Sensory awareness is the experience of your body and your 5 senses–taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. When we are depressed, anxious, traumatized or intoxicated, our sensory experiences are altered. It is very different than what we experience when sober and healthy. Here are some of the sensory experiences that occur when we aren’t well:

  • In depression we feel as if our sense are dulled. We don’t enjoy the taste or smell of good food as much as we did when we were feeling well, for example. Our interest in sex and loving touch can fade. Even colors we once felt were vibrant and enjoyable seem to lose their appeal.
  • In anxiety our senses can be very acute but unpleasantly so. For example, music once enjoyed can be irritating, or sounds in general can be too loud. Enjoying visual things likes art can lose its appeal. We don’t seem to be able to focus long enough to savor it.
  • In a traumatic reaction our sense can be so heightened that we are very distressed. For example, traumatized people might jump when they hear a sound that doesn’t bother others. A trauma reaction can also cause us to feel dull, numb and lifeless so that we have sensory experiences like someone who is depressed.

Losing Touch with Our Bodies

smelling-bouquet-of-flowers

A significant part of our recovery involves regaining a healthier sensory awareness.

Addicts are very familiar with losing touch with their bodies. That is, after all, a goal of intoxication for many. They want to change how their body feels as quickly and effectively as possible when there is some discomfort. Being at odds with our bodies, or losing touch with how they actually feel, leaves us disoriented and essentially lost in the world. Our bodies serve as anchors. We experience the world through them. We participate in the world through them, too. We use our bodies to communicate, get things accomplished and to tell us what we need, if we’re in danger or if things are good and we can relax.

Getting back to ourselves in sobriety involves reclaiming our lost selves. A huge part of that is reclaiming the body we have been out of touch with for so long. It can feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first. Especially if your active addiction was quite intense of of a longer duration, it may take some time to re-orient yourself physically.

For more on related topics, go here and here.