woman surrounded by sunflowers

The Sense of Life

Amy Huntereece, PhD candidate, M.Ed.

January 2021

Life is the first sense among the 12 that Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education, developed and introduced about 100 years ago.

The sense of life is a lower sense, classified as physical, inner, or a sense of the will.  These inward senses make the effects of the external world upon us evident. They are helpful with perception of one’s own body.

The sense of life informs you of being full, indigestion, needing to use the toilet, an injury, or a body ache.  Usually this sense goes about unnoticed.  It is when something is amiss, you are sick or something is disrupted, that you become most aware of this sense inwardly.  Under normal circumstances, we are more focused outward and unaware of the sense of life. 

The life sense also gives you the feeling of inhabiting a physical mass with substance.  If you only had the sense of touch, your body would feel as though it ended at your skin. 

Thankfully, this sense serves us as an important warning system.  If we were unaware of our inward pain or urges, we would potentially and unintentionally hurt ourselves.

How does this relate to Unitarian Universalism and Religious Exploration?

The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism are the ideas which we affirm to “hold as strong values and moral guides.”  

I identified 12 key concepts that appear throughout the seven principles.  These are:









Democratic process




When we make a conscious effort to fortify the sense of life, we will in turn be developing awareness of worth, compassion, acceptance, peace, respect, and connectedness. 

What can you do to fortify this sense?

  • Notice how you feel, then drink some water or jog around the block.  Repeat your observation.  What has changed?
  • Notice a plant or animal.  Decide if it looks healthy or not.  How do you know?
  • Observe the pain of another person or animal.  What do you experience, where do you experience it?  What feelings go through you?

For further information about the life sense, check out the wonder of childhood by Lisa Boisvert


Boisvert, L. (2011). The wonder of childhood. http://thewonderofchildhood.com/2011/09/the-sense-of-life/

Steiner, R. (1986). In A. Howard (Ed.), Spiritual science as a foundation for social forms [Geisteswissenschaft als erkenntnis der grundimpulse sozialer gestaltung] (M. St. Goar, Trans.). Anthroposophic Press. (Original work published in 1920).

van Gelder, T. (2015). Sense of life. http://tomvangelder.antrovista.com/sense-of-life-125m52.html

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