Sunday, August 12, 2012

Send Your Senses Soaring!

Allegory of the Five Senses
by Gérard de Lairesse, 1668

Five Minute
Creativity Boost
by Monica Davis
© 2012

What is creativity? By definition it is: “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns...and create [bring into being] meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.”  We humans love to create...and recreate; to bring forth and nurture originality as if it were our precious child; to push the boundaries of “Why?” and ask, “Why not?”

Have you tasted the stroke of midnight? Heard fruit ripening on the vine? Ever held a shooting star in the palm of your hand? Smelled tomorrow? Seen the fragrance of a rose? 

The logical part of our brain says: “Not possible”; “Doesn't exist”; “Can't do it”; “Human senses don't work that way.”. But the creative part of our brain rises to the challenge and attempts the seemingly impossible: “Stroke of midnight? Hmm, rich, decadent, tangy...delicious!”

Five Minutes, Five Senses!

A simple 5-minute exercise may boost your creativity, bring clarity to your thoughts, open your imagination, and yes, aid memory. The exercise is done in 4 steps. Focus your attention on each individual sense (taste, sight, touch, smell, hearing) one at a time, and fully engage in that particular sense before moving on to the next. (Eyes may be open or closed.)

Step 1: Experience familiar sensations.  

  • Taste cold, juicy watermelon
  • Chocolate melting in your mouth
  • Bite into a sour lemon
  • Watch a beautiful sunset
  • See the smiling face of a happy child
  • Watch a bird fly across the sky
  • Pet the soft fur of a kitten
  • Walk barefoot along a sandy beach
  • Make a snowball with your bare hands
  • Inhale the aroma of freshly brewed coffee
  • Smell a pine forest
  • Smell an ocean breeze
  • Listen as a distant train whistle grows louder, then fades away
  • Hear a clock strike five o'clock
  • Hear the sound of raindrops on a tin roof

Step 2
Apply all five senses to a single experience; such as baking bread.

  • Knead the dough with your hands
  • Smell the bread baking in the oven
  • See the golden color of the freshly baked loaf
  • Hear the crunch of the crust as you bite into it
  • Taste the flavors as you savor a slice spread with melting butter

Step 3
: Experience each sense through obscure and unusual combinations. This allows the creative side of the brain to join in, trying to answer a riddle. (Don't get hung up or struggle; just go with whatever comes and move on. With practice, your creative brain will know what to do.) For example:

  • Taste the air inside a bubble
  • Walk along the red stripe of a rainbow
  • Hear wax shine
  • Smell square
  • See an echo in a canyon

Step 4: Mix up your bread baking senses. For example:
  • See the crunch of the crust
  • Smell the ingredients into forming a dough
  • Taste the color of the finished loaf
  • Hear the flavor of melting butter spread on a warm slice
  • Touch the aroma of the baking loaf

A gifted storyteller moves an audience through all senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste to create a truly satisfying and magical experience. Heightening the senses gives the brain more avenues for memory recall; no longer relying solely on rote data filing, but recalling feelings, sensations and associations.

From once upon a time, to happily ever after is just five senses away.

© 2012 Monica Davis
About the author: Monica Davis is an accomplished writer, editor, speaker and creative consultant. She is the author of the soon to be released non-fiction book, “Wisdom of the Toga: Mythic Patterns That Shape Our Lives”. For more information, please visit her website at:

Monica Davis is a guest blogger for Karen Chace and Catch the Storybug blog. All rights to this article belong to Monica. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without her expressed, written  permission. If you would like to be a Guest Blogger contact Karen at for the details.


Eileen DeLorenzo said...

These mental exercises were fun. The auditory ones were easiest for me. The obscure combinations were trickier. I do enjoy listening to my plants drink. But that's more of an observation than mental exercise. I will check out your book. Thanks for sharing.

Regina Ress said...

great meditations! Years ago I was working with Jean Houston...and she had us doing "synesthesia" exercises. I'd forgotten about them. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. Yum Yum!!

Monica Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monica Davis said...

Eileen, Glad you had fun with these. It's interesting that you had an easier time with the auditory sense. You can probably hear your plants tell you when they're thirsty...mine do! Thanks for stopping by!

Monica Davis said...

Regina, Funny how you responded with the sense of taste..."Yum,Yum!". Thanks for sharing!

Martha Reed Johnson said...

Great fun! I love exercises that challenge the brain. Can't wait to try this with my middle school students.

Sharon Elliott-Fox said...

Ummm-- was able "easily" to do at least 2 out of 3 of every exercise. The actual baking of bread was the hardest-- possibly because my every attempt at bread making (like jelly making) has been a disaster -- well I can do bread in my bread maker but jelly continues to elude me. I do love these exercises and look forward to using them frequently.
Sharon Elliott-Fox

Monica Davis said...

Martha, That's wonderful! I usually have groups of adults. I would love to hear about your experience with school-age kids. Here's a tip...If you have them close their eyes and then read off the items, you'll see the physical reaction when a sense engages. For example, the "puckers" when biting a lemon, or shivers and shaking hands with the snowball. Have fun!

Monica Davis said...

Sharon, lol! If baking bread isn't your thing use something else...gardening? From tilling the soil to tasting to harvest? Or, winemaking...that may have interesting results. Enjoy!

Barra the Bard said...


I enjoyed your guest post on Karen's blog very much! Thank you! Yesterday in Andy Offut-Irwin's master storytelling, part of this year's Three Rivers Storytelling Festival, I offered a story about my granny and dad. Because she was blind, I explained how she counted steps (I still do!) and some of her compensational other-sensing tricks for managing her world, such as hearing liquid being poured into a cup or glass. I need to remember more of those.... Thanks again!--Barra the Bard

Barra the Bard said...

Monica, I very much enjoyed reading your guest post on Karen's blog! Thank you! Yesterday, at Andy Offut-Irwin's master class, part of the Three Rivers Storytelling Festival, I offered a tale I'm working on about my granny and dad. Because she was blind, I explained some of her compensatory uses of other senses to make her way in the world, such as counting her steps (I still do!) and hearing liquid being poured into a cup or glass. I need to remember more of these! Thank you again!

Monica Davis said...

Barra, Great photo! Thank you for sharing the story about your granny. Compensating for the lack of one sense is a valuable lesson to pass along. I also learned about the senses at an early age through first hand experience. I was taught Braille, and American Sign Language, but more importantly the concept of "total communication".

Barra the Bard said...


I wish my granny had had access to Braille or Talking Books! She was blind for 40 yrs, from 1916-1956, when she regained part of her sight after cataract surgery. There was a good deal of the imp in her; she delighted in fooling strangers into thinking she was sighted. Helen Keller was her hero, & I've always been glad that we learned the finger-spelling she used; it came in handy when we were lucky enough to have tea with her. I'm thinking of doing a CD themed around Granny & the Scottish & Welsh tales she taught me. No wonder I specialize in them now as a Celtic teller! Glad you liked the photo, my favorite--a great one of my harp!--Barra

Robin Bady said...

Great exercises! They make me move and stir inside, no matter which sense or senses are being utilized. I will use them each day too!