As a somatic practitioner, I’m especially interested in how you perceive yourself and the world around you. As someone also specialising in recovery from trauma and addiction, I believe the extent to which we experience our senses and sensations has direct bearing on our ability to heal and grow. According to trauma expert Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk, “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change . . . is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.” Dr. Eugene Gendlin also believes we change when we have a “felt sense” of something, together with the support of a companion (what Dr. Alice Miller would call an “enlightened witness”).
This brings me to a fascinating BBC podcast recommended by my therapist that I’m very happy to share. The Uncommon Senses is presented by philosopher Barry Smith and sound artist Nick Ryan, offering a journey into the human multi-sensory experience. As someone with sensitivity beyond the average, I’ve been utterly fascinated to learn more about we instinctively know and neuroscientists are now “proving” to be true.
Beyond the accepted “Big Five” ones we all recognise:
- Sight / vision
- Heading / audition
- Smell / olfaction
- Taste / gustation
- Touch / tactition
there are many, many more.
You may have already heard about proprioception (the body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location) and interoception (the perception of sensations from inside the body). There’s also thermoception (sense of temperature) and nociception (pain) – at the risk of sending you into a spin – how about sense of colour, mood, gravity, wind pressure, hunger, spiritual distress, friendship, psychic ability….and I could continue, some believe we have as many as 53 at our disposal. (More below).
In the therapeutic-coaching work I love, my focus is on helping clients sense in to what’s happening inside and around, getting to know themselves more deeply and compassionately. This brings both relief and a new way through whatever in their past is getting in the way of where they want to go. If this is intriguing, do get in touch to see if this work is suitable for you and your concerns.
David Robson offers an article in The Guardian exploring the growing evidence that signals sent from our internal organs to the brain play a major role in regulating emotions and fending off anxiety and depression
Claris Francis’s article for the Sensory Trust