautiful, or otherwise pleasant that helps us get centered and take a moment for mindfulness. “What we taste, smell, hear, see and touch has a profound and life-changing effect on how we view our life. It can promote harmony and happiness or bring us to a state of imbalance and disease,” Ayurvedic Health Educator Carlisle Amlak explains.
Mandy Moore credits sense therapy with helping her recenter herself after a long day on set. “It is really helpful for me. One of the first things I do when I get home is light a candle,” she mentioned. (I knew candles were more than pretty decor!)
Like Moore, we can give ourselves beautiful moments throughout the day can—and these moments can turn into a healthy habit. The great part is, we don’t have to go too far out of our way to experience sense therapy. Objects for sense therapy exist all around us! Here are just a few examples.
- Touch: healing touch is an incredible way to engage your sense of touch. Petting a furry friend, sharing a massage with your S.O., or practicing self-massage can help you connect with touch.
- Hearing: sharing kind words, talking to a loved one, listening to beautiful music or sounds, or even sitting outside and listening to the sounds of nature engage your hearing.
- Taste: savor your favorite foods, eat slowly, and pay attention to the beautiful flavors of your food.
- Sight: focus on one beautiful thing at a time. Art, photography, elements of nature, cherished objects…
- Smell: turn to aromatherapy, fresh flora, spices, and fresh air.
Consider these things small—but powerful!—things accessible building blocks for a more mindful day: “Tuning into sensory impressions is the most basic building block to holistic healing. With students and clients, I often encourage to look at one sense at a time and make a day of observation. Watch the subtle shifts that occur and then the greatness of the change in experience when we start to work with our senses for balance instead of letting life’s experiences quietly pass you by,” Amlak shares.
Sense therapy can be especially wonderful on days when we’re overly plugged-in to our devices/screens/offices, etc. and our senses of touch, taste, hearing, and sound are underutilized. Just taking a break to step outside and find one sensory thing to focus on can help us recharge. Go try it!
What parts of your life serve as healing sense therapy?
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Photo: avery klein on Unsplash, Mandy Moore via Instagram
This article was first published on July 22, 2019.