Our five senses are the gateways to the outside world. They are the primary data source for helping our body and mind to know how to react to the world around us. Therefore, Ayurveda believes they should be maintained if we are not to be fed the sensory equivalent of ‘fake news’. Sharper and clearer senses, it is said, help us derive more presence, clarity and ultimately more pleasure from life.
Kripalu Yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Sarajean Rudman says that when we cleanse and care for our senses on a daily basis, we also reduce stress, boost our immunity, and experience greater overall well-being. All key to thriving when we come under attack from threatening viruses or high-tech living.
Ayurveda categorises the five senses in relation to the five-element principle of all living and non-living things of Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. A combination of the elements forms the three doshas which are connected to each of the five senses, their actions and the parts of the body that allow for those actions.
Space is the medium through which sound travels. One hears sound through the ears and hearing allows for speech. Therefore, the sense of sound is connected to ears, tongue, vocal cords and the mouth.
Air is something you can feel, so is related to touch. The sensory organ is the skin, the organ of action the hand, which allows for holding.
Fire is seen as light, heat and provides colour so it’s connected to the sense of sight. As seeing governs walking, the organ of action is the foot and walking is the sensory action.
Water is needed by the tongue to taste (notice how when you have a dry mouth it’s hard to really taste). The organs for this sense are both the upper tongue (mouth) and the lower tongue (urethra), through which is emitted reproductive fluid and urine, so the sense action is procreation.
Earth is related to smell, which is consumed through the nose, it is said, ‘as the scents of creation’. To balance the intake of consumption the body must also excrete. This is done via the rectum which with the nose are the smell sense organs and excretion is the smell sense action.
WAYS TO CALM AND CARE FOR OVER-STIMULATED SENSES
Ayurveda has a wonderful toolbox of self-care techniques for caring for our main sense organs.
- Eye Care: A Cool Water or Rosewater Spritz – as a seat of Pitta dosha (fire) the eyes have a tendency for inflammation especially if they do a lot of screen time.
- Tongue Care: Scrape Your Tongue – The tongue expresses the waste products of the body. In Ayurveda this is known as ‘ama’ (subtle toxic residue), a white film that accumulates overnight on your tongue.
- Ear Care: Oil Your Ears – Applying a few drops of oil into the ears can lubricate any accumulated wax which could be blocking hearing.
- Nose Care: Neti wash – Use of a Neti pot with body-temperature water and un-caked salt can help clear nasal passages, elevating the sense of smell.
- Skin Care: Ayurvedic Oil Massage – Self-massage, with the best oils to balance your doshic imbalance, is a daily indulgence that reaps rewards.
To find out more about some of these basic Ayurvedic self-care practices, come along to one of my workshops. For how the senses affect your meditation practice read the piece by guest writer Helena, in this issue.
Research – thanks to https://kripalu.org.