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Learning To Observe

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At times some slight indication warns of physical danger: something we see, hear, sense, or even smell alerts us. Such early warning may give us time to protect us and those around us.  Though our senses continuously watch over us and protect our welfare, we are usually taking them for granted. Few among us do anything to develop them, although they are our safeguards in time of trouble. Exercises for developing our senses are rarely used by others than some professionals such as wine, tobacco, and food tasters. Developing our senses increases our awareness of the world around us, helps us to enjoy life more and often provides early warnings of potential danger. It is true that, as in other areas, some of us are more gifted than others, and that age, environment, and experiences all have a profound influence on our senses, the interpretation of their messages, and our ability to use them. Nevertheless, a conscious effort on our part to refine and develop them is always beneficial, even though benefits may vary from individual to individual.

There is a difference between sensation (feeling) and perception (message interpretation and understanding). Several people may experience the same sensation from a given cause, but have widely different perceptions from it, varying from individual to individual. Perception is essentially the interpretation of a message we have received from our senses in the light of past experiences. By multiplying these experiences, we increase our powers of perception. A few examples of ways for sharpening our senses are given below.

1. TOUCH. Try to identify coins in your pocket by feeling them. You may increase the complexity of this exercise by trying to identify foreign coins.

2. SIGHT. Read print upside down, a few lines at a time. Look at a person or an object, then close your eyes and try to visualize what you saw in as many details as possible.

3. HEARING. Try to identify the various instruments in an orchestra, the sounds in the woods, and the voices of acquaintances.

4. TASTE. Learn to recognize, with closed eyes, foods and drinks by their taste.

5. SMELL. Try to recognize the perfumes used by different members of your family and acquaintances, foods and drinks by their aroma. You will be surprised at the variety.

You can devise exercises on your own and with some training you will be able to increase your faculties of observation appreciably. You will be surprised to find that you will get more pleasure out of life with sharpened awareness. Sensing danger will come easier and faster, giving you time to avoid or to plan a defense in a threatening situation.

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