Embodiment and Interoception

Do you journey inside your body to sense how and where you feel physical and emotional sensations? Honing your interoception can enrich your experiences and support decision making and action informed by your inner sense of knowing and wholeness.

This post is an excerpt from my October 2023 newsletter. If you would like to receive a free monthly newsletter delivered directly to your inbox, contact me at [email protected].

I’ve been watching a very bright star in the East before sunrise lately, a source of wonder and an invitation to predawn contemplation. In these quiet moments, I internally scan my body. Today, I find a slight soreness in my shoulders, reminding me how strong I feel when I’m working out regularly and reinforcing my motivation to make the drive to the gym. I breathe deeply to check for remnants of inflammation from my recent bout of COVID, and I am grateful that my respiratory system, boosted by elderberry-echinacea syrup and probiotics, seems to be back in balance.

Internal wanderings in the body-mind are examples of interoception, one of the 30-plus recognized “senses” we employ every day. Our interoceptive sense supports self-awareness, allowing us to more easily distinguish our emotions from those of others and enhancing our personal resilience and capacity for empathy.

An appropriately-tuned interoceptive sense can also help us assimilate common 21st century experiences that challenge internal and interpersonal harmony. For example:

  • Our regular journeys to the online universe can mute or muddle our awareness of time and space in ways subtle and profound. Interoception can bring us back to a balanced perspective on our self and our presence in current time and in the world.
  • Traumatic experiences, both personal and collective, can cause us to temporarily shut down—physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually—and can dampen important internal and external cues. Interoceptive practices encourage careful listening to these cues, which can guide us toward actions that increase our resilience and support our assimilation of reality.

When we choose to step away from situations that disembody us, even for a few moments a day, our attention can move to our inherent preference for balance. Bringing awareness to body-mind-environment interactions and sensations in moments of meditation can remind us how to access interoceptive awareness in the midst of our busy lives.

Energetic skills to enhance your embodiment and hone your interoception

These energetic practices welcome life as it is, ground us in current time, and support our empowered humanness as co-creators of our reality. Practicing our internal focus enhances our interoceptive capacity and our capacity to return to embodied balance. Feel free to practice these skills individually, or weave two or more of them into a meditation.

Breath: Gentle focused breathing can reduce anxiety and support a skillful and resilient presence. Touching into our breath also reminds us of our right to be fully present—to take up our space—in the world. Take three gentle belly breaths in, and three releasing breaths out. Tune into your interoceptive sense and check for any tension in your body. Breathe into the tension and release it with your outbreath.

Grounding: The grounding cord connects the first chakra (near the base of the spine) to the center of the Earth. This cord is a two-way connection, through which we can invite Earth energy up to replenish our energy body, and through which we can release energy to the Earth for recycling. From the center of your head, invite the Earth to send up a neutral grounding cord to the base of your 1st chakra. Use your interoceptive sense to scan your body. Release any sensations of tightness, tension, anxiety, or overwhelm down your grounding cord.

Feet chakras: Opening the feet chakras (in the soles of the feet) enables a sense of release, letting go, and trusting our connection to the Earth. With your feet flat on the floor, bring your attention to your feet chakras. Set your feet chakras at 60% open and clockwise, and allow your Etheric roots to extend downward two to three meters into the Earth.

2nd chakra: The 2nd chakra (just below the navel) can be set to balance our emotional expression, both within the context of our experience and in relation to other people. Most of us run our 2nd chakra too far open, which can make it harder to distinguish our emotions from those of others. Bring your attention to your 2nd chakra. Check that it is running in a clockwise direction and set it to 25% open.

Crown (7th chakra): Setting the crown (at the center top of the head) with a sense of “openness to life as you find it” supports acceptance and reduces resistance, as well as cultivating an open relationship with Spirit. (Note: I find it helpful to think of accepting reality as “forgiving” reality, per Richard Rohr, with the understanding that accepting reality does not require or imply our approval or assent of everything that is happening. More on this topic in a future newsletter!) Bring your attention to your crown and check that it is running clockwise. Set it to 50% open.

Hand chakras: Balanced hand chakras (in the palms) support a balance of giving and receiving. Bring your attention to your hand chakras, and check that your hand chakras are rotating clockwise. Set them to 50%.

Auric boundaries: Touching into the edges of our aura reminds us of our bounded sense of self-responsibility and our capacity to engage from a grounded place with people and experiences in the world around us. For women, the aura extends one to 1.5 meters from the body in all directions; for men, one meter in all directions. Bring your attention to the edges of your aura up and down, front and back, and side to side. Trace and affirm your auric boundaries.

Recycle and replenish: At the close of your meditation, bring your energy back in through your crown. Invite just the right amount of Earth energy to travel up your grounding cord and lots and lots of golden Cosmic energy to enter through your crown.

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