Come to Your Senses

The philosopher/entertainer Alan Watts describes experiencing the present moment as a process of “coming to your senses.”

I’ve heard that phrase used before to “snap” people out of whatever delusion they’re in. What are you doing?? Don’t walk near the cliff! Come to your senses!

If we dive in deep to this saying, we realize that it’s a reminder, either from ourselves or from another person, to use our five senses to reconnect with reality.

When I took a course on the fear of flying years ago, one of the strategies they recommend when your mind is spiraling out of control during turbulence is to name one thing you can see, one you can touch, one you can hear, one you can smell, and so on. Just acknowledging these sensory objects brings us back into the present moment and away from the story our brain is telling about the plane falling from the sky.

So meditators will sniff incense, listen to gongs, touch their hands together, and taste tea. I’ve heard of meditation before using sight, too, but it seems easier to me with the other senses.

So the next time you need to come to your senses, you simply find the nearest sensory object and welcome it into your attention. Now you’ve redirected, and you can take another step.