How to Use All of Your Senses to Capture the Unforgettable

Cycling t shirt screen print

Today I will talk about Zen ways of seeing….

Do you wonder why only one or two images, paintings, poems or musical pieces stand out from the hundreds, perhaps thousands you encounter?  What has this particular photographer, artist, poet or musician been able to capture to make the experience unforgettable?

The answer is that he has seen, heard, felt with his whole body and mind.

The other artists were creating using only one of their senses, their sight – one aspect of our expression alone.  We seem so dependent on seeing that we tend to ignore communication from the other senses.  I wonder what would happen if you were to converge information from all your senses?

For example, when you stand atop a headland looking outwards towards the sea, you see the dazzling colours of the sky, sand, ocean, clouds and foreshore.  You see the shapes of the clouds and the waves; there is so much visual information for you to ponder over.  At the same time, you smell the clean salty air, feel the cool grass beneath your feet, hear the sound of the waves and the wind rustling in the trees.   Your complete experience of the scene is governed by all of these sensory experiences.

You risk missing the heart of what is actually being experienced when you become locked into your sense of sight.  This is true for photography, poetry, painting, composing and whenever you are inspired to create from your worldly experience.

Experiencing this whole body way of seeing on a daily basis will touch the sacred dimension of your life.  To make direct contact with reality in this way is a whole new way of attending and experiencing.

Using all of your senses to create results in unique, fresh, alive and fulfilling work even if you revisit themes used thousands of times before by others. This is liberating, especially when people tell you “everything has been done before” –  not exactly true.


This exercise will take no more than 5 minutes.

Take an item from your household.  It can be a teacup, a small ornament or something not too large.  I did this exercise with a fan shell I found on the beach.

Forget the name of this item and experience its physical presence.  There is no need to judge it as good or bad, attractive or ugly.  Evaluating or analysing this object in any way takes away from the experience.  It is not necessary to name or understand what is being experienced.  Just feel the object, see it, touch it and experience it without your mind moving.

When a thought pushes your mind out of the stillness, acknowledge it, let it go and come back to the object.

By regularly doing this exercise, you will be surprised to notice your attentiveness and awareness will heighten in other areas of your life. Little things you have not noticed before will jump out at you.


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