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More than 5,000 years ago, ancient yogic seers discovered the mind’s infinite capacity to heal the body. They understood that we are all inextricably woven from the fabric of the natural world and therefore have unlimited access to the intelligence, energy, joy, abundance and health of the universe.
A powerful way to cultivate the mind’s intrinsic healing power is by nourishing the five senses. Just as the body’s tissues are made from the food we eat, our mind is created from the sensory input we take in. By surrounding ourselves with nurturing sensory experiences rather than toxic ones, we will experience greater vitality and well-being.
Every sound has a physiological effect. When we listen to a beautiful piece of music or the sound of waves crashing on a shore, our body produces chemicals that make us feel joyful and support health and wholeness. On the other hand, when we’re subjected to noise pollution, we may become tired, irritable and stressed.
You can experiment with music and sound to create your own acoustic therapy. In general, if you’re feeling sluggish, listening to rock and roll, passionate classical pieces and rap music can invigorate you. For someone who is feeling angry or overheated, nature sounds such as falling rain are calming. Gregorian chants and soothing New Age songs can alleviate anxiety. Since we each have a unique response to different types of music, the key is to tune in to your body and discover which sounds are healing and inspiring for you.
We all need loving physical contact to stay healthy. In fact, as mammals, human beings are born with the need to touch and be touched. Regular massage and therapeutic touch lead to greater immune function, improved circulation and more restful sleep. In addition to receiving professional massage treatments, you can give yourself the gift of a daily self-massage, which also provides numerous healing benefits.
The visual impressions you take in profoundly affect your body, mind and emotions. Watching violence in movies or on television activates the body’s stress response, while viewing beautiful images such as a sunset or your child’s face causes your body to produce soothing, pleasure-enhancing neurochemicals.
Seeking out nourishing sights is as important for your health as nutritious food, so begin to surround yourself with uplifting images rather than toxic ones. When you watch the clouds drift by, look at an amazing painting, or enjoy a brilliant bouquet of flowers, you cultivate your innate capacity for health and balance.
In Ayurveda, food is categorized into six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. If you include the six tastes in a meal, you’ll receive the nutrients you need and you’ll feel completely satisfied and energized. On the other hand, if one or more of the tastes are missing from a meal, you may feel full but unsatisfied and find yourself snacking two hours later.
Olfaction is our most primitive sense, connecting us directly with our memories and feelings. Scientific research shows that smells have the power to soothe, energize and relax. When we smell a substance, we’re actually absorbing some of its molecules, making aromatherapy a form of natural medicine. Here are some specific suggestions for balancing fragrances:
Invigorating: Lemon, Orange, Clove, Cinnamon.
Cooling: Jasmine, Mint, Lime, Rose
Calming: Lavender, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Neroli
You can also use a process known as neuro-associative conditioning to consciously link a healing response to a given smell. Begin by choosing an aroma you especially like and inhale it whenever you’re feeling relaxed, peaceful or happy; your body will begin to associate pleasurable feelings with the smell. Before long, just a faint whiff of the fragrance will trigger a healing response in your physiology.
By making conscious choices about the sensory impressions you ingest, you will invigorate the inner pharmacy of your mind and body and you’ll awaken your natural vitality and enthusiasm.