Conversations with the "Felt Sense"

Conversations with the “Felt Sense”

Once a client has found that they can stay with the bodily/emotional sensations, we can move into a next experiment:

  • Ask the client to bring something to mind that is difficult, then feel into their bodily and emotional sensations.
  • Once they have found this, tell them that this is their “felt sense”, This is the body communicating with us. We can even refer to the “interoceptive sense”. This is the scientific term for sensations felt within the body. The body communicates with the brain, helping it regulate all sorts of systems (e.g heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose level, and much more). Some of these are accessible to us. Our emotions are a kind of summary of these signals.
  • Now we can explore this more deeply. With the emotional/bodily sensation present in awareness, we can go through a similar process to how we might greet someone when we walk into a room:
  • First we say, “hello” to this part of ourselves, and we just listen. Here, we are simply acknowledging its existence.
  • Next, we say “welcome”. That is, “you are allowed to be here”. If people struggle with this stage, we can let them know that we are only welcoming it in this moment - we’re not agreeing to welcome it throughout time. This is a slightly more open attitude than our prior greeting.
  • Next, we ask it, “what brings you here?” Then we simply listen. Does it want to share anything? Again, we listen in an open way. If it responds, we can engage, or we can just listen.
  • Next we ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Here we are showing that this aspect of ourselves matters to us. We are willing to act in its interests.
  • Now we start to prepare to leave. We say, “Thank you” to it for allowing us to engage with it.
  • Finally, we say, “Good bye”, and maybe, “I will see you again”.

Commentary: Firstly, we are separating “me” from the experience I am having. People can usually do this quite easily, perhaps needing a few small pointers. Once done, we can help them understand that these difficult aspects of our experience are here to help us. Thus, we switch from an adversarial attitude (I want this to go away) to a collaborative one (how can we work together to achieve the best outcome for both of us). This collaboration is psychologically vastly more helpful, and also significantly more likely to actually bring meaningful benefits. There are opportunities to make light of this exercise - how we are being a little schizophrenic, but then point to how this is actually a truer understanding of how we are - experience is made up of many parts.