Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:
• your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
• the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
• the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego
Will, feeling, thought
• The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
• The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
• The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses and they are used in the observation of other people.
Sense of temperature
You use your sense of temperature to observe how hot or cold objects or
your surroundings are. The sense of temperature is made up of distinct
sensory receptors for hot and cold located in the dermis. There are more
receptors for cold than for hot. As with the sense of touch, every part of
your skin senses temperature. There is a difference, however. When
something touches you, you feel which part of your body is touched. The
sense of temperature is observed in relation to your own temperature and to
the body surface area being exposed to coldness or heat. If you put your
finger in a bucket of water, and then into the water that is 3 degrees warmer, you would hardly feel the difference. You would feel some difference if you stuck your hand into the buckets, and if you submerged your entire lower arm you would feel the temperature difference even more strongly.
The larger the surface area perceiving the change in temperature, the more accurately you estimate the difference. Lying naked in a bath, you can perceive deviations of only 0.3 degrees Celsius. When the bathwater has cooled a little, you will perceive it as a large difference.
Warmth and cold enter your body through your skin. By exposing a large area of skin to warmth, more warmth can enter the body and you would feel warmer than if you only exposed a small part of your skin.
Because of your sense of touch, you know that something is situated outside your body. In perceiving the temperature outside your body, however, the cold or warmth penetrates into you. Likewise, we do not feel the temperature as being only of the outside of an object but perceive it as coming from the whole
object, as radiating from the inside.
Your sense of temperature is closely connected to your own temperature. In other words, you do not measure absolute temperatures, but temperatures relative to your own. Put one hand in water at 10 degrees for three minutes, and the other in the water at 40 degrees; then submerge them both at 27 degrees.
For a few minutes, this water will seem cold to one hand and warm to the other. This effect slowly fades until both hands –feel the same temperature.
Temperature affects your mood more strongly than other senses. This is partly because the sense covers your whole body, and for another part because warmth or cold can make your whole body feel comfortable or uncomfortable. The cold chills you, and severe cold can numb or even paralyze you.
Warmth can make you feel enthusiastic, but too much heat can cause apathy. Only moderate temperatures do not affect your mood. You should also take account of warmth and cold for the sake of your social life. If you want to get to
know somebody, radiate warmth. You can then expect warmth in return. But if you feel cold, you will feel rejected. You need to feel the warmth from your fellow human beings, otherwise, you cannot live in a community. There is a reason for such sayings as to be left out in the cold.
Fill three bowls of water at temperatures of 10, 27, and 40 degrees Celsius, respectively. Hold one hand in the 10-degree water for 3 minutes and the other in the 40-degree water. Then put both hands in the middle bowl for some minutes. Describe your observations.
Fill two buckets with water of different temperatures. The difference should be 3 degrees Celsius. Put a finger in one bucket of water for 3 minutes, and then in the other bucket. Repeat this with a hand, and if possible with your lower arm. Keep the temperature of the water constant (use a
thermometer!). Describe your observations.
Measure the surface temperature of an animal, for example, a cow, by placing your hands on various parts of its body (side, legs, head, horns, nose, etc). Which parts are warmer, which parts are colder?
Search your memory for situations in which the atmosphere between people were warm, and situations in which the atmosphere was cool. Discuss these with your group. Can you discover any patterns?
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