We visited the Chinese Gardens in Portland this week. The opening page of the self-guided tour describes how the garden is designed to engage all of your senses. 

Feel the rock mosaic underfoot. Hear the distant rushing water. Smell the seasonal blossoms.

I’d add in…
- taste the grassy green tea inside the teahouse
- hear the Erhu (Chinese violin) being played (the musician broke into a rendition of Mary had a Little Lamb as soon as we sat down with my 12 mo old daughter = brilliant!) 

What a worthy goal for home design and, more broadly, life in general: to incorporate the five senses.

We’re engaging our senses all the time, of course, both in our homes and in our day-to-day life. We’re surrounded by things to look at. We’re feeling objects and textures. When we eat, we’re tasting. When we shampoo our hair,  we're smelling. We're listening to the voices of our partners and friends.

But really, how often do we fully engage all five senses with any type of consciousness vs. simply taking it all in on auto pilot? And if we're just on auto pilot most of the time, are we taking any type of control over what images we're taking in, what food and drink we're consuming, the textures we're touching, the words and noises we're surrounding ourselves with?

Here's a quick brainstorm on how to to consciously engage the senses. Love to hear your ideas, too, in comments.

Sight – surround yourself with inspiring, visually pleasing art/design/decor
Touch – incorporate fabrics that you wear and in your home that make you feel good, comforted, sexy, etc.
Sound – play inspiring music in your home, in your car, at work
Taste – add spices to your food to add flavor, experiment with different types of tea to tantalize the taste buds
Smell – incorporate essential oils into your daily routine to uplift, energize, calm

And one umbrella recommendation for all of the senses: just pause. Stop what you’re doing, stop the thoughts going through your head – your to do lists, your future tripping and past dwelling and take in wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. Look, feel, hear, taste, smell.

 Hello, world.

 Guthrie exploring the Chinese Gardens

Guthrie exploring the Chinese Gardens

 An oasis in downtown Portland

An oasis in downtown Portland

 Sweet smell of flowers blooming

Sweet smell of flowers blooming

  Inscription reads  Listen to the Fragrance , a message reminding us to look for meanings and use our senses in new ways

Inscription reads Listen to the Fragrance, a message reminding us to look for meanings and use our senses in new ways

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