You are the vehicle that undertakes this voyage. The places to which you are invited will be ever changing. The possibility of pursuing your life experience therefore depends on constantly taking care of yourself. Take a moment with us to examine what fuel nourishes your life.

Listen to Your Senses
Perceive the Universe
By Pascale Vaillancourt

And what if we perceived our planet with our senses? Let’s take a moment to marvel!

Stop for a moment; breathe peacefully, deeply. What do you feel? What emotions rise up in you? What memories emerge? What thoughts cross your mind?

Our relationship with our surroundings reveals itself to us first through our senses. This direct and special contact with life allows us to interact with it through stimuli that activate our senses. Our senses are essential to our survival. And we owe them a lot throughout our development.

Maybe you’ve already wondered what daily life would be like without sight, the presence of a melody, the taste of vanilla, the smell of a rose, or the touch of your child’s or sweetheart’s hands. We relate to the universe through our senses. They have always led and guided us.

“Our language is of no use when it comes to describing the smellable world.”
Patrick Süskind

Our sense of smell is complex and powerful, with the ability to detect thousands of different odors. It is the most developed of our continually functioning senses since it is activated every time we breathe. With each breath our sense of smell sends signals through five million cells to the brain’s olfactory neurons. Perceived in this way, smells are forever lodged in our long term memories, and that is why they help us assimilate more information when combined with the learning process. Our nose is magical: when we smell something familiar, it awakens the associated memories. Doesn’t the smell of earth remind us of tasty carrots from the garden or those comforting potatoes?

Knowledgeable gardeners and farmers know that the smell of earth depends on the season, the weather, and its composition. Just for fun, have you ever taken a whiff of potting soil, sand, or pebbles? This particular odor, commonly called geosmin, is very strong after a heavy rain or storm. Geosmin, a molecule produced by ground bacteria and fungus, smells especially pleasant after a storm, but has a very unpleasant taste in water and wine.

Using our senses gives us a special kind of contact with nature every day. After the next rain, go outside and take the time to titillate your sense of smell!

“Life is tasted through everyday appetites.”

Marc Lévy

The earth nourishes us. Its harvests feed and sustain us. The art of preparing food constantly evolves as our tastes become increasingly refined. We humans have a unique relationship with our sense of taste because it can save our lives. For example the bitterness of a dangerous fruit instantly stifles our desire to eat any more of it. Eating has become a social act that we do joyfully because it is a pleasure that is renewed with every meal. As omnivores we like to taste everything!

Wine is one of the many foods that celebrate this sense. To fully appreciate it, you have to sip it slowly to stay in rhythm with your tastebuds! Our mouths are filled with taste receptors, three quarters of them on the tongue and one quarter on the soft palate and pharynx. Contrary to popular belief, flavor detection doesn’t occur in specific regions of the tongue. Rather all tastebuds can detect the seven basic tastes: bitter, sour, sweet, salty, umami, astringent, and pungent. Umami is the last taste discovered in 1908 by a Japanese scientist. Related to glutamates, it is found in cheese, mushrooms, and some teas. Other taste nuances are perceived through the nose. The sense of smell plays a primary role in our tasting abilities. Go ahead and give in!

“True music is silence and all the notes are only framing this silence.”

Miles Davis

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is a hymn to life in communion with nature. Every time I hear it, I am overwhelmed with respect and admiration. For me the highlight is always the third movement, Summer. It represents tempests, storms, and upheaval of the elements. I am moved by such harmony between the music and what it evokes.

Sounds originate from a transfer of energy because they are a product of movement and are able to spread in all directions as they travel through air molecules. The planet produces a countless number of sounds as it turns on its axis. The sea moves with the tides and produces a regular concert that is always there. The wind blows, knocking into obstacles as it passes, and brings a constant melody to our ears. The environ­mental elements vibrate in us and comfort us with their existence. It’s not an accident that some relaxation music is interspersed with animal and nature sounds. The sounds we hear, whether they originate from music or our environment, kindle impressions and memories within us.

Noises pollute our world, making silence a precious and rare resource. Noise is ever present! Absolute silence therefore doesn’t exist for most hearing people. Without silence, how can we hear? Calmness and the absence of unwanted noise allow our bodies to refocus as we become more peaceful and receptive to the life in us.

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
Khalil Gibran

Isn’t it wonderful to get a hug? The transfer of energy also benefits the giver. Comfort frequently manifests itself through touch, and humans need it to survive.

We enter into communion with the earth in this way. What a pleasure to walk around barefoot in the warm sand and feel the waves splashing over our feet!

What a joy to feel the first snowflakes on our faces! The wind, this great earthly force, constantly caresses us, like a welcome message from the planet that carries us. The benefits of touch can take many forms: sleeping on sun-baked rocks, rolling around in the springtime grass, or taking a dip in a river in the middle of a forest. Touch is one of our most personal and beneficial senses.

Touch can also be fun! Textures become games for us as little children. Our mothers’ clothes are among our first tactile discoveries. Who hasn’t slipped into a fur coat left on the bed during a holiday party? The intertwining of pleasurably soft, heavy, and light scents would lure us into sleep.

The sensations of touch are orchestrated by a complex range of receptors. We can live cut off from our other senses (with some difficulty), but touch deprivation results in major and irreversible psychological problems. So let’s all share a heartfelt hug!

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

No one, aside from a few lucky space explorers, has really seen the earth (in its entirety). The picture we have of it comes from illustrations or satellite or rocket photos. One of the most popular photographs of the earth was taken by the Apollo 17 crew on December 7, 1972. It is entitled The Blue Marble. The astronauts named the picture as such because their perception of the earth at that particular moment reminded them of childhood marbles. And if you look at this photo, you can’t help but be touched by such beauty and grandeur. This blue planet that is our home is a treasure trove of landscapes and locations, each one more stunning than the last. And it is our vision that enables us to admire all these masterpieces.

Our vision allows us to distinguish colors, shapes, textures, movement, distance, and depth. Watching the life that unfolds beneath our eyes and marveling at nature’s riches all around us is especially beneficial. Its beauty and perfection inspire us.

But what is beautiful, and what is ugly? Beauty comes from the pleasure we get from a sensory experience. Painters decode, in their own way, living colors to reproduce a picture of its creation and lead people to see things in a different light. Sculptors take movements and freeze them. They hone the three-dimensional aspect of their art to give audiences different perspectives. Observing, examining, discerning—since the dawn of time, humankind has wanted to see beyond what is. But what if all we wanted to perceive was actually there, right in front of us, and we were simply blind to its existence?

“Our eyes, our ears, our sense of smell, our taste, are all different, and create as many ideas of truth as there are men on the earth.”
Guy de Maupassant

The senses are open doors leading to the life that takes place around us. They tie us to our essence and take part naturally in the universe’s concert by allowing us to feel everything that inhabits it. Let’s allow ourselves to be carried away by them and their symphony! Let’s stop for a moment. Let’s feel with our senses and consciously experience these unique moments that the earth shares with us all.

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