Taking a sensory exploration within Nature’s elements, bridges our human world to the natural world.
This bridge, when we choose to cross it with awareness and acceptance, allows a deeper connection to more than we can see. More than we can control and draws a larger aspect that creates wonderment and reciprocity. This essentially creates, cultivates and nurtures humans at a cellular level.
When we stop and connect to all that is, through our senses, we can create shifts in body and mind that support the way we want to live.
The past few weeks I have unpacked how our sense of smell, touch, sight and hearing can create this bridge to the natural world and the plethora of benefits that can be experiences with a little time immersed in the woods, by the oceans and in our green spaces. This week I wrap up the sense series with our taste.
Our sense of taste is a little unappreciated. In our busy world, we often don’t stop to take in the full flavor of what we are consuming. Mindlessly rushing to do the next thing on our list or shoveling food in our mouth as we run out the door to work/ school/ appointment.
Studies show that our taste buds tire quickly. We often only taste the first few mouthfuls before the chemical receptors decline in sensory experience, we mindlessly shut off and our brain is stimulated elsewhere. In addition, we don’t masticate (aka chew) our food properly, resulting in inefficient breakdown and subsequent absorption of nutrients from our food.
Chewing, or masticating our foods releases enzymes that start the chemical breakdown of our foods in our mouth, whilst also sending signals to our gut through the bolus (food ball) that follows the digestive tract to our stomach, signaling that we are eating and soon after the stomach will release chemicals to the brain, via the vagus nerve to indicate that we have reached satiety with sufficient food intake.
Without tuning in and listening to these signals that our bodies send, we overeat, don’t savour the flavor and often eat food that leaves us feeling, well, shit! This pattern of behavior also leads to chronic disease, emotional eating and can create a bad relationship with food. Food is to be enjoyed in all settings, it just takes a mindful approach.
Research shows that taste is acquired. When we mindfully start to taste our food, we discover the full flavor of our foods, we explore likes and dislikes and studies showed this approach to eating, participants quickly learnt that they didn’t like the chemical aftertaste of processed foods or the way in which their bodies reacted. I.e. sluggish or skin break outs.
So how does Nature connect with our taste sense?
Nature cultivates mindfulness.
It invites us to focus on our senses in the present moment. She connects body and mind, creating a balance, awareness and clarity. Nature emotionally, physically and spiritually stabilizes us. She provides all the flavors that we can imagine, all that we need; sweet fruits, earthy vegetables, herbs, spices and rain water. She gave us cycles that produces a range of seasonal foods, each with their power to delivers the nutrients we need at that exact time.
She developed a medicine in our plants, that when ingested cure our ills. The pungent herbs and spices that support immunity and provide a tantalizing dance for our taste buds. The water that creates 60% of the human body that transports our nutrients. All of which can be found in Nature, unadulterated.
The key to unlocking the healing power is in our senses.
Let nature saturate your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. Bring awareness fully to one sense, then another and another. Try the exercise below. Slow down and allow you to tune in to your senses in order to tune out of the never ending thoughts it your head.
EXERCISE – Mindful Chocolate Exercise
Walk into the woods, by the ocean or river, to a place free of human noise. No traffic, phones or excessive chatter.
Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position as not to fidget.
It is best if you shut down your eyes, as when we mute one sense, our others are heightened.
Place a small piece of chocolate in your mouth. Do not chew it. Suck on it. Roll it around your tongue.
What is the taste? Is it bitter? Can you taste the earthiness of the cacao powder? What other ingredients are in it? Can you taste a salt? Or sweetness? Take it all in, all the depths it allows.
What is the texture? Granular? Smooth? Is it thick as it melts to coat your tongue?
Can you notice where the taste is delivered to on your tongue? Is it at the tip, sides or back?
Enjoy the taste, sensation of eating the chocolate. Savour every bite.
Notice how you feel after experiencing the taste of chocolate this way. Joy. Happiness.
Mother Nature has the tools to reverse modern diseases and mental health issues.
Issues we see due to the rise of lifestyle stress and poor diet. We have the resources and knowledge to reverse, reduce and avoid these ills.
Pack a picnic and head into nature. Eat with awareness to every bite.
Nature holds a sacred space to heal, we only need invite her in.