Awaken the Five Senses
Great artists connect us to the world, history and ourselves through profound sensory experiences that transcend the ordinary.
We interact with our environment through the five senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Sensations shape our perceptions and experiences, often without us even being aware of it. We constantly communicate with the world around us, taking in information and making statements of our own. Our senses get dulled and strained if overstimulated, undernourished, or both, as is often the case. But we can awaken the five senses through simple, pleasurable practice.
Think of the way our palate loses acuity if we overindulge in sugary or spicy foods. We often think of the concept of noise in terms of sound pollution, but every sense has its own noise. Similarly, each sense has its own art, its own power of healing, and its own connection to the divine.
Today’s world is bombarded with information. Advertisements and algorithmically calculated news stories compete for our attention every time we look at our phone or drive down the street. Instead of taking in quiet moments to read from a book, we are constantly overstimulated by information we get from our screens. Chemical ingredients in skin care products irritate our senses and deplete our skin, the body’s largest organ.
The solution is to seek out experiences that sharpen our senses and nourish our souls instead of dulling them. We can awaken our taste buds by quietly drinking a cup of tea instead of a Diet Coke. After a day of stress, traffic noise, and pop music, classical music can reset our minds. Great works of art leave us feeling inspired instead of drained. Clothing made of natural fabrics allow the skin to breathe and feel exquisite. By nourishing each of our senses, we discover paths of understanding ourselves and the nature of life.
Some aspects of life, like a beautiful sunset, require no effort or knowledge to appreciate them. We can simply seek them out. Other experiences require craft and a cultivated sense that may even transcend the ordinary. To awaken the five senses is to deepen our perception of the world and discover new layers of joy within our experiences.
In this issue, classical musician Joseph Ma reveals how the muses unexpectedly came to him after a brush with death. Painter and aestheticist Eric Bess reveals secrets of classical composition and the manifestation of divine beauty in artistic works. Chef John Zhang tells us about the relationship between cooking, poetry and painting.
For olfactory experiences, we interview Japanese incense maker Mai Iguchi who guides us into the art of creating heavenly smells as an offering to immortals. We also review the new documentary Nose, which brings us inside the world of Dior’s top perfume creator.
Of course, the sights and sounds of nature offer their own beautiful and therapeutic experiences. We can enjoy the feeling of swimming in water or lounging in linens. Hotelier and founder of Soneva resorts, Sonu Shivdasani talks about his dedication to creating incredible travel experiences. Artist Hillary Waters Fayle answers our questions about making art from the natural environment.
Awaken the five senses and discover deeper meaning in your quest for beauty and pleasure. Quiet your mind to take in the layered experience of appreciating art in all its forms. The world is more beautiful than we realize.