Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Feel" better

We all have a unique place in this world. Take a look at "Secret Worlds: The Universe Within" to increase your understanding of both the vastness and connectedness of the universe, and be humbled by your place in it.

Human beings use many different cues to determine our location, and all of our senses can be involved. Consider sitting in a lawn chair on the beach - you feel sand on your toes, taste and smell the salt of the ocean in the air, hear the waves crashing, and see see the sun directly overhead as you squint through your sunglasses and realize it's about lunch time.

All of our sense are very important in helping us determine our place in the world. Here, I focus on our sense of touch and how it can be used to expand an awareness of our surroundings.

Consider the "feelSpace belt", which can help you "develop an unerring sense of direction". It deepens your awareness of your location by constantly alerting you which direction is north. The belt has sensors all around it, and no matter which direction you're facing, the northernmost facing sensor will vibrate against your skin. Test subjects reported a lasting increase in spatial intelligence, because, even after they took the belt off, they were still able to sense which direction was north and had general feeling of always being able to find their way.

Over at the Ririan Project there's an article that talks about how to sharpen your senses. It provides the following examples of ways to keep your sense of touch from dulling:

If you usually barehand it when batting, putting, or serving, go gloved for your practice swings. “Placing material between your skin and what you’re gripping will force the receptors to work harder as they try to feel through the barrier,” says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami school of medicine.

Take the gloves off for the game and you’ll get a boost in sensitivity that will give you greater control.

In the wrong hands, skin can be a blunt instrument. “Without regular stimulation, your skin receptors become less sensitive,” says Dr. Field. Sex is one source of stimulation, especially if body oil enters the equation.

But you can also get a hot-stone massage, go for a swim in bracingly cold water, or use a long-handled bristle brush instead of a wimpy washcloth. Then have more sex.

Speaking of sex, aparently, by playing video games with a lot of action, women can close the gap between the sexes in spatial skills. "On average, women are not quite as good at rapidly switching attention among different objects", say researchers at the University of Toronto. This is a suspected reason for why women (debatably) don't do as well as men on spatial tasks (i.e. reading a map, driving a car, assembling a grill). This study found that after only 10 hours of play, women caught up to men in spatial skills and the change was still present 5 months later.

We can also expand our sense of touch by using it in place of other senses, (i.e. "see with your hands") as with this art exhibition of "tactile photography".

Our sense of touch, like all of our senses is elastic and can be expanded upon more than we know. Never underestimate the power it can hold.

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