[nextpage title=”Die 12 Sinne als Grundlage der Persönlichkeitsentwicklung”]


The senses are the open doors to the world but they are in danger today because of the stress of the civilisation: too noisy, too fast, too sweet, too strong colours, the media, less space to play, dangerous traffic, less movement and so on. => learning problems; ADHD.

SOS = Save Our Senses!

(obere Sinne)
9. Sense of hearing10. Sense of language11. Sense of thoughts12. Sense of ego
(mittlere Sinne)
5. Sense of smell6. Sense of taste7. Sense of sight8. Sense of temperature
(untere Sinne)
1. Sense of touch2. Sense of life3. Sense of movement4. Sense of Balance

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Rudolf Steiner introduced the 12 senses as basis fort he Waldorf curriculum.

1. Sense of touch (tactile)

Tactile cells (meissner cells) – does not reach over the own body, experiencing the border, is directed inwardly and gives the feeling of myself, German: be-greifen means understanding,

It gives me the feeling of I and the world belong together,

  • I have solid ground under my feet,
  • I can rely on the world,

-the world gives me the feeling of the substance and of my body, gravity,

-the world and I belong together: a religious feeling of God and trust, no fear! God holds me

-This is the basis of my self-consciousness and self-assertion, self-confidence.

  • this leads to reverence and respect

I Am! This is the feeling of the sense of touch. I feel myself, this is what people want when they are hurting themselves. Each victim of violence takes in the perpetrator and this becomes a special realm of inner pain. The victim tries to cover the inner pain by outer pain and it is fun to cut yourself by a knife – borderline. This reduces tension and one gets contact to oneself. The reason for borderline is to see in the childhood by abuse (beating; being locked into a wardrobe, sexual); the pictures from the past are suddenly present, “flashback”, and are overwhelming the person. Help has to come by a therapy. In historical times the borderline patient was to find in monasteries like St. Katharine of Siena.

The child is incarnated to connect with the earth and the touch is most important.


therefore NO MEDITATION with children because this is a conscious matter of an adult who wants to connect with the spiritual world and the child is just coming from there.

Meditation for the child is PLAY.
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2. Sense of life

Nerves: autonomous nervous system, solar plexus, ganglions along the spine, points of pain within the skin, bony skin, joints, muscles and blood vessels.

-Gives me the feeling of well-being or pain, hunger, thirst, weakness ect.

-Experiencing the totality of inner processes of build up or breaking down and decomposition

-Gives judgements on everything what happens in the body

-It is a logical sense because the processes are pure logic

-Etheric processes

-The sense of life gives the feeling of inner comfortableness,

  • is the sense of comfort.


-joy leads to courage and equanimity
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3. Sense of (the own) movement (proprioceptive)

This sense goes always together with the sense of balance.

The nerves are within muscles, joints, ligaments, and endplates of nerves, skin, and archways of ears ect

It gives information about the movements of my own body and together with the sense of balance we have the basis for mathematic and architecture (shape, size, position, 3 dimensions).

  • I know that it is me who moves and I am able to control the movement
  • This gives a feeling of my own will to work out my aim
  • A feeling to be free to do what I want: freedom
  • It gives joy into my soul, thinking, feeling and willing are under my command
  • Inner independence
  • While doing mathematic the kids are more noisy and move, the finger tips have more blood
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4. Sense of Balance (kinaesthetic)

The static organ in the ear (chalk stones on the nerve cells) is directed towards the centre of the earth. Normally we do not feel this sense but only in extreme situations as in high mountains one feels dizzy.

We see this sense develop in the first 3 years of childhood:

View – smile – head – arms & trunk – sitting – creeping – standing – first step – joy

With age 3 the self-confidence is growing coming out as obstinacy

  • having a standpoint and yet relating to others (by imitation)
  • feeling of inner calmness and safety
  • judgement
  • inner balance, peace of mind, unselfishness
  • peace of mind

The 4 lower senses are 4 important “columns of development”

The sense of touch causes trust.

This trust is basis for confidence, positivity, fearlessness, joy, knowing what one is capable to do. It gives self-esteem, so that critic does not hurt.

We foster this sense and trust already when the bay is carried, held or laid down; it is not normal when a child cannot snuggle.

The sense of life lets us feel good and comfortable.

This gives self-confidence, feeling good in one.

Unstable, aggressive kids have too much egotism and self-esteem but less self-confidence. It is healing: a warm bath, homely nurturing, cooking, and baking

The sense of movement gives the feeling of independence that I can do what I want to do. It will be fun to experience the own movements: playing outside, climbing, swimming, swing ect.

