"The Multi-sensory Person"
by Michael J. Cohen
may not inherently feel all of nature. We feel only that part which we exercise
or which supports our evolutionary survival in the natural world. For example,
our sense of sight doesn't ordinarily register infra-red or ultraviolet light,
although other creatures do register it. Biologically the creation process may
have evolved us to survive without seeing these ranges. Similarly, cats may
survive seeing only blue and yellow, and many animals are color blind
Each of the 53
natural survival sense groups that pervade nature and us are listed below. They
help us enjoy and improve our lives. We experience them as an essence of our
desire to be alive, as attractive callings that connect nature within us to the
natural environment, to other peoples' inner nature, and to global life
processes. Through our natural senses we more fully know nature within and about
us. The more we awaken, fulfill, and nurture them, the more we sense lasting
fulfillment in the satisfaction, balance, and wisdom of nature's peace.
The list below
contains general categories of senses. Each sense can be further subdivided. For
example, I list color as single sense yet we sense many thousands of colors.
Each different color represents a different sensitivity, each may signal a
different mood or message, each has different intensities that have different
meanings, each may have a different neurophysiology and genetics. For example we
consider taste as one sense, but our ability to taste salt, sweet, bitter, and
sour are each physiologically, chemically, and anatomically unique. There are 22
different ways to experience touch. Each sense has a different genetic blueprint
in us arising from eons of biological experiences and diversifying relationships
within the global life community.
senses are present but unexercised in an infant. Even the sense of reason and
place operate in 2-month old babies. Since we didn't invent natural senses, and
can't know them solely through language, each natural sense mystifies our
thinking. Albert Einstein said: "The most beautiful thing we can experience
is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science."
years of 1961-1978, researcher Guy Murchie made an exhaustive study. He
painstakingly scrutinized scientific studies about the senses as they appeared
in many hundreds of books and periodicals during those 17 years. In 1986 he told
me that scientific methodology and research had actually identified over eighty
different biological senses which pervade the natural world. He said he
additionally verified this through authorities at the Harvard Biological
Laboratories. All these senses he clumped together as 31 groups for literary
convenience in his book The Seven Mysteries Of Life published in 1978. His
painstaking efforts and bibliography deserve our applause and confidence.
Gesell, Pearce, Rivlin, Gravelle, Samuels, Sheppard, Sheldrake, Spelke, LePoncin,
Wynn, and many other researchers has yet to be recognized by industrial
civilization's story. Our intellect thinks that if it has a story about
them, then we are OK. Our addiction to our story mediated, nature separated
lives and thinking keeps natural senses and their value hidden from our
immediate awareness. Our economy fuels itself by keeping our senses
discontented, further irritating them through advertising and then selling us
products that satisfy them.
senses are nature in action. They attract us to the whole of the natural world
and its ways, including the inner nature of other people. As our society trains
our intellect to conquer nature and the natural, we learn to conquer our natural
senses. Our nature-disconnected sense of reason exalts the senses that our
stories use to take over our other senses and the natural world. We subdue and
demean the remaining senses that tell us about how the natural world works and
enable us to participate in the process. Ignored and numbed, our natural sense
are a vast missing part of a responsible story about Earth, ourselves, and
community. Without them registering in consciousness, we become "half
vast." As Carl Jung and others have noted, our abstract thinking is no more
reasonable, logical or consistent than our feelings. While living in the
outdoors, nature has taught me that our abstract thinking is the way we learn to
put our natural senses into culturally reasonable stories. Our challenge is to
recognize that the excessively nature-separated parts of ourselves and our
culture are unreasonable.
need nature's wise ability to maintain life without producing our problems. That
wisdom stops our society's destructive actions against ourselves and the
environment. The absence of it from our consciousness is the mother of our collective
madness: our runaway wars, pollution, dysfunction, disease, mental illness,
apathy, abusiveness and violence. Without nature-centered thinking, our
consciousness abandons our sensory inner child. Anybody can choose to help
reverse this situation by choosing to learn how to reconnect with nature itself,
not abstracted stories or videos about nature.
I offer the
following list of natural senses with this important reminder: each sense is a
distinct attraction energy, an intelligent love that in nature has no name. Each
is aware of itself by its being, not by a name. Each is an experience. Each can
awaken many natural parts of us when we use it to connect with the natural
world. That touchy-feely, hands-on, connecting experience in nature, not this
list, catalyzes personal wisdom, growth, and balance. This list only provides
information in language. It brings it on the consciousness screen and feeds and
guides our senses of reason and language, our story way of knowing. Reason and
language are only 4% of our inherent means to know and love nature, life, and
thinking uses the list of senses in conjunction with visiting natural areas and
exposing our indoor conditioning to the many natural senses awakened in nature.
It uses the names of the senses to help the new brain validate our natural
sensations. Doing this is reasonable, since once we experience a sense, speaking
its name places that sensation in our verbal consciousness. There we can think
with it. This process non-verbally connects, rejuvenates, and educates us. It
allows us to safely extend into the natural world's intelligence in order to
more fully sense our lives and all of life. It works because once we
experience that process of intelligent love and wisdom, we own it. We never
fully return to our former way of knowing.
Senses and Sensitivities:
The Radiation Series
Sense of light and sight, including polarized light.
Sense of seeing without eyes such as heliotropism or the sun sense of plants.
Sense of color.
Sense of moods and identities attached to colors.
Sense of awareness of one's own visibility or invisibility and consequent
Sensitivity to radiation other than visible light including radiowaves, X-rays,
Sense of temperature and temperature change.
Sense of season including ability to insulate, hibernate and estivate.
9. Electromagnetic sense and polarity, which includes the ability to generate current (as in
the nervous system and brain waves) or other energies.
The Feeling Senses
10. Hearing including resonance, vibrations, sonar, and ultrasonic frequencies.
Awareness of pressure, particularly underground, underwater, and to wind and
Sensitivity to gravity.
The sense of excretion for waste elimination and protection from enemies.
Feel, particularly touch on the skin.
Sense of weight and balance.
Space or proximity sense.
Coriolis sense or aware of effects of the rotation of the Earth
Sense of motion. Body movement sensations and sense of mobility.
19. Smell with and beyond the nose.
Taste with and beyond the tongue.
evade a flood.
The Mental Senses
Pain, external and internal.
seascapes, of the positions of the sun, moon and stars.
sometimes to the degree of being absorbed into a
by fungus who farm algae, or birds that leave food to
attract their prey.
every medium from the bees' dance to human literature.
projection and possibly certain animal instincts and
profound sorrow and sacrifice."
from "Reconnecting With Nature," by Michael J. Cohen
Michael Cohen's website offers more information on this process in an article entitled:
Psychology: A readily available antidote to Natural System Dysfunction (NSD):
we come to our senses by learning to trust our human nature sensory
experience and natural systems within and around us.”