Subtle awareness evokes a soul-aligned joy: knowing your friend or partner well so that mere glance says “All is well, I’ve got your back.”; feeling how symphonic pauses and rhythms can create suspense; allowing aromas and oils to nourish skin and soothe emotion.
Great spiritual masters encourage subtle understanding and experience and for hundreds of years, during daily puja (worship and prayers to make connection with Divine), the five senses are honoured.
This daily worship becomes a multisensory and ever refined experience that typically includes:
- Taste: blessed food (as offering to Divine; and offered at the end of the worship)
- Smell: incense and aromatic oils such as clove, cinnamon, camphor or tulsi. Additionally, oils used for meditation include frankincense, sandalwood, rose and sage.
- Sound: ringing of bells, blowing of conch shell, sacred chants
- Sight: this worship is often lovely, with altar ornately adorned of lighted lamp, flowers and fruit
- Touch: droplets of blessed water are sometimes sprinkled upon head, face, skin; touch of sacred objects is often part of the ritual.
Subtle experience is a medium through which we grow and align with the more powerful and authentic nature of our being.
In the critiquing of worship (and life) strictly through the gross senses, one risks judgment and a rigid interpretation that often fuels a dangerous certainty of world view.
But through more subtle understanding, we begin to see beyond the grasp of that which is apparent and are no longer held rigid by dogma and certainty. We begin to recognise that, through our free will, we can align with the subtler experiences present each day and these experiences are often more fulfilling than rudimentary expression.
Subtle experience can wake us up from our sleep within a heavier gravitational pull; it moves us from that which is apparent and bound to recognition and acknowledgement of greater understanding.
Each day subtle experiences work in our favour and try to wake us up: Do we pay attention? Gazing into the eyes of a child, an animal companion and one you love can offer a profound subtle experience; the aha moments of life are infused with subtly; smells from the kitchen may remind us of a childhood memory of being nurtured; the soaring beauty of song uplifts, lightens and brightens the spirit.
By enlivening our subtle awareness, we begin to see how each day is strung together, moment-by-moment, with opportunities to awaken and live in greater balance and joy.
Practical Ways to Enhance Subtle Experience
By recognising daily opportunities for subtle expression, we move toward a more playful relationship with life and generosity of heart.
- When at checkout, allow a precious moment to connect with the clerk, look the person in the eye and offer warmth of heart in a simple sharing of thank you. Notice their response–and your response.
- Feel the trees and nature: the enthusiasm of a spring day, the glory in summer, nature’s fully accepting dissolution during autumn and its welcomed, nourishing rest in winter.
- Savour taste. Offer the beautiful aromas and sensations of food back to Divine.
- Learn the language of fruits and vegetables. Are the vegetables you purchase alive and sun-kissed, freshly picked and healthy? Or were they chemically infused, picked well early of ripe and then shipped thousands of miles to reach the market? Naturally healthy fruits and vegetables have a luminous resonance that speaks to the subtle senses.
- Allow and welcome touch, hug, kindness. And, when you hug, feel a beautiful power resonating from heart, through your arms and into palms. Touch with this subtle awareness.
- Notice that the seat of subtle listening is within: When in din of crowd, listen to and feel a vast expanse of inner space and, perhaps, even an inner voice of steadfast guidance.
- When at work in challenging situation, calmly witness how the mind vacillates from gross understanding (often vindictive, judgmental and critical) to more refined awareness (equanimous, open to additional ideas and accepting). The mind can take us on a journey from gross self-righteousness to curiosity (a more neutral subtle expression) in seconds flat!
- Enjoy song, art, theatre: Rather than critiquing a performance, immerse yourself within the artistry. Be with the artist.
- No need to do and conquer daily meditation: Let the meditation do you.
Gross and subtle experiences are equally informative: They help us to grow, learn and transform. Most often, we vacillate between the experiences until we awaken to a greater joy and freedom found within the subtle experience. From there, we understand subtle expression is inclusive; it holds the potential for the gross experiences within its greater field.
True spiritual masters recognise that, once we awaken to refined understanding, their job as guide is largely successful and complete. With this goal in mind, a powerful daily spiritual practice often incorporates the subtle senses until we fulfil life’s journey: to awaken from gross limitation, become more refined in understanding until, ultimately, we become the great artistic master of our life.
For guided meditations and additional sharings about subtle awareness, visit Karuna’s YouTube Channel.