The sense of balance lets experience inner quietness, this is the basic feeling for to know how to get to my aim.
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5. Sense of smell (olfactory)

We “taste the air” and this causes strong sympathy or antipathy which is not easily to overcome and therefore a teacher should not use a perfume because it might prevent students from learning.

  • Smell is connected with memory
  • Is influencing our instincts
  • Pulls you into your body (sex-sphere)
  • Becomes blunt very quickly
  • Is a chemical sense
  • Influences the state of health
  • We cannot avoid to smell
  • Effects our moral: stench of hell and perfume of paradise
  • Information about good or not good
  • Good or no good is the basis for moral judgement, this can lead to compassion.
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6. Sense of taste (gustatory)

We experience the wealth of natural substances of the world. Tasting happens only in a liquid form and so it is a chemical sense too.

  • the world is within my body and so I am lead into my body by this sense
  • it is an inwardly experience
  • sense 5 and 6 are the “door” of the sense of life to the outer world
  • we taste sour, bitter, sweet, salty, pungent; sour/bitter are awakening and causing will actions, whilst sweet makes dull, comfortable
  • we relate it to life: bitter experiences; a sweet child; tasteful dressed
  • by the taste of an apple mankind fall into sin
  • finding out about healthy or unhealthy => we give our judgement about Quality
  • a healthy thinking
  • Taste leads to tactfulness and politeness.
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7. Sense of sight (visual)

The sight gives information about the outer world,

  • the consciousness is alert
  • light unites or integrates and we see the obvious aspects of the matter
  • this sense is superficial and touches the surface of objects
  • the eyes are related at least to the senses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,12
  • very fast jerky movements let us see sharp, staring lets the object disappear
  • my will is connected with the eyes; “etheric arms” go out of my eyes
  • inner contentment in me through seeing what is around
  • an activity goes out; in the pupil I meet the soul of the other person
  • “Look into my eyes, be honest!” – Honesty, the true being is met.
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8. Sense of temperature/warmth

The own body temperature is the indicator for this sense; I feel myself (floating tank). This is very individual,

  • the I incarnates into the warmth of blood
  • we experience the inner essence and state of the objects
  • we penetrate deeper into the outer world and its inner substance
  • this sense makes us interested in the world
  • connection to the sense of life: the average temperature makes us feeling well
  • warm colours and feelings, a warm heart connects but a cool head separates
  • one can compare this sense with the sense of balance: inner and outer warmth
  • related with senses 5, 6, 7 and opens the door to the spirit
  • warmth of excitement gives warmth to others
  • enthusiasm is a warmth which comes only by human beings into the world
  • love, enthusiasm, fanaticism, hate show qualities of warmth
  • Love is warmth of the heart and there is always patience.
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9. Sense of hearing (auditory)

This sense is active when one is listening to noise and music; when we listen to a language other parts of the brain are active and when we get the message another part is active.

  • we hear analytically: bird watching and synthetically: intervals, harmony
  • by listening we penetrate deeply into the inner core of matter and living beings
  • testing porcelain or wheels of a train
  • listening needs balance, doing less than nothing; an immobile active rest
  • opening to others makes selfless and understanding
  • it needs to have a distance from myself
  • singing and making music together fosters social faculties
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10. Sense of language or words

This sense is an extension of the sense of hearing; we perceive the musical elements of speech.

The sense of words makes it possible to know that we listen to a language.

The sense organ for words is the same which one uses to produce speech: larynx, skull, bones, lungs and the whole body vibrates in the same rhythm as the body of the one who is speaking; the listener is “dancing” with the speaker as high speed camera can show.

  • we have to keep the own organs calm for to perceive right
  • this sense is based on the sense of movement; transformed movement makes sense 10
  • by listening we can penetrate deep and experience the individuality of the speaker
  • speech and movement go together as you can see when Italians are speaking
  • this sense fosters inner courage
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11. Sense of thoughts

The whole body is involved: somebody utters a thought, which is generated in the brain but in reality it is that our brain is connected to the etheric world where all thoughts are to be found. This etheric thought is transformed to sound waves. The waves of the word are the materialised carrier of the thought and they hit the ear, go into the cortical organ, “die” down in the liquid there and the etheric thought is freed again and can become a thought again in our brain.

Etheric thought – word – sound waves – ear liquid – freed etheric thought.

