Twelve Senses: Not Just Five in the Human Being - Part II August 16 2016

Part II : The Soul Senses

The sense of smell, the sense of taste, sense of vision (sight), and the sense of warmth are the next four senses that are sometimes called the “lower senses,” or the “soul senses.”  These senses are those we concentrate most on in the elementary and middle school grades.

When the physical senses are well developed these soul senses can be nourished without effort in a Waldorf school.  The daily work in rhythm and artistic endeavor provide a strong ongoing opportunity for smell, taste, vision, and warmth to be developed, along with the more intellectual senses of hearing and of thought.

These soul senses relate to the foundational, physical senses. The sense of taste, for example, informs the sense of life. When we are having a bad day, to have a well made soup for lunch, warm and tasty and made with care, everything in us relaxes and feels more wholesome inside as the soup is eaten. We taste the quality and care and feel better, more whole. Refining this sense of taste as the child grows helps the child identify sweet from sour and hot from cold on the tongue. It also aids digestion and cultivates a robust awareness of appetite, which, in turn, supports a child in avoiding eating disorders later in their development.

The sense of vision is intimately connected to the sense of movement and the sense of balance. And a sense of warmth is connected to life forces in the child. Children who go out into the bitter cold with shorts and a T shirt as their only protection against the cold, and who then say, “I don’t need a coat.  I am not cold,” have an underdeveloped sense of warmth both inside and outside of themselves.

These senses inform all the work in a Waldorf elementary program.
  • The sense of smell
  • The sense of taste
  • The sense of sight
  • The sense of warmth

      The daily work in a Waldorf classroom underscores the strengthening of sight in daily handwriting and drawing. Taking time for eating at snack and lunch times allows for the development of authentic and accurate tastebuds and olfactory glands. Refining the sense of warmth in children helps them to understand the “normal” temperature of their own bodies and to comprehend what this means for their own well being when the outside temperature is much beyond what we determine to be ordinary.

      Sensory awareness helps the young person feel aware of herself in the world and aware of the world outside of herself.