life in the sensorium

There is a wide, yawning black infinity. In every direction, the extension is endless; the sensation of depth is overwhelming. And the darkness is immortal. Where light exists, it is pure, blazing, fierce; but light exists almost nowhere, and the blackness itself is also pure and blazing and fierce.

– Carl Sagan

Life in the sensorium is somewhat like life in a large sea water aquarium. Just as a fish in an aquarium is surrounded by the medium of its existence, so too are we surrounded by our sensorium. Our sensorium is the container of our senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. As you look around at all the sights you can see, it is as if those sights are the sea in which you live. There is also a sea of sound, of tactile, olfactory and gustatory experience. Each of these sensory channels are gateways to worlds of exploration and wonder in which we can only detect a segment. The ‘reality’ we experience is a configuration of sensations which begins as ‘raw data.’ The raw data is ‘analyzed’ and formed into organized perceptions and cognitions which accumulate and become the threads that make us who and what we are in this sensational world.

Although we are cognizant and conscious of our sensory experience, to a degree, we are also quite limited in that our sensors are calibrated for species specific segments of the spectrum of available sensational experience. For example, dogs hear sounds people don’t. Snakes ‘smell’ in ways people don’t. Some animals see things people don’t. And, of course, people see things animals don’t. All animated sentient life is sensitive, and live in very different species defined ‘realities.’ The reality of a butterfly is quite different than the reality of a cat. Human reality is a collective agreement based on species wide sensory experience, organized into perceptual and cognitive frameworks which allow for social collaboration, or competition, or a blend of both.

Even within the significant limitations of our sensory apparatus, what is available to us is rich and diverse. Each sensory channel is itself comprised of many ingredients, like spices in gourmet cuisine, including:














































Every sensory channel is influenced by the intensity of the stimulation. Visual sight is stimulation of a complex array of optic nerves stimulated by the reflection of light off objects. The sound we hear is stimulation of the auditory nerves by air pressure waves of a particular frequency. Taste is stimulation of the ‘taste buds’ on the tongue and in the mouth. Smell is a chemical interaction with receptors in the nasal cavity. The operations of sensation is intricate, refined and complex. We don’t know how we see, or hear, and yet we do. We don’t see sound waves entering our ears and becoming an electro-chemical message system translated into what we hear, and what we understand about what we hear. And, yet, we hear, and understand.

The aggregate collection of sensory experience is the sensorium, and life in the sensorium is like being all wrapped up in various interconnected multi-colored, poly- toned threads forming the tapestry we refer to as ‘self.’ Another analogy to assist in understanding the relationship between sensorium and self is as if viewing a motion picture in a theater. The eyes and ears become absorbed in the visual and auditory story. The ‘real’ life outside the theater is forgotten, ignored, unconscious, missing in action, hidden away. In a similar fashion, the organic intelligence that animates the sensory self becomes absorbed, and lost in, the sensorium. With repeated exposure to sensational theatrics, i.e., life in the sensorium, initial stimulations becomes less stimulating. More intensity is needed to experience today what was registered as stimulating yesterday. The average person of 100 years ago, accustomed as they are to their levels of sensorium stimulation, would today be overwhelmed in what we consider quite normal levels of stimulation. From a neuro-evolutionary perspective, the modern brain is having a difficult time adjusting and adapting to the heightened demands of increased stimulation.

The quelling of sensory stimulation, the calming and soothing of both mind and body, is often a basic pathway towards healing. If you are overwhelmed in the sensorium, consider ways of reducing sensory stimulation for a set period of time, to refresh, rejuvenate, revitalize. Of course, sleep serves this function, but may not be sufficient to compensate for the extensive backlog of over stimulation registered in the ‘storehouse of impressions’ which is, basically, memory: personal memory, muscle memory, cellular memory, genetic memory. Memory is a vast collection of stored sensory impressions, and thoughts about those impressions. There is a life beyond memory, beyond the sensorium, the path towards which is less and less sensory stimulation. No stimulation is a silent still nest, the ground state of experience, the bedrock of ‘self,’ home base, labeled as ‘consciousness’ and described as a ‘flame in a windless place.’

It is consciousness which allows one to be ‘conscious of.’ We are conscious of sensory experience, and we are conscious of cognition, i.e., our thinking about our experience. We can even be conscious of thinking about our thinking. But, both sensation, often referred to as ‘sentience,’ and cognition, thinking, are as the images on the screen of a motion picture. Consciousness, the self-aware wholistic intelligence which animates cognition and sentience, mind and body, becomes, as it were, covered up, with layers of personal experience. Consciousness is to personal experience as the planet’s core is to its crust.

Individual psychelogical volition, ie, willfulness, can distort, disrupt, skew and in many ways alter organic wholistic intelligence away from its intrinsic operations towards more narrow, limited, isolated and fragmented activities, including cognition, which can then filter sensory reception, which becomes ever more commonplace with over stimulation. Learn to relax beneath biological sentience and psychelogical cognizance and bathe in the safe silent still nest of conscious intelligence for the rest of your life.

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