Did you know we actually have 7 senses? They include sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch, vestibular, and proprioception. Most people are fairly familiar with the first 5, but things often get a little fuzzy when it comes to our vestibular and proprioceptive sensations and understanding them.
What is our vestibular system? This is the perception of our body in relation to gravity, movement, and balance. It measures how fast or slow our body moves, what direction it moves in, and head position. Without this system we wouldn’t know we were moving up or down in an elevator, whether we were lying down or sitting upright, how fast we were walking or running, or be able to walk along a balance beam.
What is proprioception? This is the sense of knowing the position of your body, as well as the strength and force of your body being applied during movement. It is closely related to the deep pressure senses of our body. It helps us to know exactly where our body parts are in space and how to plan our movements. Without this sensation we would lack the skills to clap our hands together with our eyes closed, high five another person, apply the correct amount of force when writing with a pencil, coloring, or throwing a ball, or navigate through obstacles in our environment.
We need ALL of our senses, working together in order to appropriately and safely engage in our environments. Some senses work closer together than others, such as vision, hearing, and the vestibular system, taste and smell, and touch and proprioception. But without one, all of our senses are affected, so its important to know and understand all 7. Explore them. Try walking backwards or swinging with your eyes closed. Try throwing a ball lightly and with as much force as possible. How does it feel? Did it seem hard or easy for you? Did it make you feel calm or dysregulated? This is how we learn to understand our own senses and bodies better.