What is Interoception?

I was asked to bring interoceptive investigation to life. Interoception is the sense of how do you feel in your body. The sense of heart rate, breathing, digestion, and mood and inner emotion. Kelly Mahler is an occupational therapist who has written books including “Interoception: the Eight Sensory System” and Interoception Curriculum: A step by Step Framework for Developing Mindful Self Regulation.” Kelly works to assist people with autism to better sense their inner landscape. Mindfulness has been found to be the most effective tool to investigate your body sense and to build better self regulation abilities. Years ago. I began with a breathing practice to anchor myself. This was a good preparation for looking further into the body. In the beginning the practice of loving kindness is useful, as positive emotions are easier to manage. You practice by breathing and sensing your heart space. Breathing into the sensations of love and gratitude for a person you love, a person you have neutral feelings for and then someone who you find difficult to love. Loving kindness opens the heart space and creates a comforting feeling of warmth and compassion. The breathing practice seems to create a safer and calm environment to enter into the awareness of emotion and mood. Labeling your sensations is another important aspect as well. The more language you can use to describe your current state of being the better. Is your heart joyful or tense? Is your stomach still or swirling? Are your face and arms relaxed or tight? Identify where and what emotions you are finding? When you begin this looking it can be quite a surprise what you find. Some people realize that they have never truly felt the physical sensations in their body. I know for me the first time I took a deeper look the actual physical pain was a shock. I was investigating difficult emotions in the heart and I knew I was getting somewhere, as this was a completely new experience for me. This was some years ago, but now interoceptive investigation is a door to peaceful calm for me. I immediately notice a discomfort or movement, I then breathe and see deeper. It brings me an instant shift to a still place. Of course this has all taken practice to retrain my brain from being completely reactive, to a decision I can make to deal with difficulties. It is a remarkable mystery to me that these pathways to peace exist for us all, but it is true and it just takes a commitment to practice the breath and courage to make the choice to uncover your sensations.

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