In this 10 minute exercise Elizabeth, a certified intuitive eating counselor, will walk you through what it means to tune into yourself. Feel free to get a pen and paper to respond to the journaling prompts during the exercise.
Grab your headphones and follow along with this audio
What does it mean to be in tune with ourselves?
What we’re really talking about when talking about being in tune with ourselves is this idea of attunement – to bring about harmony or a sympathetic relationship. Being in attunement is this place of peace. It’s this place of harmony between the mind and the body.
The way that we get to a place where we are living in more of attunement is through interoception.
Interception is the ability to perceive internal bodily state and it is the perception of sensations from within the body.
It includes perception of physical sensations related to internal organ functions and the autonomic nervous system activity related to emotions. Much of these perceptions remain unconscious, and what becomes conscious is the process of having interoceptive awareness.
When we process those inner sensations so that they become available in the conscious awareness, we can then interpret and respond appropriately and achieve that harmony between mind and body.
Your body talks to you.
How do we know that?
Nausea, stomach cramping, stomach grumbling, itching, shivering, laughing, crying, craving – these are all ways the body attempts to communicate with us and the brain works to interpret.
In interoceptive awareness, bringing the unconscious to the conscious is:
- If I’m shivering, that means I’m cold
- If I’m hyperventilating, that might mean I’m anxious
- If my heart is racing, I could be scared
- If my stomach’s growling I know that I’m hungry.
- If I’m having cravings, I know that there might be some unmet biological needs
We really are born connected.
We are born with sensations and the inherent internal wisdom to connect to those sensations. For example, if I have pressure on my bladder, I am able to interpret that sensation and I use the restroom. If I’m having a growling in my stomach, I’m able to interpret the sensation and then pursue getting nourishment.
We know this because babies automatically know to cry when they need something. They’re not able to communicate and advocate for their needs on their own. Moms will know what their baby needs, because they can interpret just the tone or the pitch or the pace of the crying.
Our minds and bodies can become disconnected.
When someone has been disconnected from the body or is in a space of really hating their body, we are by default, not in a space where we are listening to the body. So the sensations become disconnected and they no longer lead to responsivity because there’s been a brokenness of trust. Now with this lack of body awareness, we are moving away from responsivity and into rigid thought control of the body.
Interoceptive awareness, our ability to perceive internal states, can be influenced by beliefs or even experiences. Being told that you can’t trust your hunger cues or being blamed for trusting your hunger and then ignoring our hunger. We end up losing touch with our hunger. Ultimately, both connection and trust become severed.
Getting back into pursuing a higher level of connection through interoceptive awareness allows us to restore attunement and tune into yourselves.
To do this, we work on shifting the decisions away from thinking and moving towards the experience of feeling.
Bringing what has been unconscious or ignored back into consciousness, being able to identify a feeling or sensation and then respond to it. We may have to unlearn distortion in thought based on past beliefs.
If you’ve been taught to try drinking a glass of water when you’re hungry, that is like saying, “Hey, if you think you have to pee, just try chewing gum first to see if it goes away.”
Hunger cues and thirst cues are totally different experiences, but we’re taught to ignore the sensation of being hungry, bring in the thought that water will satisfy me, and your bodies need doesn’t get met.
Working to improve your interoceptive awareness to pursue this new place of attunement starts with decoupling the sensation or the feeling from the thought experience. Your current thoughts around hunger could be things like:
- “I shouldn’t be eating this much”
- “I can’t have this, if I’ve already had that”
- “I need to make sure I worked out because I had this in that too”
Now the thoughts become, “How does my body feel?” or “What does my body need?”
Allowing ourselves space in pursuing attunement means going on this journey of reconciling the relationship between mind and body. This starts with challenging thoughts and beliefs and giving yourself permission to say how I feel right now is okay.
So take a moment to tune it. This is where you might want a pen or pencil.
I’m gonna ask you some questions about sensations you experience. I want you to think about what comes to mind and what you identify.
Think about how does sleepiness feel?
How do I know I’m sleepy? Where do I feel that?
How does fear feel? Where do you feel fear?
Is it the thoughts you have, a sensation in your gut, heaviness of your chest?
How does hunger feel?
Is it a gnawing, maybe a slight headache, or I’m just thinking a lot about food? If I start thinking about food, my mouth starts watering in response?
How does fullness feel?
What’s the difference in pressure from when I’m comfortable and when I’m uncomfortable?
Can I think of those sensations and how I know that I’m overly full while it’s unpleasant? What does that feel like?
How does guilt feel?
Where do you feel guilt?
What is it like to feel guilt in the presence of hunger or in the presence of fullness?
When we have moments where something feels unpleasant, especially with food or our bodies, we’re quick to check out of that feeling because it’s uncomfortable. But if you can sit with that feeling and think about:
- Why don’t I feel good?
- What doesn’t feel good.
- What could I do differently – having less of it, incorporating something with it, or maybe even just slowing down your pace of eating it
Rebuilding trust and restoring that awareness to the responsivity and attunement. Having the body trust, having the body connection is the key so we have to know how our body feels to then make body-aligned decisions. When you work to reestablish that connection, the listening, the responding in your body, it can then safely know, “Hey, I know it’s safe to trust her again.”
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Elizabeth is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, cheeseburger connoisseur and Jesus lover! She received her B.S. in Nutrition from Samford University and is passionate about helping women live their life to the fullest without being a prisoner to diet culture and unrealistic body ideals.
After moving through her own journey to food and body freedom, Elizabeth knew helping women find this same peace would be the work she’d want to do forever. Considering herself to simply be a mediator between the mind and body, she specializes in helping women improve their relationship with food and movement. She also works to support the reconciliation of body image challenges, as it is a common challenge for many women.
Elizabeth currently works as a nutrition coach with Flourish. Flourish provides nutrition, body image, and confidence coaching for women looking to find peace in their relationship with food and body. Learn more about Flourish and schedule your first session with a coach.