Using Our Senses

“Our senses are capacities of our being, capacities that are constantly active within us
and capable of considerable development to make them more active.
It would be of great significance for mankind if we really took our senses as our teachers”
from THE TWELVE SENSES, Albert Soesman

13 SensesWe often speak of there being five senses – and it was one of the bonuses of training at drama school that I spent a whole term of acting classes exploring each of these (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting) in considerable depth – perhaps that is where my interest in the senses as organs of cognition comes from.

We also commonly use the term ‘sixth sense’ to mean something known by intuition or instinct (ie by means beyond the realm of our five senses).


Sense My Description / Interpretation Type
Touch Understanding boundaries between ‘self’ and ‘other’ PHYSICAL SENSES
Life Vitality, growth, well-being, decay
Movement Impulse to change position, direction, shape
Balance Standing, navigating in relation to surroundings
Smell Discernment eg between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ SOUL SENSES
Taste A gateway to what enters the body
Sight Seeing and interpreting images
Temperature ‘Hot’ and ‘cold’ in emotional as well as physical terms
Hearing Internalising sounds from outside SPIRIT SENSES
Language Giving expression to what is within
Thought Interpreting and articulating what is ‘true’
Self / Ego Who one is – individual uniqueness

An understanding of the 12 senses can add new depths to training and facilitation approaches – even if only in the trainer’s awareness of their own and their trainees’ latent capacity. Some of the exercises and techniques I use have undoubtedly evolved out of my interest in cultivating more ’roundedness’ in those I am working with – in which the senses play a very significant part.

Beyond these 12 senses, however, I believe there is a 13th sense. I would describe this as a sense of ‘knowing’ – rather more that the ‘sixth sense’ referred to above and closer to a form of clairvoyance. Anyone who has experienced this sense of knowing will understand what I mean even though it is hard to explain.

The actual word ‘sense’ has a range of meanings. Chambers Dictionary defines the word ‘sense’ as: faculty of receiving sensation; consciousness; inward feeling; mental attitude; understanding; feeling for what is appropriate; soundness of judgement; that which is reasonable … and more.

The use of the word to mean both something that is ‘sensory’ and something that is ‘sensible’ is an interesting one.