Discover Seven New Senses Within Yourself

Freshly ground coffee, our favourite song on the radio or a cosy bath towel – we see, hear, smell, touch and taste. But there are even more senses than these famous five.

Everything that we see and perceive, we experience through our senses. In everyday life, we often take our sensory perceptions for granted, yet it is only through these that we take part in life – with more senses than the five commonly known. The natural scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who founded Weleda, dealt intensively with the human ability of perception. He developed a model of twelve senses, complementing the usual five – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste – with seven further senses. These are our senses of heat, equilibrium, movement, language, thought, life and of the self. The twelve senses were assigned to three groups: the senses of the external world, the senses of the body and the social senses.

Senses of the External World

The sense of sight is the sense we use most frequently when we have to orientate ourselves. We see whether the sun is shining and look for where we’ve left our front door key again. We only notice the qualities of this seeing world if we consciously contemplate it, discovering light, darkness and colours.

Bitter or salty, sweet or sour? With our sense of taste our tongue distinguishes between these four qualities. But our sense of taste is varied and complex, also because flavours mix easily with other sensory qualities, such as smells and our sense of touch on the tongue.

Our reaction to fragrances and other smells is highly individual and emotional. No wonder that our sense of smell is extremely sensitive.

On a cold winter day without gloves, we prefer holding a snow shovel that has a wooden handle, not a metal one. The reason for this is our sense of heat that penetrates our experience of materials and the spaces we inhabit.

"The twelve senses were assigned to three groups: the senses of the external world, the senses of the body and the social senses."

Senses of the Body

We are usually not even conscious of our sense of equilibrium. Only if something is wrong, if we lose our balance or feel dizzy, do we notice how important this sense is for ourselves and our awareness.

We also accept the sense of our movement as a matter of course. With its support, we move our hands, arms and legs without needing to look at them. For instance, we can place our hands together behind our back.

If we become tired or sick, we feel our sense of life. This connects us with our body, enabling us to experience the rhythm of feeling physically fresh in the morning and tired at night.

We express sympathy and tenderness through this sense and experience how touching can have an impact: our sense of touch is always linked to movement. For example, in a dark room we move carefully and if we suddenly bump into something, we sense the boundaries of our body and those of the objects around us.

The Social Senses

Our sense of hearing indicates proximity. When we hear the voice of a person or animal, we feel connected to them. We can watch someone from a distance; when we listen to them, we are already very near.

We can get even closer through our sense of speech, which is significantly different from hearing. Even if we don’t understand or speak a foreign language, we nevertheless recognise when a person is talking.

To understand someone, we listen to them and comprehend their thoughts inside us. With the help of our sense of thought we can grasp the meaning of what we hear, and think of things that were not in our minds before.

From the moment we are born, we turn to other people, perceiving them as fellow human beings. Our unique interest for them comes from our sense of the self.