Small group intensive workshop - April 2019

Using interoception to regain your capacity for self-examination

Interoception: 'the somatic mechanism that informs us of all of our internal sensations'

Interoception is a form of mindfulness meditation that can help you restore your ability to self-examine. It should be used on your own emotional, moment-to-moment thought patterns as well as on your sense of your physical, bodily sensations.

Mindset-743161_960_720But what is interoception? Well, it was coined in the early 1900s and essentially refers to the electrochemical messages that your organs and bodily parts send to your brain, to be further processed as sensations like thirst and/or even malaise or shoulder tightening.

"Interoception, the sixth sensory system delineated by Sir Charles S. Sherrington in 1906, is the somatic mechanism that informs us of all of our internal sensations. It’s a difficult thing to define in laymen’s terms without appearing like a new-age-nonsense peddler, but the science itself is actually pretty simple. The tiny receptors that reside inside our organs, muscles, skin, and bones are constantly collecting data to send to the brain, which in turn interprets their messages as sensations like hunger, pain, sexual arousal and so on." (See the whole article at theladders.com)

Unfortunately, as this wonderful article on Interoception points out, our advancements in the field of psychiatric medication and/or constant technological immersion has robbed us somewhat of this innate machinery. In order to process, in the moment, what's going on with our emotions and our physical sensations, we need to step back and away from constant focus-stealing devices and/or remove our minds from things that dull or make pale the richness of conscious experience.

"Our use of drugs to mask symptoms has contributed to a lack of awareness about our own bodies. So has the emergence of technologies such as computers, smartphones, remotes and game controllers, which only involve our bodies—usually just our fingers—as control inputs.”

One technique to get started with interoception is to anchor your mind to your body. Imagine shutting down various parts of your body as you lay completely still on the floor. You will get better over time, and as you do, you'll be able to recover sensations that your body has tried to tell your mind, but that your mind perhaps was too busy or too engaged to notice.

Additional readings/resources

We've lost touch with our bodies (Scientific American)

The most effective tool against anxiety

 

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