Through our five senses: touch, taste, hearing, sight and smell, we interact and interpret the world around us. All this information is received through our somatic nervous system and relayed to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) for an appropriate response. This response is controlled by the hypothalamus (about the size of a pearl) which is involved in many functions of the body including:
- Autonomic Function Control (sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system)
- Endocrine Function Control
- Homeostasis (body constantly trying to find/maintain normal levels in water, sodium, blood sugar, O2, CO2, temperature, ph and blood pressure)
- Motor Function Control
- Food and Water Intake Regulation
- Sleep-Wake Cycle Regulation
- Limbic brain (emotions)
If we perceive though our senses, a stimulus to be stressful, the nervous system responds by inducing the sympathetic response called the fight, flight or freeze response. Under these conditions the body switches to high alert. When the nervous system perceives a calming response in the environment, it induces a parasympathetic response, or the relaxation response. In yoga we want to induce the parasympathetic response which allows for recovery, healing and digestion to take place.
Putting this into practice
In this recording, we internalise the experience of the 5 senses, withdrawing to our inner experience with heightened awareness. This focussed practice cultivates awareness and mindfulness, the key ingredients to finding inner quiet, peace and clarity.
But when one lives amidst the world of senses, free from attachment and aversion alike, such a person attains serenity. And from serenity results cessation of all his sufferings. For in a person with a serene mind, wisdom soon becomes firmly set.
The Bhagavad Gita (11.64-5)