We don’t just have 5 senses – we have 53 of them!

Senses and sensing have been on my mind for a few weeks and a blog has been niggling away at me so here it is. Recently, when I gave a nature talk, one of the participants at the end told me about tree roots having synapses the same way as our brain ganglia do. I’m really thankful for this information. Great to get prompts on other amazing aspects of nature. I decided to do a little research on it.

Stephen Harrod Bruhner popped up on my screen and I followed the links. He has a new book called ‘Plant Intelligence'(1) and he talks in quite a deep way about plants and trees. He says that plants and trees have their brains in the ground. Their ‘neural’ networks spread out in the ground. Humans use grey matter to house all the brain capillaries and ganglia, whereas plants and trees use the soil to house their roots which form their brain. I found it really difficult to change how I thought of plants ans trees and to see their brains in the ground. Over time it has made more sense. What I found really astonishing is when he spoke about plants and trees reading and sensing the environment through an ‘Information Spectrum’ which included the leaves, trunk, roots, temperature, Sun, nutrients, minerals, wind, cells doing photosynthesis etc. The plants and trees are sensing across a huge spectrum of information all at once. That is phenomenal.

That reminded me of another research article which said that humans have 53 senses. I managed to understand 6 but 53….now that was a push! When I read the 53 senses article(2) and I went through the additional senses it made a lot of sense (excuse the pun). For example, a ‘sense of vertigo’, we all have, possibly as a fear of heights in extreme cases, but it is something we can sense nonetheless. A ‘sense of self’, again is another one that I felt was understandable. A sense of self can be hard to sense but it definitely is there (Sometimes when its not there!). So all in all there seemed to be a lot more senses than I would have ever imagined and this came close to what the plants and trees are sensing across the ‘information spectrum’ that Bruhner referred to.

Then I thought, do we as humans actually consciously sense across so many senses? I don’t think so. Anecdotally, I have heard of animals during a tsunami moving to higher ground as they sensed something was happening. Humans didn’t sense this from what I understand.

I feel we do as humans spend a lot of time in our heads using our intellects. I know I do. I think the intellect is valuable but the over-reliance on it, I feel has left us with a limited ‘information spectrum’ on which to get feedback and live our lives in a truly integrated way with our surroundings. I feel that in a totally interrelated world the more senses we are sensing the more we will feel connected with world around us.

More on this to follow and I would love to hear what you feel about this.

1. Stephen Harrod Bruhner book

2. List of 53 senses


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