This page develops Mindfulness of Breathing and Smelling from Chapter One.

Tasting Yourself

The taste of our own bodies from the inside is a 'constant' in our self-identity, and yet we are out of touch with it.

Our taste of ourselves is part of our basic feeling of being alive, but it's so taken for granted we never even think about it.

Every day, in the modern world we eat such a rich variety of enhanced foods, the taste of our own body is bland by comparison, it's as though there's nothing there to taste.

The taste of our own body has become boring – imagine this condition which we accept as normal: we are bored with the taste of our own bodies!

Historical Perspective
Animals usually only get one sort of food at a time... i'm not asking people to simplify to that extent... but just let the thought hover for a while... start to take a few minutes pause after the first course and taste the effects of a meal inside your body.

Our civilised bodies are confused by the luxurious variety of tastes in the modern world.

After a balanced meal there is a sense of that meal all over your body. However if you eat a desert or cheese after the meal it confuses everything. It gives us a feeling of being full, but there's no clear taste residue.

The Science

Since the 1990s Western specialists mostly agree on five categories to define the different tastes (sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami), but there are many differing opinions.

There's also disagreement about where we taste, some experts say only the tongue can taste, and the roof of the mouth has no taste receptors – so let's forget the science it's the felt-reality which is important and almost totally unresearched.

The felt reality could only be fully researched by Questions For Children.

Food Taste Throughout the Body
There is a sense of taste throughout the entire body. Food and drink overpower our own body taste, but they enable us to quickly realise that we do have a sense of taste throughout the entire body.

This is clear about an hour after eating a balanced meal. Especially clear after curry.

Initially there are different qualities of a meal or drink taste all over the mouth. After a few minutes, follow the flavour down your throat, and into your central body, taste it down in your stomach.

After a balanced meal i can still feel the taste of that meal for several hours all over my body. If science argues that this is a memory or an illusion – then i'd argue that animals would also have such memories and illusions.

It takes around 3 hours for the effects of a meal to disappear.

If you are continually snacking and eating three meals a days you will not have any time to taste your own inner body self taste. Fasting for a day is a valuable experience.

The Subtle Self Taste

To start to get a feeling for self-taste, we need to explore the contrasts between the different taste areas in the mouth.

Use the tip of your tongue, and taste at the back on the soft palate, then up on the roof of the mouth, then at the front behind the teeth, then underneath the tongue. Then taste at the front between the lips and the teeth, up and down and both sides, and then just feel the taste of your lips (if you lick your lips it disturbs the natural taste). Notice the similarities and the contrasts.

The very sensitive tip of your tongue will help to clarify the contrasts, but now, without your tongue, take a minute to sense those tastes directly.

Use the method you know from eating foods. Follow the sense of taste down your throat, down the digestive canal to the stomach. Then spread this subtle new awareness out, stretch it like a new muscle you're developing.

I feel a sense of taste all over my body... i try to taste it, i sometimes imagine a big tongue licking me inside.

Notice that the thighs taste different to the lungs. Bones taste salty, flesh sweeter.

Tasting and Relaxing

I noticed quite quickly that where the skin was tense, there was no sense of taste. Activating the sense of taste relaxes all over the mouth.

Tasting is a very effective way of increasing the sensitivity and therefore relaxing such areas.

There is a very important and flavourful area right at the back of the mouth on both sides between the jaws. I lost touch with it and a large part of the taste in my mouth due to tension after a dental operation. I eliminated the tension by tasting.

This applies also to the body. Areas which are tense have no sense of taste. We can relax our body by tasting it.

The Subtle Depths of Inner Taste
I notice a variety of different tastes in the mouth. I notice three basic qualities, salty, sweet, and fruity tastes vaguely resembling prunes and/or rhubarb (back at the sides, inbetween the jaws). They are all very subtle and faint.

Then i noticed the lips taste almost like strawberries. Since then a sort of nutty flavour appropriately in the head, and something like cooked meat in my rather badly smoked lungs. I claim no scientific objectivity. The only way to approach the truth about how animals actually feel would be to ask innocent children. In the body i notice particularly that bony areas feel salty, compared to fleshy areas being sweet. (I don't find any lemon, peppermint, or fish, tastes inside my body.)

As so often on the subject of inner-body awareness, there are many questions which i would like children to clarify. We need them to teach us. What is the natural approach to body-taste awareness?

I would love parents to ask their four to ten-year-olds year olds : "you know that taste in your mouth, how does it feel in your cheeks, under the tongue, on the roof of your mouth and on your lips? What does it taste like in the different areas, is it sweet or salty or like nuts – and can you taste anything in your neck, or in your body?" – and on 'this picture of the mouth', draw in which colours it tastes like.

Beginners Tasting Game
Food overpowers our inner body tastes, but we feel it equally and all over our bodies. It may be necessary to first confirm that we cna taste all over our bodies.

Try eating raw tumeric (with lots of water because it dehydrates), feel it just under your skin for hours afterwards. Ginger or Curry have a similar effect.

Probably easiest is to eat 5-6 medium cloves of garlic (with tomatoes and oil). ASfter a half hour there is a tingling effect under the skin. What is amazing is that after 2 hours, the tingling sensation is still there, and probably a warmth in central body. If after two hoiurs you then eat sweet chocolate the tingling sesation stops. Try it. This will let your body actually experience what happens with sugars and enzymes.

Chocolate tastes so good in the mouth, but then it seems to go straight to the stomach... it's an interesting central feeling but it doesnt fill the whole body.

Tasting Experiment

If you want a longer more complex experiment, you will need things which taste strong. Something like a ripe lemon, an onion, soy sauce, a small glass of southern comfort or a similar sweet liqueur, a small unsweetened bitter expresso. Then get a cup of tea, water, or whatever is your habitual drink.

Taste just a few drops of strong ripe lemon juice, swirl it around, gargle, feel how in different places it's different strengths. The sensation on the roof of the mouth may be faint, but the taste is clear on the lips, between lips and gums, all around the sides, under the tongue, naturally the tongue itself, and back all the way to the throat.

Then swallow just a little drop, feel it in the throat, and down along inside the spine. Then do you notice how after a minute, a faint sense of this taste spreads into the cheek bones, jaw, the front and sides of your neck – (maybe something like an optical illusion, but that's how it feels).

With the lemon taste still in your mouth, drink a little bitter expresso, swirl it round your mouth, notice the effect, notice the contrasts. And then take a sip of southern comfort and notice the contrasts again. You will recognise that you have a sense of taste all over your mouth, including the roof of your mouth, your throat, neck and digestive canal.

If you're still unsure that the entire mouth can sense taste, put a little soy sauce on a finger, and without touching the tongue, spread it on just one side of the roof of your mouth, (or anywhere else you may feel is numb) notice the contrasts. Also, remember how toothpaste often gives a strong experience of minty freshness all over the mouth.

Please continue with Savouring Scents

Back to Chapter Six : Smelling and Tasting Exercises
Back to THE SENSE OF IT ALL Priority Pages