Exercise 3: Taste
It is easy to understand how developing our hearing, sight and even smell, might enhance our ability to sense, to see, to hear, to communicate with those who are usually beyond our ordinary range, and I'm not just talking about those in the spirit world. I am also referring to our friends, relatives, colleagues, loved ones, and indeed anyone on this earth plane who we might wish to have a better understanding, a better communication with. But somehow, working to improve our sense of taste doesn't seem to fit into the pattern. How could developing the ability to enhance our taste, to increase the sensitivity of our taste buds help us? It seems, surely, merely a self-indulgence?
Well, first, let's be clear. There is nothing wrong with a little self indulgence, in fact, one might view all of the exercises in this book as a program of self-indulgence. Years ago we were taught that it was wrong to want for ourselves. Many religions preached that it was a sin to be discontent, that we should accept our lot, our God given lot in life. To want more was seen to be sin of avarice and greed. Since the whole new age movement began, many who have held themselves up as teachers have taught that the only thing that matters is that we know who we are. That we must step out on a journey of self discovery, find ourselves.
In the first instance, the pendulum, way over to the left, meant that many people were subservient. Those who wanted more lived with feelings of guilt, and often condemned themselves for their discontentment. In the second instance, the pendulum, for many, swung way over to the right. Here was freedom, here was a way to become unsuppressed, to throw off the shackles of guilt and responsibility for others. Some used this new age, new found freedom as an excuse for leaving husbands, wives, children, responsibilities, leaving devastation, pain, hurt, confusion, leaving these things behind. Running blindly forward in an effort to break free, trampling on the feelings of others in the process.
Excessive behavior in any form is unhealthy, and in the long term can only leave us confused. When we were taught not to want, not to question, we were taught by those who wanted to control us, who wanted us to be submissive...to them. Then, when we were taught that it was good to question, right to want, some of us, in an effort to break control, reeked havoc in the lives of those around us. The "new age" fervor became the "new age" fever. The pendulum swung too far.
I am not an advocate of the "new age", but more an advocate of the "old age", the age of wisdom, of knowledge, of ageless, timeless, forever and always, of the beginnings of time, and before time as we know it. I am an advocate of the pendulum steadily ticking in a central place, moving a little to the left, taking in, accepting and learning from the past, moving a little to the right, looking forward to the future and what it might teach us. I believe that it is necessary to question, to want, to be selfish, to gain, but not at someone else's expense. Not if it means deliberately causing pain and hurt to someone else. Not if it means abandoning your responsibilities. It is so important that we learn to appreciate, to savor life, but not ever, ever, if it means ruining, without thought or compassion, the life of another human being.
Savoring life. How do we do that? How do we begin to learn? Strange as this may sound to some of you, if we can learn to appreciate, to delight in, to relish and enjoy the small things in life, then we can begin to understand and appreciate the larger and more complex issues. We are trying to raise our level of sensitivity to a point of discovery. Discovery of ourselves, of all we see around us, and of all that is there that we do not yet see.
One small problem with this next exercise is that it will be hard for those of you on a diet to stay on that diet. Of course, this could be your perfect excuse to eat, to savor, all those goodies you have been so good about not eating. Be self-indulgent. Every day chose some one special something to eat or drink. An especially nice or different something, for example:
You can try something new, or you can stick to the same special treat every day. Your choice, but you may get better results if you do vary.
This exercise also applies to drink, and you may feel that this is a good time to try the many varieties and different kinds of herbal or perfumed teas that are easily available nowadays.
See if you can become aware of your taste buds, not only with those things you have chosen to savor especially, but every time you eat or drink. Explore your taste buds. Explore and delight in your senses.
Ask yourself the same questions as before, and try to write down your answers. As you write, become aware of your feelings, your senses.
How many tastes did you discover. When you were eating and drinking how acute was your sense of taste?
How many feelings were triggered when you were aware of your sense of taste?
In what way, and how aware of yourself does tasting make you?
How many memories were there, and where did they come from?
How often are you aware of your sense of taste?
How often do you sense taste?
How often do you enjoy to taste?
How often is taste distasteful to you?
How often do you taste yourself?
Look back to the previous exercises and remind yourself of all the other questions you could also be asking, and remember the question.
How aware of your own taste are you?
Below is a list of tastes that we like. Some you may have tried and some you may not even have thought of. Try to taste as many things as you can:
Strawberries. Leek soup. Jasmine tea. Mint tea. Hot buttered toast. Fish 'n' chips, a very English dish. Smooth pate. Lemon pie. Hot chocolate. Crusty bread. Trifle with cream. Milkshake.
Of all these tastes that you might learn to become aware of, an all important taste is this: THE TASTE OF LIFE.
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The woman I saw was quite ordinary, as most of us are, and her two daughters were listening intently as I attempted to describe their mother. Truthfully though, as is usual, that description could have fitted a thousand, thousand women. Short, about five feet and two inches, around one hundred and thirty-five pounds, or in my eyes, a little on the plump side, curly gray hair, short and wiry. No distinguishing marks or features that I could see. Even so, the two sisters were nodding, already believing that their mother was here. After all, who else could it be. They had come to me, hoping to form a link with their mother, and here she was. This was enough for them, but it was not enough for me. Not nearly enough for me. We had time, at least an hour, and in that time I hoped, no, I expected, that the woman I saw would speak to me, tell me a little of her life, her daughters, her family, life in the spirit world, and more. I wanted more. So I waited, and I watched, tuning my senses, hoping to miss nothing.
"I am their mother," I heard her say quite clearly. I nodded, waiting patient, knowing that this was just the beginning.
"I was sick for quite some time, my stomach you know. It was ever so painful, and there was nothing anyone could do." Smiling at her encouragingly, I repeated to her girls their mother's words, and as often happens in these circumstances, they began to cry.
Soothing them as best I could, I then turned my attention back to Ada, the mother, and asked, "What was it, cancer, ulcers, what?"
"These," Ada chuckled, and thrust forward what looked like a small, white and somewhat crumpled paper bag. "They were my downfall you know." She whispered conspiratorially, "It's what really finished me. Ate away at my intestines, that's what they did."
Not able to see what was in the bag, I asked Ada what 'they' were. She chuckled again. "Hooked on them, I was, since I was a little girl. Used to buy five pounds a week, sometimes more. They rotted my teeth and they rotted my stomach, but I didn't care. I had to have 'em, just couldn't live without them." And she went on to describe how she always kept a bag by her bedside in case she woke in the night.
"But Ada," I pleaded, "tell me what they are. I have no idea what it is you're talking about."
Ada looked back at me in surprise, "Well," she said, "surely you can smell them. People used to tell me I smelled of them all the time. And the taste of them...ooh, so good."...and it was as she said this that my mouth watered up, my taste buds began to tingle, and the strongest taste filled my mouth. At the same time, I was surrounded by the smell, the unmistakable smell and taste of mint.
Instantly Ada saw recognition dawn on my face, and gleefully now she said, "That's it, that's what you can tell my girls...it was the mints that killed me.... and what do you think of that?"
I can still hear her laughter as I remember her.