The more I read and study about the nervous system I am convinced of developing my felt sense.
Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma defines the felt sense as being consciously aware your body and its sensations make any experience more intense.
It is the embodiment of your ever-changing sensory, energetic, and emotional landscape as they occur in the body. The felt sense moves your focus from actions and things happening outside in the world to quantities of your present, internal experience.
Being aware of your present moment informs your full experience. There is something magical to notice, feel, and sense what is happening.
There is a time for planned practice and there is a time to experience the sensations in the world. You must be fully engaged and sense how you contact and connect with your environment. How you breathe. When you strain. How you shift unnecessary muscular tension.
The goal is to develop the ability to be in tune with and describe your felt sense, the sensations occurring on subtle and overt levels all across your body.
There is a caution. If or when you feel overwhelmed during the exercise put your awareness on a neutral body part.
Here is my favorite practice:
…after 2-3 minutes, be aware of your whole body as best you can.
Working with your felt sense is part of your personal development because you develop a deeper relationship with yourself.
What is it like being with yourself?
Resourced at The Art of Healing Trauma
In every moment your body is sending you information and your task is to listen. When the messages rise in you, follow them. They are immediate and visceral and unconcerned about your evaluation. They are signals requesting you to take action.
You feel them before you think about it and they fade to the background when you don't act on them. Impulses may be a nose tickle, internal laugh, tears, hunger, head pressure or even heart flutters. Your impulses are always true, accurate, and complete. You will recognize them by how you feel when you act. You may be relieved, satisfied, excited, or giddy. Sometimes the impulses require you to be courageous and vulnerable in this moment.
Every day I feel an impulse and much of the time I override it so I don't look silly or squelch my true feelings all in an effort to be "safe". When I do let the impulse bubble up, I have a burst of energy. It reminds me of who I really am.
When you bust out laughing at a YouTube video, dance in your seat when your favorite song comes on, cry during a documentary, or smile when I friend texts you, you are following your impulse and that comes from your higher self. Honor the impulse by opening your heart, loosen your grip, and being fully open to the present moment.
Now I practice to call when I think of someone, buy two donuts at QuikTrip, and get in bed on time when the impulse rises. I am learning to feel the joy even when I don't know where the impulse may lead me.
How will you follow your impulse?