Interoception.

The body is not separate from the mind. We all know this. Think about that sick feeling you get in your stomach before a big meeting or event, or your heart beating faster when you see that guy, gal, or piece of cake you like the look of. Emotional events begin with non-conscious somatic markers (sounds fancy, right?). We know this, but being in tune with this internal conversation is not as easy as you think. So much so that there is a technical term for this skill- interoception. You can think of this as the ability to perceive, but internally. 

Interoception includes all the signals from your internal organs, including your cardiovascular system, your gut, your bladder and your kidneys. There is constant communication between your internal organs, the brain and viscera.

Let's give it a go: if you have a device that reads your heart rate, begin a one min test counting your pulse (without touching yourself (no not that.. ;) just close your eyes and see if you can count the beats) does it matches the reading from your device? Typically people miss at least 15 beats. 

People diagnosed with mental illness show poorer interoceptive awareness. This is described as “depersonalisation” and dissociation. Interoception helps us to form our most basic sense of self. 


There is not a shortage of information discussing the benefits of exercise. But interoception can help us to understand why certain exercise protocols make us feel good. For one thing, regular workouts change the nature of the signals that your brain receives. But if you are deconditioned from a lack of exercise you are more likely to experience symptoms you might associate with anxiety. However, as you get fitter you become more adept at dealing with strain & become more emotionally resilient. 


So after training, you feel that you can cope and may feel more in control of your life. Interoceptive feedback from your muscles can tell you something unconsciously about what you can achieve in the world. So go out there and get it!