We are all familiar with processing external information using the five senses, but in this embodied work, we use the sixth sense of proprioception to help us access internal information from the body rather than external information from the world. In simple terms, think about turning all of your senses; eyes, ears, smell, taste, and touch, inwardly to navigate movement.
Proprioception is our ability to sense where our bodies are in space, and what is going on within them. When we use this sense, we feel our movements and boundaries, and allow awareness to sink into our connective tissue so that over time we realize the sensation of moving from the inside out. Instead of thinking we are “doing” a movement we rather get so entranced and present at the same time that we feel we are the movement.. When we employ proprioception and somatic movement, we have the possibility to enter the realm of embodied transformation.
It is important to note that when we are sensing from the inside out, we are tapping into a completely different part of the brain than we typically use in our normal routines. Daily circumstances require that we plan practically and think critically in order to make rational decisions and execute complicated tasks. This work requires that we lean heavily on the section of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. From an evolutionary perspective, this is the newest part of the brain (and the least developed in early humans and animals). It is located across the front of our brains, close to the forehead. We developed this part of the brain in response to the need to modify social behavior, plan and execute complex activities, and analyze rationally. This part of the brain is command central for our executive functioning. The cerebral cortex is obviously critical to many modern human advancements as well as personal endeavors in work and life.
If we are to employ embodied transformation, however, we need to not place all of our attention in this part of the brain. Behind the frontal lobe are the motor cortex and somatosensory cortex, responsible for coordinating intentional body movements and receiving sensory data that comes from within the body, respectively. When we are connected to the somatosensory and motor cortices, we can develop our kinesthetic awareness and ability. Thinking rationally gets in the way of this development, as does the activity of the visual cortex, which relies on processing external information.
To increase our proprioception, it is important to slow down and to sense – not to think or interpret – from within. While we may not be used to functioning in this way, it is a skill that can be practiced and honed.