The Seventh Sense…the ability to see the future!
Our body’s sensory system consist of the ability to interpret touch, smell, taste, see, and hear. How well we interpret these senses indicates the level of maturity we have in each of these areas. Though extremely unique in it’s sensory characteristic, each of these senses hardly ever work independently of the others. For instance, your sense of smell might alert you there is a fire somewhere close by, but your ability to see that the wood is burning in the fireplace informs you that the smell of fire should cause no alarm. We may start with one sense being activated, but use the other senses as well as our experience in life to add context and meaning to interpret that sensation.
Over the last few years, another sensation, body awareness, has been acknowledged in order to help us understand how our bodies work in everyday tasks and functions. Body awareness is an essential sensation that consists of an internal understanding of where our bodies are in space. It is guided not only by our vestibular and cerebellar functions which interprets balance and movement, but also by proprioceptors, the sensory system that is abundant on our skin, our joints, even hair follicles! Our body awareness system is intimately connected to our proprioception system which allows us to relate to objects in our environment and how we respond to them at home, at school, at work or in sports situations.
Like the other senses, body awareness also does not work independently from the other 5 sensory systems. Take for example a basketball game. The athlete, whether they realize it or not, uses their ability to see where they are on the court, as well as using sounds from other players and the crowd to orient their position on the court. At an instance, they may receive the ball and make a shot from that position in micro-seconds time, and shoot for a basket faster than they can process distance, elevation, body position, number of opponents, and so on. Over time, the athlete has developed an awareness system that triggers a reflex, producing a movement that successfully places the basketball inside the hoop more times than not. It’s an elite athlete’s skill to demonstrate this process and make it look so easy.
I did mention a 7th sense, and it’s not sensory system but an ability to summarize all other systems in the context of life scenarios in order to predict the future! I’m serious about this, and I try to help many of my patients understand how important this is to recovery, healing, and function of their body. I’ll give an example.
Knowing how your body responds to movements will help you avoid or pursue certain exercises that can either harm or help your situation. Knowing how to bend and lift properly allows you to predict how much you can tolerate gardening or complete housework. Knowing how your spinal disc is oriented despite the presence of arthritis is essential in knowing if a day at the theme park will require several days of rest and ice for recovery. Even knowing how you respond to lack of sleep and hydration is an important sensibility when it comes to performance!
You see, the seventh sense is a keen understanding of how your body works in the context of day to day function, and advises you as to what to expect in the near future. You may not be right all the time, but to be mostly right in your seventh sense is highly advantageous and helps protect your body from unexpected pain, disability and harm.
Developing your seventh sense requires time, experience, and even guidance from your healthcare advocates in some occasions. So put those sensibilities to work right now…do you see your future?
Dr. Adrian is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Doctor of Chiropractic and educator. He has been in private practice in South Pasadena since 2000.