Interoception: How to Listen to the Language of your Body for Healing and Well-being
Updated: May 20
Unlock the Wisdom of Interoception in Somatic Practice
Interoception: The Wisdom Within
Have you ever paused to wonder how your body speaks to you? How you can tap into the wisdom within? Within each of us, there exists an intricate system of communication that often goes unnoticed but holds the key to our well-being and healing trauma through the body. Body sensation is how our body speaks to us – the art of listening to the sensations that arise from within is called interoception. In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of interoception and explore how a somatic approach to
listening to the body can help us develop a rich embodied awareness that can profoundly transform our lives.
What is interoception?
It's the way our body sends us signals about our internal state. Conveying vital information through the language of sensation. From the quietest murmur to a pounding heartbeat These bodily sensations carry profound significance. They alert us to our basic needs, such as hunger, thirst, or fatigue, and extend beyond that to intertwine with our emotions. Sending us sensations that reflect our inner states. Butterflies in our tummy when we feel nervous or excited. A warm fuzzy sensation of a hug or. A sense of softness and ease in our body when we feel calm and relaxed.
What does the science say?
Research has shown that interoception can play a key role in our decision-making, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. By tuning into both the pleasant and unpleasant interoceptive signals, we can gain a deeper sense of ourselves. Recognise our learned patterns and habits and find the freedom to explore new possibilities. Helping us make choices that align with our authentic selves. Helping us make choices that align with our authentic selves. This process of connecting to our inner guidance through interoception is sometimes called "embodied cognition," and it has been used in a wide range of therapeutic settings to help people overcome trauma, anxiety, and other challenges.
Unveiling the Pathways: Vagus Nerve and Fascia
Interoception encompasses a network of pathways within our body that facilitate the communication and processing of internal sensations. Two key components of these pathways are the Vagus nerve and our body’s fascia. Fascia previously thought to only be a tissue that gives us form and structure is now being investigated as an organ of communication itself. Separate from the nervous system.
The Vagus Nerve: Through the Lens of the polyvagal theory
The Vagus nerve plays a vital role in regulating our autonomic nervous system. The nerve that is associated with calming us down. Serving as the interoceptive pathway between our internal organs and the brain, it connects to organs such as the heart, lungs, stomach, and intestines. Dr. Stephen Porges' Polyvagal Theory delves into how the vagus nerve influences our physiological and psychological reactions to stress and social interactions.
According to Porges this nerve has two main branches: the ventral vagus, which promotes social engagement and feelings of safety, and the dorsal vagus, which triggers shutdown responses during extreme threat or trauma and affects our Vagal tone, Interoception, linked to the vagus nerve, not only allows us to sense and interpret internal bodily sensations like digestion, heart rate, and the "butterflies in your tummy" sensation but allows to become aware of our state, through the polyvagal lens, from a place of curiosity and self-care.
Lesser know is our understanding of the sensory nature of fascia, how trauma becomes held within our fascia, and how to regulate the nervous system through the interoceptive nature of fascia.
Fascia: Our fabric of embodiment
The human body's "living matrix," known as fascia, is an incredible connective tissue that pervades every aspect of our existence. Composed of collagen fibers, elastin, and ground substance (mainly water), it weaves an intricate network that interconnects every cell, muscle, bone, organ, and structure. Besides providing structural support and aiding movement, fascia also performs a crucial role in proprioception (the sensation of body position, pressure, and weight distribution) and interoception (the body's capacity to perceive and interpret internal signals).
Fascia is a dynamic and responsive tissue that contains vast amounts of information about our physical and emotional states. It transmits this information through several pathways, including the autonomic nervous system, which is rich in sensory receptors that respond to light touch, pressure, vibration, pain, and tension. As fascia carries information about internal states like stiffness, strain, softness, organ function, and emotional experiences, it communicates with the vagus nerve. This interaction between fascia and the vagus nerve is essential for regulating the nervous system and promoting overall well-being.
Distressed Interoception: When body sensations become overwhelming
Distressed interoception is a condition wherein the process of perceiving and interpreting internal sensations is disrupted or dysregulated. Such a condition can lead to difficulties in recognizing and responding to the needs of our body. This can present itself in a variety of ways, including heightened sensitivity to some sensations, reduced sensitivity to others, or misinterpretation of bodily signals. Chronic stress, trauma, certain mental health conditions, or physical ailments affecting interoceptive pathways can contribute to distressed interoception. People experiencing this state may feel uncomfortable, confused, or overwhelmed by physical sensations.
Co-regulation – the pathway to healing
In somatic practice, co-regulation emerges as a compassionate tool for individuals navigating distressed interoception. Through attuned presence and heartfelt connection, a somatic therapist guides self-inquiry. Creating a nurturing space to allow individuals to find solace and support. Within this sanctuary, individuals are invited to explore their internal experiences with kindness and understanding. Co-regulation offers immediate relief and fosters long-term healing, addressing the challenges of distressed interoception while empowering individuals to cultivate self-regulation skills. By embracing co-regulation, individuals embark on a transformative journey of nurturing their well-being and discovering the inherent wisdom of their bodies.
SomaSensing Body Unwinding: Embodied Interoception through Fascial Awareness
SomaSensing Body Unwinding is a somatic practice that recognizes the integral role of the fascia as an interoceptive pathway. SomaSensing Body Unwinding harnesses the inherent wisdom of the fascia, allowing it to guide our movements and facilitate a deep sense of embodiment.
During SomaSensing Body Unwinding, we tune into the fascial network and its interoceptive signals. By entering into a state of mindful presence and deep relaxation, we create a safe and nurturing environment for the fascia to express itself through gentle, organic movements. Without forcing or directing the body, we allow the interoceptive cues from the fascia to guide our experience. It may begin with a subtle unwinding, a gentle coaxing pulsing, pandiculation, or a soft undulation. As we deepen our fascial awareness, these movements naturally evolve, facilitating the release of tension and inviting the body into a state of greater ease and fluidity.
This practice acknowledges the fascia as an intelligent and interconnected system that holds the potential for self-regulation and healing. By attuning to the interoceptive signals within the fascia, we develop a profound sense of embodiment and connection to our physical, emotional, and energetic states.
A simple fascia sensing somatic practice
Can you take a moment to pause and check in with your body? Are you feeling alert or at ease as you read this? Take a moment to rest and find what feels comfortable for you. Pay attention to where you naturally turn to for relaxation and ease. Feel free to adjust your body position and explore what eases any strain or discomfort. Take the time to find what feels good for you. Let your body sensation guide you. 🧎♀️💜
Benefits of SomaSensing Body Unwinding:
SomaSensing Body Unwinding can bring a range of benefits to your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Some of the key benefits are:
Releasing trauma, strain, pain, and stuckness held in the fascia: The fascia, can hold onto physical and emotional tension and trauma. SomaSensing Body Unwinding helps to release these held patterns, allowing for greater freedom of movement and a sense of lightness and ease.
Healing the whole body: The fascia is interconnected and influences every part of our body. When we release tension and stuckness in the fascia, it can lead to a cascading effect of healing throughout the body, from improved digestion to reducing inflammation and restored vitality.
Healing trauma without having to talk about it: SomaSensing Body Unwinding can be a gentle and non-invasive way to heal trauma without having to talk about it.
Fascia hydration: Hydration is not the same as drinking water. It refers to how the water in our fascia becomes charged. Fascia hydration helps to improve tissue elasticity, blood flow, and nutrient delivery to our cells. The natural spiral motions that emerge in the body unwinding are how the body hydrates and revitalizes our fascia.