The sensory development notes published on this website are prepared in collaboration with and 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 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
The person who is hyper sensitive to warmth experience the subtle changes in the environment and can find it uncomfortable and difficult to maintain their own body temperature. They may carry lots of clothes in order to be able to make themselves comfortable as the outside temperature changes, or they may avoid places if they think they won’t be able to cope with the temperature.
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? A connection can be noticed between the senses and the way the first four senses have a relationship to the the development of the other eight senses.
Hypo sense of warmth
To be hypo sensitive to warmth is to lack awareness of the effect the environment has on one’s own body temperature. They may under-dress or over-dress, unaware of the appropriate clothing for the environment. When a hypo sensitive young child’s lips are blue and they are shivering, they may still deny 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.
This sense does not fully develop until adolescence, therefore children require a measure to learn to build a relationship to their warmth and how the outer temperature affects them. Basics include expectations of wearing socks or house shoes, and the body dressed warmly, not compromising on covering the chest, kidney region, calves and feet. Caregivers need to oversee the child’s clothing and bedding to maintain a healthy body temperature in changing environments. Very small children always need an extra layer of clothing. Until the child is about five years old, the caregiver needs to support the child to dress appropriately by doing it with them. 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.
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.
Natural fibres let the body breathe, and wool insulates and regulates temperature much more than cotton. Cotton is suitable for warm environments. Using real-life seasonal changes as indications awaken an individual relationship to an inner authority about what to wear, so that it becomes a conversation with nature as opposed to parental authority. Adolescents who have been raised to have a healthy measure of warmth by being expected to warmly dress at home, 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. These teenagers may try under or over-dressing outside of the home but they experience the disharmony and more easily return to what is health-giving.
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. Alternate footbaths provide a stimulating experience by moving the feet between hot and cold buckets of water. 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. Eurythmy can be prescribed to circulate warmth the may be trapped in the centre or periphery and has a health-giving effect on blood pressure and circulation as well as organ functions.