Friday, December 10, 2010

Taste in your mouth as a microcosm

When it comes to insights about the different feelings/sensations we experience in the body, the easiest way I found to understand concepts regarding them was to use the taste in the mouth analogy.

The taste in your mouth is kind of like a microcosm of what happens at the global level in terms of sensations in the body. We have so so many different types of taste we experience, there have been words coined for some of them but most of us would just use a limited vocab of around 6-7 words to describe - maybe bitter, salty, sour, astringent, sweet, pungent, and meaty. Wine Testers have got a HUGE range of taste parameters in comparison. Probably 50 times the level of detail we ordinarily use. But still you may probably also notice the fact that the words we use are just an abstraction and do not indicate the real taste. Language itself is an abstraction. We have evolved and intellectuals etc maybe use vocabulary covering very subtle aspects but it is still some abstraction of infinity.

Another aspect to taste is that we usually have a neutral taste in our mouth. This is technically not fully neutral since sometimes the after taste of what we have eaten lingers. This taste is also influenced by our general body health. Thus there is like so much variation in even the term neutral taste. 2 people may claim their taste is neutral but if we chemically analyze it, we might find them to be quite different.

When we eat some really great food(subjective) we get intense pleasure from our taste buds. The reward is felt. It is probably the most direct form of reward and the most fleeting too. We would get bored of the taste if we eat the same thing for many many days.

We are most of the time unaware of this taste sense unless there is some activity there that is particularly interesting. This is so true even in our daily lives wrt sensations. We are mostly involved in our mental worlds and we pay attention only when the pain and pleasure exceed a threshold. Depressed people reduce their consciousness level and live in a more gross plane because they have a lot of stored pain. In other words, they start feeling only when the pain or pleasure is high. We should ideally strive to become maximally sensitive.

We also crave for certain foods the same way in life we crave for certain experiences that make us feel better. We cannot really describe, imagine or recreate this feeling precisely but the impression of the magnitude of reward is stored somewhere.

I could go on and on :). In this way, you could even observe you sense of taste to acquire insights about your overall feelings. They follow similar patterns and its much easier to start of with taste for understanding.

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