top of page

Sensory perception: The basis of holistic personal development

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Genuine and holistic personal development begins with our sensory perception. At first, this sounds a bit unfamiliar to many, but it makes a lot of sense against the background that humans experience the world first and foremost through their senses before they think.

The sensory perception and processing of sensory stimuli forms an important basis for how we humans react, behave and how/what we think.

Da Vinci already said, "All knowledge begins with the senses." And he is right about that. A picture that I like to use as an example to explain how sensory perception and our brain work is the expressive artwork "Guernica" by Picasso.

This 27-square-meter outcry against the bombardment of the eponymous village was painted by Picasso in 1937 in response to the destruction of the latter during the Spanish Civil War.

Dismembered body parts of humans and animals represent snippets of information that we perceive through our senses. Of course, there is a lot of room for interpretation in paintings, but it is equally possible that Picasso's brain simply put these scraps (his perception of the world) on canvas 1 to 1. This would make sense insofar as our brain also likes to interpret the input it gets through the senses inappropriately or past reality.

Our senses and their sensory integration at a young age are the basis for our development and for lifelong learning. This can be seen very nicely in Williams & Schellenberger's Pyramid of Learning, for example.

Sensory perception cannot be thought, but only felt. And only through this does thinking work. We first take in stimuli through our senses, process them (better or worse) and then think. And not vice versa.

First our body organizes the sensory stimuli (sensory processing), so that then finally the cortical, cognitive process can be efficient. I.e. thinking works by feeling!

That is why it is more than reasonable to work with our senses in personality development (i.e. in training and coaching, but also in personnel development), instead of only with our brain.

We learn faster and easier when we actually TOUCH, FEEL, SENSE, etc. things. That's why learning through play and learning with and through movement works so well (which we know from several studies and research).

The fact that we have forgotten this as adults is not only a pity, but counterproductive.

People with good sensory perception and well-integrated primitive reflexes often have more resilient bodies that can handle stress better.

This is also why sensory perception and movement are part of my training and coaching. It is the only way for a holistic and efficient development to take place and for a coherent picture to emerge from the individual scraps of information.

I often wonder how Picasso actually saw the world to create this extraordinary picture. How did his brain interpret his sensory perception to put it together like this?

Follow me on Social Media:


bottom of page