There is a new awareness in the public consciousness. An interest in the mind and the ancient practice of integrating with it, meditation.
How we think, move, eat and interact with our environment (sunlight, grounding) directly influences our quality of life.
The influence of mind over body has been known for thousands of years. The Dhyana is one of the earliest written records of meditation, which originates from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism dating to 1500BCE.
How Does Your Brain Produce The Sense Of You?
Body Image: Arises from the integration of multiple sensory and motor body maps imprinted upon the outer strips of the cortex, which are informed by the special senses, exteroceptive and proprioceptive systems.
The Five Special Senses: Transduce various frequencies from our environment to allow us to navigate our world: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste
Exteroceptive Senses: Those which occur at the body surface: touch, pressure, temperature
Proprioceptive Sense: Detects changes that occur in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint tissues: body position, stretch, tension, speed, etc
Interoceptive Sense: Relates to the internal sense of the body, the physiological state of the tissues themselves: hunger, nausea, a sense of the pulse
Sensory information from the external world, coupled with sensory information from our movement and the vast information from the internal body, integrates to form the perception of “self”.
- The internal is encapsulated by the external
- The interoceptive system recruits the exteroceptive system to carry out its needs and allow it to interact with the outside world
- Our external, object awareness relies upon interoception. We simply cannot perceive something external to use without the qualities associated with the sense of feeling in the first place
We cannot perceive Exteroceptive sense with a baseline, Interoceptive self.
A commonly practised and simple method of interoceptive meditation is to practice heartbeat perception.
- Sit comfortably in a quiet place
- Close your eyes and focus on trying to ‘feel’ your heart beating in your chest
- The goal is to perceive the rhythmic physiological noise and sensation of the heart
- Place your focus a the wrists to perceive your radial pulse
- The goal is not to touch the wrist with your fingertips but to ‘feel’ the sensation of the pulse
- This approach can also be practised at any of the sites at which the pulse can be palpated: dorsalis pedis on the top of the foot, posterior tibial on the inside of the ankle above the ankle joint, popliteal at the back of the knee, femoral in the groin, ulnar inside the wrist towards the little finger, radial on the inside of the wrist more to the side of the thumb, brachial inside the elbow and carotid by the throat.
What Does It Do?
- Produces more balanced emotional responses
- Improves decision making
- Improves cognitive processing
- Reduces knee-jerk emotional reactions
- Improves or restores a sense of presence and agency within the world
Understand Your Emotions
Your emotional responses towards another person at a given moment in time have everything to do with the integration of your own sensory-autonomic nervous system (Interoceptive system) and very little to do with the person standing in front of you.
If you’re interested in learning how your movement can affect interoceptive skill and vice-versa, feel free to get in touch here for details of classes, workshops or one to one sessions.