Here is to see the relationship to the sense of life which is the manifestation of the etheric forces of the body. In so far the sense organ is the whole body with the vegetative or automotive nerves system as centre.

We all had the experience to listen to somebody and after a while we feel, that we did not get the message because we were somewhere else with our own thoughts. And brain mapping shows that a very different area is active when we think along with the speaker.

Further conditions for the sense:

  • this sense works properly when one keeps the own thoughts out
  • no sympathy or antipathy but being like a mirror; one can block by sending antipathy
  • the thought of the other should live in me
  • there is body language (pantomime), signs, pictures, writing
  • I have to get a distance from myself
  • The gesture is an very enhanced interest
  • Joy in other cultures is such an interest
  • Self-education is needed; see in AND THERE WAS LIGHT by Luysserand
  • It appears logic, can be objective
  • An idea can exist without speech (Sheldrake)
  • Telepathy happens when there is a consensus between souls, same ideas
  • “the true thinking begins, where one need not to speak anymore” (Chinese)
  • The content of a sentence is higher than the speech.
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12. Sense of (the other) ego (I also call it sense of empathy)

All eleven senses together are the sense organ and the centre lies in the head. It seems to me that the recently found mirror neurons are this centre.

The mirror neurons are responsible for the phenomenon that happens in the brain of someone who observes an action: namely, that exactly the same process occurs as that which happens in the brain of the one doing the action. This mirror function is also active during emotional processes. This explains the phenomenon of empathy: in the moment that I experience what another person experiences, I also have the corresponding feeling. Empathy is therefore also finding/ experiencing oneself in the other at the physiological level. This physiologic basis of empathy has been shown, by corresponding attempts, not to be activated when the observed event is made by a machine.

This sense works by alternating sympathy and antipathy. Sympathy is “sleeping” into the other person; antipathy means “waking up” and being in me: passive – active.

This sense shows the character of the other you, the totality in which a person appears

  • I have to become selfless and accepting
  • Openness is accepting the other person
  • Developing a pleasant interest => empathy
  • I have to practice renunciation and sacrifice
  • Not I but the other may live in me (Christ in me)
  • The I is beyond gender, race, age, body

Media are making dull: reduced experiences, narrow and reduced, one meets no ego.
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The 12 senses and the soul qualities

Transformation of the senses
The lessons
Further thoughts about the 12 senses:

(I refer to the senses just by their number)

The senses are not only physical but there is an impact on our soul: Values and moral are generated by the senses.

1 – No fear, God holds me, reverence, and respect

2 – Comfortable, joy, courage, and equanimity

3 – Inner independence and freedom

4 – Inner balance, calmness, peace of mind, unselfishness

5 – good/not good, moral judgement, compassion

6 – Healthy/unhealthy, quality, politeness, tactfulness

7 – Inner contentment, will

8- Enthusiasm, patience, warm hearted

9 – Selfless, open, understanding

10 – Inner courage

11 – Interest

12 – Sacrifice, renunciation

The 12 senses are the basis for values, moral, conscience and all religions.

When the child is born it shows all 12 senses perfectly open, so the child is religious just by the body. In the course of life the child is loosing the “innocence” and as adolescents or adults we have to come back through the activity of our ego to the source of all the values. Hereby the senses can become “spiritual eyes”!
zum Kapitelanfang

Transformation of the senses

We group the senses into 3 groups:

Lower senses 1 – 4: inwardly directed, activity, will, reality

Middle senses 5 – 8: nature, feelings sensibility

Higher senses 9 – 12: outwardly directed, knowledge, social senses, calmness, responsibility

The lower senses transform into the higher senses

1 – 12, I am, I am not but the other in me

2 – 11

3 – 10

4 – 9

Neglected and abused children have problems in the higher senses and for to treat it we have to improve the lower senses.

Prevention has to happen!

The lower senses transform into the middle senses

1 – 5

2 – 6

3 – 7

4 – 8

Lower senses: senses of the night, sleeping consciousness

Middle senses: senses of the dawn, semiconscious, dreamy: 5&6; awake: 7 – 9 s.o.the day

Higher senses: higher consciousness, revelation of the spiritual world within the physical

The FORMATION of a JUDGEMENT happens in that way:

Moral and values through 1 – 4

Aesthetic by 5 – 8; senses of feelings

Cognitive by 9 – 12; senses of knowledge

If the senses of knowledge are not well enough developed, then they cannot get free from the emotions and we have a subjective knowledge and it develops fundamentalism.


