How deeply do you experience life? In her forthcoming book, author Sam Red explores a life led by our senses
The ability to connect more closely with our senses is related to the capacity to be more deeply and consciously aware of the moment. Being in the moment is something that’s recommended as a practice by many authors and spiritual paths – not only by proponents of Tantra.
This awareness of the present is something that differs from the self-absorbed intensity of the ego-centric consciousness. By this I mean that at a certain stage in the development of our human consciousness, we’re highly identified with our personalities and will most likely consider our self to equate with our rational mind. During this stage, we may well experience a distinct sense of separateness and can be easily swayed, or even overwhelmed, by thoughts and emotions that we appear to have little control over.
Awareness of the present moment, as recommended by Tantra and spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle, is a technique that enables us to respond to this human reality. It encourages us to access the stillness and peacefulness that’s an innate part of our being when the rational mind is kept out of the equation. Moreover, it provides us with a means to connect more deeply with our senses so that we can experience situations in heightened and more meaningful ways.
So often, I’ve had the impression that I’m going about my daily business with my head totally in the clouds, wrapped up in the thoughts and chimeras of the monkey, rational mind. I could be walking in the most stunning landscape and yet afterwards I can hardly recall what I saw, heard or felt. It’s as if my sensitivity has been on low or mute for years now. The older I get – or the further from my childhood, the blunter my sensations.
I’m disturbed to find that often external visual or aural stimuli don’t touch me deeply enough to hold my focus for even a few minutes at a time. The rational mind can be overpowering – like a self-proclaimed master dominating a serf. I believe this is largely the outcome of conventional Western-style living, even though my life has been far from mainstream. Still, I’m bombarded by the standards, prejudices and social constructs of my society, which all urge me to be busy, compete in a dog-eat-dog world, show how intellectually clever I am, curtail my instinct and be a ‘good’ wife.
I remember being totally struck one year by a woman I met when
I was on holiday in France. She seemed to be deeply appreciative of each and every thing she was experiencing. At the breakfast table in the gîte, where all guests ate together in the morning, she would extol the virtues of the jam and the bread made by the owner. It was clear she could savour the tastes and smells to an extent that far surpassed the experience of the rest of us.
She also regularly referred to the beauty of the surrounding gardens, making detailed comments about the vegetation that clearly indicated she had noticed, and hugely appreciated, an array of flowers, the garden and its ornaments.
It was captivating to see and hear her. I felt in awe of her, grateful to her. My partner of the time didn’t feel that way at all. He complained that: “She’s so exaggerated!” But, for me, I immediately recognised something unique in that woman – the ability to deeply appreciate the inputs her sensory organs were offering her. The memory of her has remained in my mind for over a decade. At the time I didn’t know about Tantra, although I was on a spiritual path.
Now, I would most certainly identify her as a person who was capable of living her life tantrically. Seeing her ability to connect with her senses, I became profoundly aware of how cut off I was from my own. Well, no more cut off than the majority of people, perhaps. However, seeing her, I knew I didn’t want to be like the majority of people, who were missing out on so many subtle facets of physical-plane existence because they weren’t able to really experience their senses – due perhaps to their imprisonment in ego identification, including ongoing contemplation of what other people were thinking about them in any given moment.
Many people consciously, or unconsciously, aware of the barrenness of their daily non-sense lives seek to find relief by resorting to drugs, sex, adventure sports or gambling. They crave excitement and the chance to feel really alive, perhaps. Yet, the simple act of giving full attention to the stimuli presented to our sensory organs in everyday circumstances can open the existential door to a new outlook or feeling about life and awareness of who we intrinsically are – beyond what’s most obviously apparent.
This article is an extract from the book, Looking for Tantra – living the tantric dream by Sam Red, to be published this autumn.
Find out more at sam-red.com