When trauma occurs one of the things that can happen to us is that we lose touch with our bodily senses. Many parts of the brain that are associated with body awareness, what is called the default mode network, becomes diminished as a result of trauma.
When this occurs our intuitive senses, gut feelings and bodily sensations such as needing to urinate or feeling full are no longer easy to feel. Enough dissociations in response to trauma and numbing our senses as a coping mechanism can cause us to be living outside of our bodies.
In his book, ‘The Body Keeps the Score,’ author Bessel van der Kolk did an experiment with his patients who suffered from PTSD. He asked them to hold objects in their hands without seeing what they were and asked them to identify the objects. The majority of the clients were unable to identify what they were holding in their hands without seeing them. This experiment highlights the disconnection that is created between the brain and the body post trauma.
But it is possible to heal through trauma recovery work; regulating the nervous system, somatic practices and slowly tracking and becoming aware of when these sensations arise and listening to them as they do.
In order to get you started I’ve created a downloadable tracking sheet for everyday bodily sensations (access below). You can keep track of how often throughout the week you are noticing them, ignoring them and responding to them. This will give you a good idea of how in tune you are with your body and if it turns out that you aren’t, tracking these sensations will help you to become more in tune with your body over time where you will be able to better feel your body’s cues.
Each sensation has a space for each day of the week. If you feel and respond to a sensation you will mark it with a *. If you feel but ignore the sensation you will mark it with a X. If you don’t feel the sensation at all you will mark it with ~.
Please note that ‘thermoception cold’ is not feeling the sensation of cold weather and ‘thermoception hot’ is not feeling the sensation of being hot.
If you download and track your sensations I would love to hear how it’s going for you. Leave a comment here or send any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org