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Dec 4, 2020

The Way I See It Blog Series: Coming to our Senses

Introduction

My name is Marlene Cust. I am a senior citizen, and legally blind due to retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. In my writing, I want to acknowledge both the challenges I face and the positive coping strategies I have developed over time. Blindness is experienced by individuals in unique and various ways. There is no ‘one size fits all!’ Always there is that hope for a cure sometime in the future. In the meantime, for me, hopefulness lies in acting with courage, competence, confidence and decisiveness every day. My blog entries present living with blindness the way I see it.

Coming to Our Senses

I am a strong believer in the importance of mindfulness and sensory awareness. Gone are the days where I lived for long periods of time totally focussed on the demands of my schedule, my to-do list, activities, events, and people in my life. Blindness has brought me to my senses – to taste, touch, sound, and smell. Not having sight has taught me much about the necessity and benefits of slowing down, letting go, and living mindfully in the here-and-now, through a daily practice of sensory awareness. This practice can be as simple as going for a walk, or even sitting in a chair, allowing myself to acknowledge the input of the five senses. I find it helpful to focus on a single sensory input at a time, grasping it, naming it, savouring it, letting it go, and moving on to another, rather than allowing myself to be bombarded by a cacophony of sensations all at once. There are no rules. Sensing is simply a matter of being more fully attentive to what I am actually experiencing in any given moment.

The Sensory Awareness Foundation (sensoryawareness.org) outlines the benefits of such a practice:

You may find that…

  • your ability to focus and pay attention is enhanced.
  • cognitive flexibility increases.
  • you have greater self-insight, curiosity, and patience.
  • you experience more empathy and compassion.
  • you experience wonder and gratitude more often.
  • you are better able to cope with stress and challenging situations.
  • your listening skills improve.
  • you are able to engage in your life with less effort and energy.
  • you have a greater awareness of the interconnection present in all of life.
  • you experience joy and pleasure in simple, every day activities.
  • you become more responsive and less reactive.

I have endeavoured to encapsulate an experience of sensory awareness in free verse:

Let us come to our senses

Beauty is everywhere

See it hear it smell it taste it feel it

Beauty is in

the blue of sky the green of grass the pink of flower the gold of grain

the streak of comet the bright of sun the twinkle of star the shine of moon

the cry of seagull the scream of eagle the chirp of robin the sob of mourning dove

the boom of thunder the crackle of fire the splash of wave the buzz of bee

the fragrance of rose the stink of skunk the whiff of smoke the salt of se

a the sweat of labor the zest of coffee the stench of diesel the breath of dog

the bitter of apple the sweet of wine the tang of orange the spice of clove

the sour of kumquat the savory of nuts the brine of chips the bland of eggs

the burn of flame the sting of wasp the slap of storm the kiss of breeze

the warm of day the cool of night the cold of snow the wet of rain

Beauty is everywhere

See it hear it smell it taste it feel it

Let us come to our senses

Marlene Cust

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