A term that is popping up all over in the world of meditation and stress management is interoception. This scientific term actually refers to a fairly simple process. Most simply, it is a lesser-known sense that helps people understand and feel what is going on inside their body.
In this article we will look at what interoception is and why it is important.
What is Interoception?
Organs systems throughout our bodies have receptor cells, much like the receptors our muscles and joints. These receptors collect information on how our systems are functioning. This information is sent from the inside of our body to our brain for interpretation. Our brain uses this data to regulate vital functions like body temperature, hunger, thirst, digestion, and heart rate.
Interoception helps us feel and understand what is going on inside our body. This information covers the gamut, with data on whether you are hungry, full, hot, cold, thirsty, tired, carry stress in our body or experiencing any pain.
How Does Interoception Help Me?
What is so important about interoception is its impact on how we feel. The reason interoception has become such a big topic of conversation is that in our busy, stressed-out world we have lost the ability to do this subtle but important body check. We have stopped taking the time to check in with ourselves and see how we feel. By ignoring this hardwired impulse, we are missing an opportunity to feel better.
When you start to become more aware of your body and how it feels you can start to impact your body’s functioning for the better. Everything from decreasing respiration to lowering your pulse to reducing the stress you carry in your body is possible with a higher sense of interoception.
How Can I Increase my Body Awareness
Increasing your body awareness is much simpler than you might think. It’s as simple as stopping what you are doing and spending just a few moments gathering information on how you feel. Notice where your body is in space. If you are sitting notice how your body feels against the seat. If you are standing notice how your feet feel as they touch the ground. Pay attention to whether your breathing is shallow or rapid. Is there any pain in your body?
Asking these simple questions allows you to connect more with the way you feel physically, which inevitable impacts how you feel emotionally and psychologically.
What many people find surprising when they begin working on their state of interoception is how something so simple can create such dramatic change. With a couple of minutes throughout the day you can connect with your brain and body.