1 – 4 the own body

5 – 8 the outer nature

9 – 12 the fellowman as carrier of spirit

Institutions and child development

1 – 4 will, age 0 to 7, kindergarten and family; imitation, the world is good

5 – 8 feelings, age 7 to 14, grade school, knowing the world authority, world is beautiful

9 – 12 thinking, 14 – 21, High school, from knowing to knowledge, world is true, ideals

Doing – knowing – knowledge

Willing – feeling – thinking

No rigid or fixed concepts but an enlivened thinking! The importance of artistic subjects.

Develop both hemispheres of the brain!
zum Kapitelanfang

The lessons

At the lower school

we should teach in a way that the lesson is an enjoyment. But the lessons will become deep enough when the teacher has a lively relationship to arts. In grade school: the world is beautiful and we respect this when the teacher avoids a utilitarian thinking so that the lesson becomes artistically.

Puberty and adolescents

The students open up to love the world. The sexual aspect is a very small part of “ripening towards earth” (Erdenreife). Now within the adolescent lives: the world is true. The faculty of judgement brings out a sharp und quick intellect whilst the student is psychologically unstable.

The lesson shall get a scientific character and the first step is to learn to observe and exactly to describe the facts as they are and not as one wants them to be and how one likes them. Here the student needs a foreboding, a clear view on the present, mathematical skills, exactness, precision, accuracy, meticulousness, reason and common sense, flexible imagination and the joy of sensuality,- all that is possible now. It is important to gain trust in the thinking so that the student feels the world has truth.

In class 10 will be surveying, and then it is not the teacher who decides and says what is correct because the students are corrected by themselves.

Here the students are learning another faculty: to accept things as they are and so it is a step towards selflessness.

It is important that the student can be astonished about the result at the end of a process.
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Caring for the 12 senses

The following view of the senses shall describe some obstructions and possible support of the 12 senses.

Sense of Touch
Sense of life
Sense of movement
Sense of balance
Sense of smell
Sense of taste
Sense of sight
Sense of warmth/temperature
Sense of hearing
Sense of language/words
Sense of thoughts
Sense of ego

The body develops during the first 6/7 years especially through the lower senses.
zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of Touch

Touch gives trust that there is reality and is leading to understanding, gives the experience of the body, gives security through contact.

Weakness of the sense and damaging influences on it

  • superficial care without inner acceptance of the child
  • too much security and overprotection or being left alone
  • to have contact more for the own desire than out of love for the child
  • lack of trust in the own ability to learn

Care and support

A change between security and being alone: tenderness and quietness, being on your own;

Cuddle, carried but also let the child go; confirm the child, praise and give time.
zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of life

This sense gives cosiness, harmony, the feeling of coherent processes, being eager for something new.

Weakness, damaging influences

  • fear, quarrel und arguments, violence
  • shock
  • mad rush
  • dissatisfaction
  • excess, boundlessness
  • nervousness
  • unconnected ness of actions
  • laziness, feeling a lack of enthusiasm when certain demands are placed

Care, support

  • Bringing rhythm into the day, rituals,
  • Rhythm between demands and relaxation, limiting the break
  • Trustworthy mood of life
  • Experience of harmonious structures, the right proportion and timing
  • Enjoying food, good mood at the table, nice setting
    zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of movement

This sense gives information of the own movement and the feeling of freedom, one feels tension and relaxation of the muscles which is a precondition for manual skilfulness

Damaging influences, weakness of this sense

  • Telling the children all the time: This is forbidden! Do not touch! Do not…! Be careful!
  • Lack of stimulation to become active by a lack of role model, examples and passivity
  • In front of TV no movements
  • Automatic toys which make the child a spectator
  • Problems with coordination, “two left hands”, not enough freedom

Care, support

  • let the children become active by themselves
  • children’s rooms shall be arranged so that everything can be touched, free play must be possible
  • appropriate movements shall be possible like jumping, climbing, running,
  • experience of the elements
  • rhythmical exercises, dance, eurythmy
    zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of balance

This sense gives the relation of the body to the space and through this sense I become conscious about my standpoint and that I can change it without losing balance,- this gives calmness and self-confidence.

Damaging influences, weakness of this sense

  • Lack of movement
  • Bad orientation, stands always in the way
  • Inner restlessness
  • fidgety
  • Depression and resignation
  • Weary of life
  • Inner conflict

Care, support

  • games, see-saw, swing, eurythmy, stilts, jumping and the like
  • having adults around who are striving for inner balance
  • security and calmness when you are with the child
  • as adult being clear about the own standpoint

The perceptions of the following senses are very important especially for the second phase of childhood, when at school the outer world is perceived much more sensitive than before.

zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of smell

The smell is causing strong emotions and calls up colourful memories.

