The sensory development notes published on this website are prepared in collaboration with an on behalf of Developing the Self Developing the World and to accompany the book “Spirit-led Community – healing the impact of technology” by Lisa Romero. The complete document complementary to the book can be opened here.
The sense of warmth is concentrated in the heart of the human being. With warmth we are participating with what is within the object perceived. When we hold ice we come to know that it is cold through and through not only because of the boundaries of our skin but also because we experience the cold within.
For this sense to mature it needs to be held by the adults early in the child’s life. It is not fully developed until around twelve to fourteen years old, which may be much later than most people would expect. When an adult holds the responsibility for the child’s body temperature through awareness of the environment and responding to that with appropriate clothing, the child’s sense of warmth has a strong foundation. For example a child will swim until their lips are blue, as they are unable to discern that they are cold. A baby needs an extra layer of clothing than that of an adult. As the warmth sense develops along with the greater development of the heart and circulation, the child becomes more able to perceive their internal warmth in relation to the external environment. The foundation for the harmonious maturity of the warmth sense is laid in childhood. So that the now teenager, will adequately measure and correct the needs of their body temperature within a changing environment, and will also be able to discern the level of soul warmth in a room.
Hyper sense of warmth
If a person has a hyper sense of warmth, they are oversensitive to changes in the temperature of the environment and can be overcome by heat or cold. They may carry lots of clothes to be able to make themselves comfortable as the temperature changes, or they can avoid places if they think they won’t be able to cope with the temperature. The inability to separate their experience from the temperature of the environment can have the result of not being able to function or regulate their temperature back to homeostasis.
It is useful to look closely at the reason a child might want to change their clothing regularly. Is it because they have a hyper sense of warmth or is it related to the touch sense or the life sense? We will start to notice a connection between the senses and how the development of the first four senses influence the development of the other eight senses.
Hypo sense of warmth
To have a lack of awareness of the way temperature is affecting oneself. Sometimes the person feels hot on the surface, but their internal organs are inadequately warm. They could underdress or overdress unable to determine the appropriate clothing for the environment. They may stay in the water or rain until their lips are blue and they have goose bumps, all the time denying they are cold. Likewise they won’t necessarily recognise when they are overheating.
Interestingly, Australians raised in a beach culture tend to ignore the need to dress adequately because the changes in the environment are not as extreme as in parts of Europe and America. And in addition to that cultural habit, a surfer or competition swimmer may purposely ignore the sense to allow the passion of the sport to continue.
Ignoring the cold and not covering the chest, kidney area, calves and feet make the body work harder than necessary to maintain warmth. This effort takes away from using the forces for growth, thinking and healthy organ function. Cold has a noticeably adverse affect on the reproductive and digestive organs, with studies also showing that treatment for people with eating disorders is enhanced with the application of warmth.
How to harmonise and support the development of the warmth sense
A physically warm home, as well as warm relationships, bring a measure by which to establish individual warmth. Warm relationships can be developed through showing interest in one another.
Very small children always need an extra layer of clothing. Have a house rule that incorporates wearing socks or house shoes, and the body dressed warmly, not compromising on covering the chest, kidney region, calves and feet. Natural fibres let the body breathe, and wool insulates and regulates temperature much more than cotton. Cotton is suitable for warm environments. Use real-life seasonal changes as indications to awaken the young child’s relationship to their inner authority so that it becomes a conversation the adolescent has with the world as opposed to parental authority. Adolescents who have been raised to have a healthy measure of warmth by house rules being adhered to will be more likely to choose clothing that helps regulate and protect their body temperature because they will be able to experience their healthy zone. It can only be learnt by experience, and since teenagers need to have the freedom to think for themselves these foundations occur before twelve years old.
Combating the elements despite rain, hail or shine, dressed in adequate attire that remains dry in cold climates, can strengthen the warmth sense. Try not to make the inside temperature overly cold when the outside temperature is high so that the difference is not extreme. Until the child is about five years old, the caregiver needs to put the layers on and off. Then until they are about twelve to fourteen years old, the caregiver needs to remind them to take the layers on and off and teach them healthy durations for exposure to extreme temperatures.
Treatments include massage with protective lotions and the application of heat. Nutritional baths that leave a layer of protein on the skin and generate warmth from the inside can be used as long as no prescribed or recreational drugs are being taken. A lemon footbath draws the warmth to the feet and distributes it throughout the body. Hot water bottles, rugs around the shoulders and fireplaces on a daily basis through the colder months have a health giving effect on the warmth of the body and soul.