We are sensory beings. According to JWT Worldwide, "73% of Millennials crave experiences that stimulate their senses." A multi-sensory learning experience "with combinations of visual, auditory, and other sensory functions exploits the natural connectivity of the brain. As each sense holds a proprietary memory location within the brain, the effective orchestration of multiple sensory inputs ensures a wider degree of neural stimulation," according to Wolfe (2001).
The world of the senses is an intricate and magical place. It's a realm of wonder that can take you on an exciting journey to explore not just your physical world but also your emotional and psychological landscapes as well. Sensory experiences have the power to create strong, lasting connections and memories because of their ability to stimulate a variety of senses. These experiences vary widely and may involve smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing, and/or ßtouching. They are often temporary yet are capable of leaving indelible marks on both the experience recipient and creator due to the unique intensity and emotion evoked by multiple senses working in tandem. The strength of each sensory experience lies in its capacity to transport us out of our everyday lives and into something extraordinary.
As we immerse ourselves in a sensory experience, the world can open up new paths of sensing knowledge, exploration, curiosity, and joy, allowing us to explore uncharted territories within ourselves and the world around us. Let's explore the possibility of creating your own unique sensory journey to uncover new possibilities and memories you'll never forget!
Sensory experience is defined as a complex interplay of one or more senses: smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing, or touching. Sensory experience is normally limited in time and focuses on the feelings of the sensory experience recipient. Sensory or multisensory experiences involve the experience creator, triggering one or more senses of the experience recipient. Some of the other key senses include:
- The mental senses: pain, external and internal, mental or spiritual distress, sense of self, including friendship, companionship, belonging and power, and psychic capacity.
- The feeling senses: sensitivity to gravity, wind, and motion.
- The chemical senses: hormonal sense, such as pheromones, thirst, hunger for food, water, or air.
- Thermoception - the sense of heat and cold
- Nociception - the perception or feeling of pain
- Interoception – the sense of awareness of what is happening inside your body, e.g., hunger.
- The radiation senses: the sense of colour, sense of moods associated with colour, and sense of temperature.
Learn about 53 senses by Dr. Michael J. Cohen
Sensory experience needs to be carefully planned to ensure it turns out well for the experience recipient. It requires preparation of the scene, tools and materials, preparation of the sensory experience recipient (including washing, fasting, bringing accessories, etc.), preparation of the sensory experience creator, and, above all, a high level of emotional intelligence and care from the experience provider - creator.
Intensify – Engage multiple senses
Invoke – Stimulate the senses to trigger emotions
Embody – Use sensory metaphors
Types of sensory experiences
Ranging from a simple hug to complex play experiences, sensory experiences do not have to be based on a specific emotion—emotions as actually secondary or aftereffects of the sensory experiences. Sensory feelings activate emotions for the recipient by connecting the sensory experience to the recipient's thoughts. More about our play experiences. Some sensory experiences are tactile - learn more about tactile experiences and emotions.
Taste and smell experiences category presents sensory experiences triggering your sense of taste and smell from a variety of perspectives, like blind food tasting, smell guessing game, production and reproduction of tastes and smells, like jam making experience, dinner in the lavender field, and much more.
Some play experiences involve senses of sight and touch, allowing your senses to be awakened and played with (in a way you want). Play experiences are mostly in-person; for example, someone will teach you to kiss, and others offer Florentine flogging experience or keep you restrained for an hour. Flogging can assist in emotional release too.
Long experiences, on the other hand, offer an array of opportunities for sensory development as you get to know each other with the experience creator.
Music experiences interplay with our sense of hearing by triggering our sense of hearing alongside our sense of seeing or touching - can make a dramatic effect. Sensory experiences will focus on the sense of touch.
Our sensory experience creators know how to stimulate-engage multiple senses to create truly memorable experiences.
How can a sensory experience affect emotions?
Since childhood, we have read about the five senses, sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. With time, we learned how to investigate the world around us using these senses. Have you ever thought that these senses do more than identify the world where we live?
In addition to being questions on a kindergarten worksheet, they must also serve other functions. Physically, touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing are distinct channels that provide the brain with different maps of the external environment. Subjective experiences integrate these different inputs into multisensory representations.
The central sensory system has two primary pathways: cognitive and emotional. The cognitive pathway differs in speed and accuracy, while the dynamic pathway aids in rapid and coarse preparation for action. There is also evidence that sensory deficits affect the quality of life, which indicates the importance of stimulation for our well-being.
Among the five senses, sight has been the most extensively studied in the research on emotions. There is little knowledge about how emotions affect the other four senses. However, touch is essential for nonverbal communication in humans and other animals.
Our senses also play a crucial role in processing emotions, learning, and interpreting information. As we experience various emotions, our sensory cortices activate at different levels.
Relationship between sensory experience and emotions
Thomson et al. (2010) called the relationship between sensory experience and feelings a "conceptual association." He further said that we associate different emotional words with distinct sensory qualities. For instance, coffee is related to a sense of energy and a positive feeling. And these associations activate after seeing a cup of coffee or tasting it.
Sensory cortices and emotions affect each other in both directions. Our feelings reinforce our senses and further activate in response to emotional experiences. Imagine if you hear the fire alarm or smell smoke. What will you do? You will probably run or walk safely to your nearest exit. It is because your sensory cues warn you to run.
Our sensory brain areas are associated with emotions too. Emotions and senses are closely intertwined. The things we hear, see, taste, smell, and touch can explain how we feel. In the other direction, our senses profoundly impact how we think.