Interoception: The Return Of Sensation (Part Two) | Yoga 15

Abi Carver
7 min readFeb 18, 2020

In 1884, psychologist William James shared his pioneering discovery that emotions are expressed in the body as well as in the mind. And for the first time since Descartes’ erroneous separation of mind and body, we understood that thoughts and feelings exist side by side.

In part two of this article, I’m going to show you how turning the dial back up on our interoceptive acuity allows us to lead lives of greater sensation, presence and wellbeing.


“We can’t decide whom we are going to be turned on by any more than we can will a certain flavour of ice cream…to be our favourite.” Alain de Botton

Many of us have had the experience of being nervous before a first date. In the hours preceding, unhelpful thoughts run roughshod through our mind, predicting everything that could go wrong. We’ll say something inappropriate or discover that we’re not quite the right sort of good-looking in the eyes of our desired partner. We might also notice a not entirely pleasant collection of physical sensations-a tightening of the chest, a pounding heart and an inability to stay focused. However unpleasant these sensations, they are rich with crucial information that we ignore at our peril. Butterflies and a racing heart signal that this occasion is important, that we want our date to think highly of us and enjoy spending time in our company. They indicate that we should do what we can to make the date go smoothly. Maybe get an early night in preparation, head to the gym to get in a workout or book in for a soothing head and neck massage to calm our frayed nerves.

Instead of trying to numb out or ignore these powerful sensations, the ninja move is to lean in, get curious about our direct perceptual experience under the layers of analysis, and accept these sensations with compassion. If we can get out of our heads and into our bodies, we’ll find respite from the relentless internal commentary that rarely cheers us on and gives us gentle words of encouragement. Instead of flying off into what-ifs and catastrophic thinking, we’re anchored in the present, watching the unfolding of a beautiful, if terrifying, experience for which we have the best seats in the house. If you can, try to keep tracking the sensations…

Abi Carver

Creator of YOGA 15, Yoga for Athletic Performance and Recovery.