Do we have a sixth sense, or more senses? by Andreas N. Bjørndal

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Most people regard the five senses as absolute and a possible sixth sense as a kind of uncertain ghost. After having looked into the five senses, let us explore if there are more (see bottom for articles about the five senses). If you think about it, you do get sense information from more than the five senses.

A sense is described as a faculty by which stimuli or information from the outside and inside of the body is sensed. You can say you feel, receive and become aware or perceive something through a sense. Next to hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste you also feel equilibrium, temperature, well-being and more.

The sense of proprioception (Proprius [lat.] “ones´s own” and capio “to grasp”) is the ability to perceive the relative position and motion of the body and perhaps the sense most often mentioned next to the famous five.

You could divide the senses in exteroception (outside world perception), interoception (inside or body perception) and the relation of the body with the environment as proprioception. Receptors in the joints, tendons and muscles become integrated in the brain telling us our relative position. We share this with many animals. Examples are when a bug tries to turn itself after falling on its back, knowing up side down; but also plants have been shown to have this sense knowing which direction to grow roots or leaves.

An acrobat or dancer cultivates this sense more than others. It is a question of being aware of yourself and your position and motions as a centre of the circumstances around you.

Rudolf Steiner calls it the sense of movement and regards it as one of the lower or more basic senses, what he calls the physical oriented senses. He calls it a sensation sense as different to feeling and cognitive senses.

Steiner has a remarkable understanding of this sense relation with the recognition of speech or the sense of word or concepts. You must be able to quiet your own speech, or stop nodding the head or moving restlessly to really hear another person. He said the sense of understanding or perceiving the meaning of the other is based on the development of the sense of moving.

Language research has also shown the relation between the ability to handle small details with your fingers and the development of language. The Waldorf Schools are famous for the way they connect the learning with body movement, particularly hand movement in primary school.

Just imagine, for a few seconds, all the movements you can do with the hands to just make people stop talking, keep talking, take a break, speak louder or whisper. It is not difficult to understand that you need to stop your own moving to grasp the words of another. If you have small children, you will often experience this challenge when addressing them and they are full of their own movement. A simple trick you can use is to address them with their complete name and it works even better if they have double names or two family names or if you are close to them, just touch them gently to reduce them in their movement and guide their attention gently to your direction.

To learn to listen to nature, perceiving the way nature moves or changes is a good start; a beginning in understanding its language. The change of different clouds, the changing weather, the flowering or falling of leaves can be seen as expressions. The book of nature is not read by static pictures but by perceiving how nature changes and moves.

The connection between motion and perception can also be understood from the first movies or silent film and from mime. If you are good in perceiving meaning you have been good in moving, if you are good in moving you are probably good in perceiving.

Steiner also shows how the feeling of freedom of the soul is related to this sense. You can just imagine the feeling of learning and mastering to walk, bike, swim or doing acrobatic sports and the feeling it gives. Or how you can express victory or freedom through movement. Just imagine the animals in colder countries when they are released into the fields in spring after being locked inside for months. They jump and run out of the feeling of freedom.

I like to look at the sense of movement and the sense of word or concepts from the perspective of early animal life in the sea. In very early organisms at the bottom of the sea we can see how they either feel safe and free and let the water run through them or how they contract their shell or themselves disappearing into a hole. Contracting or extending, closing off or coming forward. When they come forward they open up to the whole sea with its different sensory inputs telling them about the other animals and conditions in the vast ocean. This is a question of either contracting into a closed place of silence and no motion or extending into the big ocean of all “the others” with all their noise and tastes flowing through the water.

When children tend to get timid or fearful and fall into themselves, they need to be stimulated to come forward, by feeling safe, telling them stories so they stretch out of themselves, give them opportunities to do work and change things in the environment, in the kitchen or garden through moving. That will give them a feeling of mastering and freedom. As they come out they will also open up to perceive what is around them and learn to understand the other.

Read about the other senses here:
The eye a question of perspecive

Justice a matter of nose

Love comes out of the mouth

The sense of touch is the foundation of kindness

Or explore the blog

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About author

This article was written by Andreas Bjørndal

There is a common theme in much that I do: • I love to be an active part of growing awareness, insight, inspiration and spreading a unifying knowledge. • I care for promoting health and development, creating improved harmony and unity within the individual as in their relation with their group. • I search for a unified understanding across seemingly unconnected areas of knowledge including perennial as well as scientific. • I have coined the term "holonistic knowledge" which I share in my blog: • I write, blog, debate and teach around the world • I practice complementary therapies as homeopathy and acupuncture as well as counsel and supervise individuals, partners, couples and families to find the core theme in their lives and how they can resolve and master that. Feel free to contact me for questions or a consultation at my mail: Blog: Facebook:


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