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Interoception, the Eighth Sense

It is been a long way since science consider just the five traditional senses. To update some, I would like to go very quick over three more senses considered by scientists as pieces of the whole perception. The sixth sense is considered the Vestibular Sense, this will determine the relation of body and gravity. The seventh sense is known as proprioception, which is the sense of movement and control of the muscle-skeletal system. Finally this article is about the eighth sense, the Interoception.

Interoception has been a revelation to me. To observe the internal perception processes on my own body has opened a door never to be closed again. I have taken the red pill and have had a glance of the matrix function. Shanti Shanti Kaur PHD., executive director of Guru Ram Das Center, For Medicine and Humanology, talks about interoception as the own experience of sensations and awareness of the own body; as the sense providing information about the internal condition of the body; and as the assistant on the urge to action and emotional management. Since then, I have been hooked to my own internal observation which has taken me to a deeper level of my own practice as a yogini, and pointed a direction for a better management of my own emotions as a human being.

So far I am not a patient and just knowing about the interoception has shaked my understructure. I can only imagine to help real patients to direct their attention to the internal awareness and its development. Results are amazing according to Kelly Mahler on Interoception, The Eighth Sensory System. Their work with special needs people, particularly with autistic children, has revealed excellent results.

Facts are when you bring your attention, your awareness to the internal perception of the physical sensations, you become conscious, at an early stage, about the variations or changes in relation to, let’s say, an emotion. So it gives you the chance to regulate or manage, not only that emotion, but also the entire mind-body response. This is a big deal for a regular person, but if on top of everyday challenge, there is a trauma, addiction, emotional impairment or any other condition, to bring the internal perception to a conscious level will definitely improve the quality of life, giving a definite advantage to engage with daily demands and on-going regulatory adjustments, and so, adapt to maintain well-being.

Marlysa Sullivan expone on her book Understanding Yoga Therapy how the application of yoga principles can help improve the interoceptive awareness. She proposes a backward observational process with the patient/student to “consider underlying feelings, systemic activations, and ultimately interoceptive and exteroceptive input. Eventually the client is able to identify and discern stimuli that shape their feelings, emotions, and actions.” The goal of the process is to become aware of the signals and use yoga techniques to regulate and manage the reactions and forward response. Yoga principles like observation, non-judgement, pranayama, ahimsa, and meditation are very useful and can be applied to change reactions and lead to a successful management of responses, decrease pain and improve outcome quality.

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