How to bring yourself to your senses

Bringing Ourselves To Our Senses (BOTOS)

A sensory awareness practice

 

BOTOS consists of systematically guiding focused attention through the 5 senses.

By temporarily letting go of thoughts, this practice offers a way to become present and “reset” state of mind.

To make it easy to remember, each sense corresponds with a finger on the hand. We start with the thumb, which represents taste (because babies put their thumbs in their mouths). Next is the index finger, which is for smell (because we touch the nose with this finger to say, “got it.” In some circles, this finger is also famous – or infamous – for picking the nose). The middle finger is often the tallest and stands for what may tend to be the dominant sense, sight. The ring finger represents hearing (“ring” is both a piece of jewelry and the sound of a bell). Finally, the little finger is for touch. (When we’re in the dark, we find walls with this outside edge of the hand).

Give it a try: To get a feel for this sensory awareness practice, move through one of the BOTOS slideshows provided on this website (with dogs or wild animals). Click through at your own pace. Try to resist the temptation to just read the words and/or look at the pictures and move on. The images help guide you and keep you on track – reminding you to bring your attention back should it wander. Remember, the practice is all about actively engaging awareness of the senses.

Benefits are gained through repetition over time. For the best chance at establishing a routine, start simple – a few minutes a day. Regularity is best – ideally at the same time and in the same place. If you find yourself distracted, gently bring yourself back to your senses. Upon return you can start over from the beginning again or continue wherever you left off. As BOTOS practice gains strength, gradually spend more time and seek out deeper subtleties with each sense. It becomes easy to see how thoughts tend to carry our attention away and dominate our awareness. We spend plenty of time thinking about the past and the future; BOTOS brings us to the present moment.

Once you have the basics, you can guide yourself and bring yourself to your senses at any time. Let the fingers offer a road map. One possible goal to strive for could be to practice once in the morning and once at night. Then it will also become accessible as a tool throughout the day –  to help notice and attend to emerging Dragons and/or call and empower Heroes.

Every moment there is a symphony of the senses available to us. Make time to take in these rich gifts that teach us about ourselves and our surroundings.