Sensory Attention

The crisp air, the cool breeze blowing through the trees and the frosty dew of morning all are signals that autumn has finally settled in. I blinked over the last few weeks and the leaves seemingly turned color overnight. The humidity of late summer quickly shifted to the briskness of October. I always make the mistake during this yearly transition of not taking a coat and was again caught off guard last week. If only I had paid attention a bit more, I could have saved myself some chilly moments.

Paying attention to our senses is the first stage of remembering anything. Our five senses are the first connection and initial input of any memory. In these split seconds, we gather information to make decisions, including what we’ll remember about any given moment. The simple act of paying attention to sensory input helps us in a myriad of ways. Take my chilly day for example…

Lately, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with numerous things and was surprised after a busy few weeks to notice all the leaves had turned. I also sensed it was cooler, yet didn’t notice just how much. Because of this, I didn’t remember to wear a coat the next time I ventured outside. Gone for most of the day, each time I went outside the chilly breeze reminded me of just how cold the weather (and I) were. My sensory memories of that day certainly won’t allow me to forget my coat again.

What have you noticed lately? Is it the smell of burning leaves or the distinct whiff of the furnace kicking in? How about feeling the warmth from the oven or fireplace or the chilly air on a morning walk? Maybe it’s the taste of comforting soups, stews and warm beverages we haven’t had in afew months? Noticing these things gives us a type of placeholder to our days, a touchstone to point us back to this moment in time to help us remember.

All of this is possible simply by paying attention even more closely than we think is necessary. Clearly, I noticed the cooler weather, yet I didn’t allow this knowledge to really impact my decision to grab a coat on my way out the other day. A split second of increased attention is all it would have taken and I would’ve been much warmer.

Let’s lift our eyes, open our ears, take a whiff, savor each bite, and feel every breeze. Let’s truly experience all our senses have to offer! It will create touchstone moments, help us make better decisions and most importantly, allow us to be present in our lives in a more meaningful way. It doesn’t take more than a split second, but the memory value of those moments is truly priceless.

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