Felt Sense Exercise

The “felt sense” is a bodily awareness of the experience and sensations around us.

In the process of healing trauma, we focus on the felt sense. Observing both closely and from a distance, we can find information about how to undo the trauma.

The following is an exercise that will begin to give you a basic, experiential understanding of the felt sense.  Wherever you are as you read this, make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you can’t get comfortable, that’s okay. You can still be an observer of the self, staying with it if tolerable, and noting if there is a shift or change as you’re observing.

Exercise

Feel the way your body makes contact with the surface that is supporting you.

Sense into your skin and notice the way your clothes feel. Are they soft? Warm?

Sense underneath your skin – what sensations are there? Do you feel tingly?

Now, gently remembering these sensations, how do you know that you feel comfortable?

What physical sensations contribute to the overall feeling of comfort?

Does becoming more aware of these sensations make you feel more or less comfortable? Does this change over time?

Sit for a moment and enjoy the felt sense of feeling comfortable.

Good!


There may be a lack of sensation, in which case just move on to a different area.

People that have been traumatized can take a longer time to find varied sensations, and sitting with whatever comes up is just as important. Let it move through—allow it to shift.

Being consciously aware of your body and its sensations makes any experience more intense.  It is important to recognize that the experience of comfort comes from your felt sense of comfort and not from the chair, the sofa, or whatever surface you are sitting on.  As a visit to any furniture store will soon reveal, you can’t know that a chair is comfortable until you sit on it and get a bodily sense of what it feels like.

The felt sense blends together most of the information that forms your experience.  Even when you are not consciously aware of it, the felt sense is telling you where you are and how you feel at any given moment.  It is relaying the overall experience of the organism, rather than interpreting what is happening from the standpoint of the individual parts.  Perhaps the best way to describe the felt sense is to say that it is the experience of being in a living body that understands the nuance of its environment by way of its responses to that environment.