Spa day for the senses
Our senses are our link to perceive and experience the external world. So, what do we do to keep them fit and functioning?
Have you given a thought to having a spa day for all of our sense organs? Ancient Indian wisdom identifies 10 sense organs or Indriyas. These are again divided into 2 categories. Gyana and Karma.
In simple terms, our five cognitive senses -sense of smell, sense of taste, sense of touch, sense of hearing and sense of sight are called the Gyanendriyas. These 5 sense organs provide us with the stimulation from the external world. They can be called as our windows from the external world.
The other 5 senses are the karmendriyas or action senses. They include the act of walking, grasping or holding, excretion, procreation and speaking.
Many of us regularly visit a Spa or as we Indians call- a beauty parlor. We spend lots of time in beautifying the body from outside but forget to focus on strengthening it from inside.
Long hours of working on the Laptops, Tablets and Cell phones have dulled our senses. Hours of sitting in front of the PC, along with constant calls which involves both speaking and listening and the use of our eyes for staring at the screen have taken a toll on our body. There is an increased amount of stress on our cognitive senses. It is time to take our senses for a relaxed detox session and rejuvenate them.
I don’t mean that you have to venture out to any resort for this, just start the below mentioned practices from the comfort of your own house. As with any practice, it takes time, patience and discipline to reap benefits from these practices.
- One of the best and most widely followed method is to adopt mindful meditative practice. My personal choice involves sitting in a room with all the doors and windows closed. I prefer a dark room and the quiet morning hours for my meditation. The room is usually devoid of any sounds, smells, light and strong breeze. This helps me turn my focus inwards. I feel very refreshed after these meditative sessions.
- A renowned yoga teacher suggests that starting the day by looking at some green trees or greenery is a great way to treat your senses. I have adopted this in my daily routine and find myself admiring the greenery and the calmness of nature at the start of the day. If you find yourself living in a congested location with no natural greenery, start your day by engaging in some relaxing, refreshing, rejuvenating sound like, the flowing stream water, chirping of birds etc. A friend of mine had the sound of a crowing cockrel on her mobile. She said, it made her feel brisk.
- The concept of Mouna vrata or Vow of silence is underrated. If practiced properly, it can reap great benefits. This practice involves not communicating with anyone for the stipulated time. The eyes are also expected to abstain from reading or watching anything. The emphasis is on being non-reactive and observant of all the happenings around you. It takes lot of self-control to play the role of a witness to the happenings around you.
- One of the most beneficial Yoga asanas for focus is Shavasana. The word Shava means- corpse in Sanskrit. This asana is practiced at the end of the session to relax and turn our focus inwards. Under the guidance of a learned teacher, practitioners find themselves relaxed enough but yet not sleepy. Lot of focus is placed on the breath and the sensations that are flowing within the body. All of our sense organs benefit from this practice.
- A day of fasting, if there are no underlying medical issues, would be very helpful. Here again the emphasis is on avoiding temptation. It involves mindful control of all the sense organs. Ekadasi or the 11th day from the new moon or no moon day is considered to be the day of fasting in Jainism and Hinduism. When I first started this practice, it took me lot of willpower and discipline to steer myself from the temptations of goodies that my kids were having.
- Over the years, I realized that if I turned my focus towards my cognitive senses, the action senses became easier to control. Through a session of mindfulness or meditation, I am able to control the sense organs. The one that still remains evasive to me is the mind or Manas or the king of all senses.
These practices have been beneficial to me and many others. The advent of internet has given us some benefits. We can now engage the help of any learned Yogis or teachers to learn mindful practices.
The Bhagavad Gita compares our body to a chariot, the horses as the five senses, the reins in the mouth of the horses as the mind, the charioteer as the intellect, and the passenger seated behind as the soul residing in the body. The senses (horses) desire pleasurable things. The mind (reins) is expected to exercise restraint on the senses (horses).