The eighth sense: TEMPERATURE

Temperature is the eighth sense among the twelve that Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education, developed and introduced about 100 years ago.

The sense of temperature is the fourth of the middle senses, classified as outward and senses of feeling.  These senses are helpful with interpreting the external world.

Temperature is different from touch because, as Van Gelder says, “The sense of temperature is observed in relation to your own temperature and to the body surface area being exposed to coldness or heat…The larger the surface area perceiving the change in temperature, the more accurately you estimate the difference.”  A 60 degree day feels very different in March after a cold winter than it does in October after a hot summer.

Van Gelder also comments on mood in relation to temperature.  “Temperature affects your mood more strongly than other senses. This is partly because the sense covers your whole body, and for another part because warmth or cold can make your whole body feel comfortable or uncomfortable. The cold chills you, and severe cold can numb or even paralyse [sic] you. Warmth can make you feel enthusiastic, but too much heat can cause apathy. Only moderate temperatures do not affect your mood.”

I often tell my children, if you are frustrated with someone, send them warm bolts of love from your heart.  They will feel this and match the warm vibration.  The same is true about someone who is standoffish or gruff.  That behavior is cold and causes a rejection response.

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 twelve key concepts that appear throughout them.  These are:









Democratic process




When we make a conscious effort to fortify the sense of temperature, we will in turn be developing awareness of justice, compassion, acceptance, and connectedness.

What can you do to fortify this sense?

Fill three bowls of water at temperatures of cold, warm, & hot respectively. Hold one hand in the cold water for 3 minutes and the other in the hot water. Then put both hands in the middle bowl for some minutes. Describe your observations.

Measure the surface temperature of an animal, for example a cow, by placing your hands on various parts of its body (side, legs, head, horns, nose, etc). Which parts are warmer, which parts are colder?

Search your memory for situations in which the atmosphere between people was warm, and situations in which the atmosphere was cool. Discuss these with your children. Can you discover any patterns?

My best to you with many blessings,

Amy Huntereece, M. Ed.

DRE, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Flagstaff, AZ


van Gelder, T. (n.d.). Sense of temperature. Retrieved from

Working with the 12 senses Touch, Health, Movement and Balance as a Foundation for Academic Progress by Jeff Tunkey