“Magic is really only the utilization of the entire spectrum of the senses. Humans have cut themselves off from their senses. Now they see only a tiny portion of the visible spectrum, hear only the loudest of sounds, their sense of smell is shockingly poor and they can only distinguish the sweetest and sourest of tastes.” ― Michael Scott, The Alchemyst
Ayurveda is yoga’s science and medicine. According to Ayurveda you should have 6 tastes at every meal to ensure satisfaction and to completely nourish yourself: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. We tend to get the salty, sweet and sour tastes in regularly. With 6 different tastes, we can tend to get stuck on only one, two or even three or four. McDonald’s has that covered. Salty burgers, sour pickles, and sweet sodas or ice cream.
This is a metaphor for the way we live the rest of our lives as we are conditioned to strive for the sweetest of sweets and the highest of highs. And as we know if we continually eat stimulants or sugar, we have to eventually crash. Striving for the sweetest and highest is not sustainable nor is it all encompassing. And, so the same is true for how we taste life through the faculties of our senses. How we listen to our experience. Or how we let ourselves listen to our experience.
As we know, each day, each week, each month, each year and certainly over the course of our lives, we are given the full range of experiences, feelings, emotions and thoughts. To only see, hear, feel, listen to part of them is to deny part of ourselves and therefore our own wholeness, our own completeness.
How can we give ourselves what we so desperately need? How can we satiate ourselves with our deepest long to simply be with the full spectrum within and without? Even the bitter flavors, the astringent flavors, and the pungent flavors? How can we tune into the different layers of experience, flavors of sensation, textures intertwined to cerate this moment? If we can recognize how the mind is trained to pick up on the loudest, most obvious, most preferred or most feared flavor, then we can begin to expand beyond that.
Middle ground is anything but boring
We have this idea that we are somehow waving the white flag if we aren’t chasing the sweetest, highest fullest, fastest, loudest, _____. That the middle is mediocre. These are not to be confused. The middle ground of finding being in doing, rest in action, finding the fullness and depth of tasting 6 flavors, rather than just sweet, of all of our experiences takes intention, practice, imagination and is anything but boring. It is the thing most of us are actually looking for and that will actually satiate us on all levels of our being.
Meditation is the key
To begin to see beyond the usual sweet, salty and sour flavors meditation is helpful. As you sit there, you can begin to open up to the whole experience, in all its flavors. As we sit, we have sensations in the body that aren’t always comfortable and sweet. Thought patterns that generate feelings inside us that are challenging. And, instead of running from these flavors to the usual tastes we sit, listen and also imagine. To develop as a whole and full human being that we are is to be able to navigate through the full spectrum of tastes and flavors. To relax in the deepest corner of discomfort and to realize this as much of a pot of gold as a waterfall of something sweet.
Breath as our teacher
Our breath can help us experience the fullness, the range and the spectrum within and without us. Our breath can pull us inside and throughout our bodies. We can let it literally drag us into every corner that it floods into. And, as we breathe we simply let ourselves be there tasting everything that is there right now.
An exhale clears a layer of our being so we can see more clearly all the flavors. We can sink deeper into the raw format of what we are feeling, tasting and hearing. What can we hear and not just with our ears? Of the complexity of smell and not only through the faculties of the nostrils? So that this tasting experience becomes a whole body experience. A whole experience. And it’s almost as though we have one sense, one eye that can see in all directions at the same time.
Pranayama is the breath practice. And, saturation of breath in the whole body helps us feel into the fullness of flavors present. Imagine you could feel the distribution of the breath throughout your whole entire body. So much of this begins with imagination. Imagine we can see deeper, imagine we can experience flavors that we never knew existed. And our imagination actually begins to activate and animate higher faculties of observation, awareness and flavor.
You can begin by taking a deep breath in, and a full body exhale and relaxing your whole body as one integrated organ aaaaaahhhhhhh.