Coming to Your Senses
By Caroline Barrow
Imagine a world without any sense – of the physical kind that is... Obvious losses would be your sight and sound, but what if you could also not smell or taste? You may have experienced one of these after a very bad cold or an injury. Yet consider also your other senses: ‘knowing’ the temperature of the outside world, being aware of the things you touch, the differences in textures and quality, the feeling of the things you eat and drink. How your body knows what to do to move, pick things up, stay balanced - some people have conditions where they cannot correctly interpret the position of their body or feel like their limbs are not their own. Even the sensation of pain is of vital importance – without it we would be in great danger of injuring ourselves.
Our senses are vital to our life, they are the way we connect intimately to the outside world. Does it make you wonder how we feel it all? Much of this is provided by the millions and millions of neurons that exist within the body. Neurons vary in size and sensitivity to different chemicals but they all have the same way of functioning: they collect information from one type of input - perhaps the receptors in the skin or the chemical messages or neurotransmitters from other neurons (up to 10 thousand neurons may feed information to any one other neuron), if there is enough ‘stimulating’ input they send an electrical signal from one end of the cell to the other (whether that cell is a metre or a nanometer long) and once the signal has reached the other end it is conveyed to its neighbour/s – another neuron or a muscle for example.
These neurons are incredibly well organized. We are able to keep the information about the position of our left hand separate from the information about the warmth of the water our right hand is in. We are able to combine the information about the loudness, duration and position of a sound into a coherent whole despite the differences in the way each of these is processed. We then add layers of meaning to our sensory input by evoking memories, emotions or behavioural responses.
Yet even the understanding of the neuron and the ways they coordinate their information does not really get us to a full appreciation of the mechanisms of our senses – neuroscience is a long way off. It will probably never truly get there - but it has ascertained some fascinating stuff. We have a workshop that will take a look at what we do know about the phenomena of the brain, how our senses receive information and how this is processed to give us that sense of connection with and understanding of the world around us.
We can’t promise to unravel the meaning of life but we can give you some CPD points and a fun day if you care to join us in Coming to your Senses!
Caroline Barrow is a craniosacral, visceral manipulation and shiatsu practitioner. She is the founder of the College of Body Science which specialises in running a variety of anatomy physiology, pathology and meridian courses for complementary health practitioners. The vision is to make teaching, support and exchange available for practitioners and to enable us all to constantly integrate and broaden our knowledge. See www.collegeofbodyscience.com or call 0845 108 1088 for more information.
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