by Joshua Krause, Ready Nutrition:
One of the biggest drawbacks we suffer from as a species is our lack of focus on our immediate environment utilizing all of our senses. I just recently penned a piece on the importance of “reconnecting” with the olfactory sense. When we were hunter-gatherers and even after human settlements such as towns and villages were established thousands of years ago…our ancestors used all of their senses. All of them.
We can still do it now. It only takes practice. This doesn’t mean that you have to dive down into the prone and sniff a trail out. Although you can! Yes, you can! Your nose has that capability if you train it, as I pointed out in the other article. But take a look at the title for a second. Do you know that precept of maintaining things in balance? You need to train all of your senses, and allow each of them to complement and supplement one another. Let’s discuss it!
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Eyes: You already know how to see things. Now think of components of sight that you may have either been unaware of or not really given much thought to. How about peripheral vision? That is the type of vision where you see things from the corners of your eyes. You have oculomotor muscles that you need to train and condition to see in such a manner. How about in levels of low light? Train your eyes to adjust to the conditions around you. Motion? Our eyes key in motion before anything else. Right behind that comes contrast in color. There are two types of targets: point and area. Point targets involve one individual thing, and area a group of things/multiple items conglomerated in one location. Train your eyes to see these things and differentiate between them.
Ears: Most of us have selective hearing. We hear what we want to hear and “drown out” the background sounds/noise. What we need to do is differentiate between things and allow the range of our hearing to be utilized. Watch a young cat. Their ears are always moving, at the slightest sound. The older cat is different: he hears more selectively and doesn’t lurch or flinch at every car engine or step outside the house. Train yourself to identify as a “matter of fact” and correlate what needs to be reacted to or to be acted upon. The best training you can receive is to go into the woods by yourself, take a seat, stay still, and shut up. You will be amazed by what you will hear, and what you will learn. What you thought was quiet? There’s a great cacophony of sounds…all you need to do is listen to them.
Smell: I covered this in the other article, but in a nutshell, you need to train your nose to do what it can do. Studies show that dogs do not possess olfactory powers much greater than man. The difference is that dogs use their sense of smell, and we have a “mental block” about using it to do anything other than smell perfume on our significant other or smell dinner as we come home. Develop by being aware and using it…compare and contrast, and experiment with different aromas.
Touch: Be able to differentiate between things…light touch and firm touch. Be able to do tasks, such as disassemble your firearm blindfolded or in the dark, group the different parts, reassemble it, and perform a “functions” check. Touch and rote memory are the keys. Feel different plant in the woods, and know what they are by feel. Yes, complement this with smell, when applicable. It takes practice.
Taste: This one you must take greater care than with most of the other senses, as taste can lead to poisoning or a “hurt” tongue if the surface of something (such as a plant) is rough. Be advised: something with botulism or another foodborne illness does not necessarily reveal the presence of microbes by taste! It is the least relied on sense because it is something that does not necessarily decide a choice…it is a sense that usually is affected as the result of a choice.
So, what is all of this good for? It’s good for a lot of different things. You will be able to move through your environment with more and deeper awareness of your surroundings and things in them. You will alert yourself to dangers more readily. It is an art that all of us have the ability to perform. We’re “hard-wired” for it. We just need to reconnect with those abilities. Just takes practice, and practice may not make perfect but it helps to perfect. Use your senses and train not just to use them…but to listen to the information they are conveying to you!