We all have an innate sixth sense of what’s happening inside us – like knowing when we’re about to get sick.
There’s a constant stream of communication from our bodies to our brains, via the vagus nerve, telling our brains the condition of our overall state of well-being. In fact, 80% of the information our brains use to determine if we’re okay, safe, focused, energized, stressed, etc, comes *from the body*, not from the brain.
Paying attention to the communication between the vagus nerve and the brain is called interoception.
We typically only notice this communication stream when it’s loud and we’ve already been taken over by stress or emotion. We can hone our interoception skills by taking moments of mindfulness to drop into the body throughout the course of the day to just notice what’s happening.
It seems obvious that we know when we’re hungry or thirsty, but we often don’t pay attention to these things until we reach states like being hangry. We can learn to notice the more subtle cues as they pop up and can address them like taking vitamin C before we actually get sick or noticing when we’re shifting towards internal states that send us into thought spirals, before we’re in the thought spiral.
When we take time to build these skills while we’re in calm, “normal”, states of being, we have more access to these skills when we’re in high stress situations. This then leads to greater overall changes of noticing things like “oh I’m feeling sick, no wonder my outlook is so doom and gloom right now” instead of feeding the doom and gloom thoughts.
It’s powerful stuff and also very simple. By intentionally directing our attention to our bodies and just noticing what’s there, we can eventually change the trajectory of our lives.
I created a short, guided body scan to teach you how you can start to drop-in and pay attention to those internal cues and grow your interoception skills, perfect to do before all those holiday family gatherings. Link here and below. Click to minute two to start the body scan and bypass the introduction.
The body leads the mind.