Qualia, simply put, is the feeling of what it is like to be us at any given time. At every given moment, we have an opportunity to check in with what our personal felt experience of that moment is. And, because we are human beings, we have a vast capacity to observe that experience and receive information about it. The fact that we have the capacity for this perception is one of the things that makes human consciousness so unique.
There’s no way to separate our felt experience of a given moment and the information perceived by the five senses. In this way, we can understand that the qualia of our life is connected to the experience of our physical bodies. The perceptions that our five senses are capable of receiving and converting into information in our brains are ultimately the foundation of our experience of the external world.
When we understand this, we can begin to conceive why it may be important to bring our attention to our sensual experience, to the subtle ways that our external world is perceived by our bodies completely unconsciously. After all, we do not have to make a choice to see the world when we open our eyes. We just do.
By paying close attention to the quality of that experience of sight, to the qualia of it, we are able to cultivate a deeper of understanding of what we are feeling and even why. This can help us make the right choices for ourselves to ensure our own personal health and in turn the world around us.
Qualia is a fascinating concept and term for this kind of felt experience. It’s a very powerful idea, as it reminds us that there is a distinct quality of our experience that is personal, and interior to us. In our society and culture today, taking the time to pay close attention to this aspect of our experience, to our personal qualia, is not always valued. We are meant to be productive, focused on our tasks and accomplishing our goals. Considering our qualia can be viewed as frivolous or unimportant.
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But when we understand that our qualia is the result of the direct perception of the five senses, some of the most complex systems in our body, we can recognize how vital it is that we bring our attention to this part of our experience. By bringing our attention there, we can learn more about how we experience the world. Once we understand how we experience the world, we are then given the opportunity to consider ways that we can augment or shift that experience.
After all, we have all experienced feeling blocked or stuck, like we are not moving forward. We all have periods where we lack motivation or just feel down. Or perhaps anxiety is a condition you are familiar with. These conditions could be understood as times when your qualia, or what it feels like to be you at this time, is dominating your consciousness.
At those times it can become even more clear that we need to bring our attention inwards and attempt to understand what it is that we need to feel better. The more practice we have brought our attention to these interior subtleties, the more likely it is that we can identify what issues we are having and find ways to ameliorate them.
Connecting Qualia and the Five Senses
To understand the connection between what it feels like to be you and your five senses, consider your experience of cleaning up your desk before you get to work. You can probably sense intuitively that when you look at your desk scattered with papers and mess, you don’t feel quite as well as you do when you look at your desk clean and neat.
By changing what is in your visual field, you can change your qualia of the given moment. We know this instinctively as well in the sense that we are attracted to things that we find pleasing and beautiful, and we don’t like to look at things that we don’t find pleasing.
In some ways, though, our visual field is one of the more difficult aspects of our sensory perception for us to manipulate. In order for us to navigate the world, we have to focus on what in front of our face, and in order to get our everyday tasks done, we sometimes have to look at things that don’t bring us lots of joy.
But there are other senses that we can have more control over in our everyday lives. Our sense of taste is a good example of this. We have control for the most part over what we put into our mouths to taste and eat. And then we can even attune ourselves to how the various things we eat affect our bodies. In this way, by paying attention to what it feels like in our bodies when we taste certain foods, we can understand the qualia of any given experience we are having. And with this understanding, we are given space to perhaps make a more informed choice moving forward.
The Five Senses in the Body
Understanding the way the five senses function within the body can shed a lot of light on how they may interact with other systems within your brain and have powerful effects on the qualia of your experience.
The visual system, the olfactory system, the nervous system, the auditory system, and the gustatory system are all deeply complex interconnected regions of the body with a strong connection to our brains. These systems take in information from the outside world and distribute that information into the brain for processing.
A wide variety of conscious and unconscious processes are triggered directly or indirectly by these complex systems. Neuroscience has been able to shed light on these processes in a way that is truly fascinating. We now understand how these things are interconnected within the body and allow us to perceive the world around us.
It is essential that we get to know what our internal reactions to our five senses are in order to understand the qualia of our experience. By connecting to the internal perception of what it is like within our bodies, we can get to know what it is like inside of us.
We can come to understand which of our senses we are most attuned to, and which inputs into our sensory system have the most pronounced effect on our emotional state. By bringing the attention and capacity of our mind to make observations to our interior emotional state, we make it possible for us to choose the correct sensory inputs that will help us experience very high states of wellness.
This means taking into consideration what we are seeing, what we are hearing, what we are smelling, what we are touching and what we are tasting. Even though all of these systems are taking in information throughout our waking life, we don’t always pay attention to how this information is making us feel until we are overwhelmed emotionally. The closer attention you can pay to the qualia of perceptual experience, the easier time you will have to strike a balance within your emotions.
Exploring Your Five Senses
What do you do to explore the energy of your five senses? What are some of your favorite sensory activities? How do you connect to your favorite senses? We love to hear your feedback and experiences. There is still so much to discover and celebrate about qualia and your five senses that can help you gain a deeper understanding of who you are and your experience. MONQ aromatherapy, like the Relieve blend in a refillable personal diffuser, can help you appreciate your senses at all times.
Photo credits: Freebird7977/shutterstock.com, Vic29/shutterstock.com, NejronPhoto/shutterstock.com, DisobeyArt/shutterstock.com