How are you right now? How are you feeling in your body at this moment? Are there any sticky spots – any sweet spots? Is your breath shallow or deep? How does your jaw feel?

Is it easy or difficult to listen to your body in this way?

When we speak of ‘listening to your body’ or ‘going with your guts’, we’re usually referring to a concept known scientifically as interoception. A delicious blend of the words ‘internal’ and ‘reception’, interoception is the inner sense connecting our bodies and minds.

I learnt about interoception from scholar/activist and somatic movement therapist, Dr Rae Johnson, who describes it simply as ‘an awareness of what’s going on inside the body’. It might be simply noticing your breath or heart rate, sensing where your last meal is sitting in your belly, or feeling internal sensations of temperature, pressure and pain.

Interoception is an important tool for helping us make sense of, and respond to, our experiences, but for some people, it can be complicated. There are plenty of reasons why people may not have good access to the felt experience of their body, and why advice to ‘trust your gut’ might be difficult to interpret.

Somatic or mind-body coaching works with a variety of perception practices so that anyone, regardless of history or ability, can be invited to cultivate a greater awareness of their body.

We can work with proprioception which includes noticing the body in motion and parts of the body in relation to other parts. Proprioception also considers the energy or effort required to perform an action, such as in the difference between walking and running.

There’s also exteroception, when we notice sensations coming from outside the body. This information comes from the 5 senses and can include the feeling of a breeze on your cheeks or a pet’s fur between your fingers. Exteroception practices can be excellent grounding and orienting tools for when you’re feeling anxious or ‘spacey’.

Finally, there’s intercorporeality, which is my favourite not least for the triumph experienced after saying it out loud. Intercorporeality deals with our awareness of other bodies, and the connections and spaces between us.

Cultivating somatic awareness – that is, learning to listen to your body – is a process akin to creative practice. Just as your artistic expression unfolds and evolves with time, so too will your connection with your body. If we learn to embrace the dance of discovery and nurture this inner dialogue, the results can be transformative and inspiring.

When I’m in session with you, I’m always looking for the spaces you feel most comfortable to explore. We’ll do our best work, and always end a session, where you feel safe and supported.

Choice follows awareness … Cultivating our awareness is the cornerstone for an awakened, robust life.

Richard Strozzi-Heckler