Welcome to Week 15 of 2016 and our heightened quality of life through sensory experiences. Our Journey Guide, Frederick “Fritz” Perls, the developer of the existential form of therapy called Gestalt Therapy, helps people integrate the whole of life by reclaiming disowned parts of the self. He believed that only the “now” exists and that anxiety arises in the gap between the now and the later. Some live in the past, others in the future, and there can be significant stress and anxiety in living anywhere else but the present moment. He also believed that neurotic behavior stemmed from the inability to see the obvious of what is right in front of us and so he encouraged others to “lose their minds and come to their senses.” Living a life of sensory awareness makes it more memorable.
Let’s delve deeply into experience then. This involves another excursion outside, followed by a journaling exercise. If you are not able to go outside, position yourself by a window or use your imagination.
Select an activity for you that is healthy, in body, mind, spirit and emotions. It can be gardening, playing basketball, walking, or whatever you choose. Consider what you already like about it and now play along to see how you can heighten it even more.
You want to add layers of sight, sound, smell, taste and texture to it.
For example, imagine that you are going outside on a spring morning for a day of gardening. Maybe the scent of coconut oil in your sunscreen triggers past joyous memories of previous years in your garden. Slipping into your wide-brimmed hat signals that the cold winter is over. Your garden gloves may be new and ready to be broken in as you clear soil to work in unison with Mother Nature to nourish growth.
All this has occurred and you haven’t even begun gardening yet! Perhaps you gather in a tote, all of the things you will need while gardening. Make sure that you protect your skin, with sunscreen, hats and appropriate clothing, your eyes with sunglasses or visors, and that you stay hydrated. We don’t want you wilting in the garden. The visual of the tote may call to you like a friend to come out and play.
Seed packets can feel like tiny invitations to get outside. What other visuals would thrill you? Maybe visit a nursery just to look first, to plan what you’d like to cultivate. In the winter, pour over seed catalogs. Pinterest is certainly a treasure trove for all things enchanting.
Listen to the kinds of birds in your garden. What other sounds do you hear? Is there water dripping onto the seedlings? Do you hear the crunchy leaves as they are raked out of their beds? How about wind chimes or birds splashing in the birdbath?
Smells are abundant in the garden. Plant chocolate mint (which I have in abundance!) It’s easy to find organic varieties. Flowers are fragrant, as are honeysuckle vines.
Taste the fruits of your labor and munch on the organic herbs while transferring them into new soil, or pinching some off the plant for your salads, vegetable dishes or pesto sauces.
Textures let you run the rich soil through your ungloved fingers, feel the soft, fuzzy leaves of lamb’s ear and the prickly edges of a holly berry bush.
Take yourself on this journey of discovery and record it in your journal. A garden journal is a wonderful thing to keep. It can hold clipped magazine photos of gardens, your sketches, wishes and dreams, as well as where and what you have planted and how it fared, along with suggestions for the next season or year’s plantings. It becomes a placeholder for your dreams.
Immerse yourself in sensory experiences and share with us!