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EXPLORING OUR 8TH SENSE: INTEROCEPTION

Updated: Jan 11



Our body's ability to sense changes within itself is essential to survival.

Like the five basic senses, touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing, interoception is also part of our senses. Interoception is the body’s ability to identify and process internal actions of the organs and systems inside the body, like heartbeat, breathing, hunger, or the need to go to the toilet.

The specific parts of our brain, the interoception brain network consisting of the insula, striatum, cingulate, and prefrontal cortex are constantly tracking our internal signals to keep our body functioning properly and to notify us when something changes.


Image taken from Difference Between


The interoception brain nextwork serves a homeostatic purpose (the process the body uses to maintain balance). It integrates both internal and external signals to guide the regulation of our body. Interoceptors are internal sensors that provide a sense of what our internal organs are feeling.

Interoception is also associated with autonomic motor control. It creates distinct feelings from the body including pain, temperature, itch, muscular and visceral sensations, heart rate, respiration, thirst, elimination, hunger, and the need for air.


More recent studies have elaborated on the importance of the insula when it comes to subjective feelings and ones’ emotional awareness. The posterior portion of the insula connects easily with the limbic system and the amygdala, which is known for its role in the perception of anger and fear. The amygdala also imprints memories of traumatic events. Hence, the insula has an important role in pain experience and the experience of a number of basic emotions, including anger, fear, disgust, happiness, and sadness.


Given all these, we can see how interoception is a complex interplay between the brain and other organs necessary to monitor and regulate our internal states.


About Interoception

BENEFITS OF TEACHING INTEROCEPTION

  • greater noticing, curiosity, and awareness of one’s body states

  • identifying physiological changes that in turn affect one’s self-regulation

  • having the capacity to identify and name a change in their body state

  • be able to locate where in the body those changes are happening

  • increase in prosocial behaviors because of the ability to understand how others are experiencing things

  • help manage tension, anxiety and stress

  • diffuse triggers before they can be overwhelming

  • promote care and empathy not just with others but more so with one’s self

  • better understand their regulated and dysregulated states

  • learn more about how to “relax our nervous system”


Use the following worksheets to explore interoception.


Interoception
.pdf
Download PDF • 189KB


 


UPCOMING EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES


1. JOIN OUR FREE MONTHLY ND COMMUNITY GATHERINGS

We are hosting monthly community gatherings. Our wish for these sessions is to start getting to know each other and to understand how best we can support the ND movement and community. Do join us on September 29 from 12noon- 13:00 CEST! Register and secure your spot here.


2. A NEW LEARNING JOURNEY FOR PARENTS: FOSTERING A CULTURE OF EMPATHY

How might we foster a culture of empathy at home where we can see, acknowledge and connect with each other beyond our differences?


This is a 3-part learning series where we will unpack:

Session 1: What is empathy and what are empathy blockers? (SEPT 2)

In this session, we will unpack what empathy means and why it is important. We will also cover the different empathy blockers that instantly promote disconnection.


Session 2: The importance of recognizing our feelings and needs (SEPT 9)

In this session, we will tackle the importance of having the language to define our feelings and needs and how this can help us connect with others.


Session 3: Hearing the beauty behind the "No" (SEPT 30)

In this session, we will explore the 4 chairs and how using empathy and compassion for ourselves and for the other can help navigate tension and conflict at home.


In this learning series, we will focus on how nonviolent communication (from the work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg) can support parents in fostering a culture of empathy at home. Nonviolent Communication or Compassionate Communication is a form of interpersonal communication inspired by compassion and solidarity. It helps to improve relations and to act with practical and effective means to promote peace.


This DONATE WHAT YOU CAN workshop is a 3 part learning journey. Please do sign up here only when you can commit to all sessions.

DATES: September 2 & 9, and 30 from 9:30-11:00AM CET


3. LEARNING LAB: WHAT'S ALIVE IN YOU?

"...safety is the foundation upon which children build the many skills of emotional and behavioural self-control.' -Dr. Stephen Porges


We are all wired to connect, to feel, and to sense into what is "alive" in us. Our ability to understand our emotions is an important life skill. Evenmore important is knowing how we can regulate our emotions and co-regulate with others around us. Self-regulation and co-regulation are part of the developmental process. Co-regulation is different at different phases of child development. Children's capacity for self-regulation grows over time and are dependent on predictable, responsive, and supportive environments.


As we learn to balance and calm our internal sensory systems we are able to:

  • have better physical and mental health

  • appropriately respond to stress, challenges and conflicts

  • nurture and sustain relationships

  • use restorative practices for ourselves and encourage others to do the same

In this learning lab, we will explore the importance of emotional regulation and co-regulation. Do join us for this learning lab. Register your spot here.


SUPPORT OUR ADVOCACY

We are able to provide these resources, tools and learning sessions through voluntary work. For individuals with expendable income, donations are welcome and can support us in providing our work to more parents, educators, organizations and communities specially for marginalized sectors. If you are interested in bringing Neurodiversity Awareness and Advocacy to your schools, companies or organizations please do contact us directly.

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