Damaging influence, weakness

  • badly ventilated rooms
  • smell as a real nuisance, disgusting stench
  • sickening impressions and behaviour
  • strong dependency on sympathy and antipathy

Care, support

-experiencing different kinds of smell at plants, food, nature

Sense of taste

This sense gives the experience of quality of a substance, works closely with smell.

Damaging influence, weakness

  • Standardized taste – ketchup…
  • “tasteless” remarks, tactlessness
  • no aesthetical surrounding
  • lack of distinction

Care, support

  • preparing the food so that they can have the special, characteristic taste
  • “tasteful” remarks and judgement about people and things
  • Aesthetical surrounding
  • developing the ability to differentiate

zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of sight

Experiencing light and colours; the world appears as surface.

Damaging influence, weakness

  • fixation through destructive and “stupid” pictures
  • glaring colours
  • TV- abuse
  • “dark” mood
  • colourless, dull surrounding
  • no interest in the world

Care, support

  • Attentiveness for fine differences of the colours in nature
  • The parents are interested in colours, role model
  • Harmonious combination of colours in the house and clothing
  • Exercises in observation
  • Painting
  • Relaxation exercises for the eyes.
    zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of warmth/temperature

This sense is experiencing warmth and coldness.

Damaging influence, weakness

  • taking greatly exaggerated measures to hardening
  • overly heated rooms
  • inadequate cloths
  • a cold impersonal atmosphere
  • overdone untruthful cordiality
  • lack of a capacity for enthusiasm

Care, support

  • caring for a heart warming atmosphere
  • caring for the warmth-organism by the age appropriate cloths
  • enthusiasm for an idea or a task

In the 3rd phase of development the relationship to the outer world is changing again and the inner world is to form anew, now the higher senses need to be developed.

Remember: the higher senses are the transformed lower senses.
zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of hearing

This sense develops also the inner realm of the soul.

Damaging influence, weakness

  • acoustic overtaxing especially by media (too loud, too fast, not personal-human)
  • superficially talking or untruthful, insincere
  • inhuman intonation
  • stubbornness

Care, support

  • singing and musical activities, playing an instrument
  • when one tells/reads a story one should adapt the speed of speaking to the child
  • repeating what was said
  • bird watching, becoming sensitive to sounds
    zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of language/words

This sense has to do with intonation, pronunciation, form of a sentence, musical in the words

Damaging influence, weakness

  • Cool and neutral behaviour, the child does not know the mood of the parents
  • Every kind of lying
  • Always misunderstanding
  • Something similar is not recognised
  • The transfer on related fields of knowledge or actions does not succeed

Care, support

Sense of thoughts

This sense gives a direct understanding of coherence or the connection of thoughts

Damaging influences, weakness

  • senseless actions
  • confused thoughts
  • distorting of facts and coherence
  • to associate senselessly
  • relationships and connections are not recognized
  • the thinking appears ridged
  • without interest

Care, support

  • coherence and being true
  • experiencing meaningful and appropriate connections and causal relationships
  • concentration exercises
  • bringing thoughts into images
  • Stimulation of the power of imagination.
    zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”

Sense of ego

This sense gives an immediate experience of the character of another human being.

Damaging influence, weakness

  • different forms of unkindness, disrespect and no interest
  • abuse of the media, virtual reality where one cannot experience a real other being
  • materialistic ideas about the human being
  • inconsiderateness, thoughtlessness
  • violence and sexual abuse
  • mistrust
  • Dealing with knowledge in a abstract and cool way.

Care, support

  • in an early age experiencing loving care and a role model
  • love amongst the adults and to the child
  • a true perception of the other person
  • eye contact
  • touching, kindness
  • confirmation and praise
  • giving time, no hurry but patience
  • establishing personal contact

The complete development of all senses is an ideal, which we are striving for. The knowledge about the care of the senses and the meaning for the development of the ego gives us the necessary orientation and a meaningful prevention.

More and more the children live in a perfect artificial world where the senses are over stimulated and becoming dull.

Our children need protected zones and advocates for the right of childhood.
zum Kapitelanfang “Caring for the 12 senses”
ganz nach oben

Protect the childhood! – SAVE OUR SENSES! – SOS!

Horst Hellmann, 2007-04-06


Albert Soesman, The Twelve Senses