7. Perceptions~How you perceive the world!
Overview: There are “special senses” in the bodymind, often contained in the face and head. Perceptions include touch, pressure, vestibular (sense of gravity), taste, smell, sight, (and “energy” radar or extra-sensory). The special senses are nerve functions in the body that register the internal environment (movement, weight, balance, and pressure) and the external. We orient through them in the head using sight, smell, taste, hearing, and vestibular reflexes.
These functions provide a sense of self in relationship to other and world, and to time, space, gravity, and place. Special senses and the accurate perception allow us to feel safe, creative, and responsive. When these are distorted or layered with shock one misperceives. One can close off perception, become hypervigilant, defended, and project emotional states of danger, upset, or incompetence onto others and the world. Finding clear pathways of perception through touch, movement, and the special senses reopens accurate perception and response in life.
There are specific nerves and receptors that support perceptions, and that carry sensory information to the brain. An infant’s first relational development occurs through vibration and sensing. This starts prenatally, with the pressure of fluids, the vibration of sounds, the ability to touch and “push off” the womb. In prenatal psychology, we also see that infants pick up “ancestral history” beliefs and behaviors through a kind of extra-sensory radar and knowing.
The ability to perceive clearly involves freeing the pre-sensory pre-motor pathways that were established based on earlier experiences. Clearing “pre-conceptions” means clearing the limbic brain: the pathways of early survival experience-response beginning with: the amygdala sense of survival, the associative memory of the hippocampus, and the encoded behavior responses of the basal ganglia. Doing so allows sensory perceptions to travel to the higher cortex for new and more present time and appropriate motor responses. Readings: View anatomy books for all visuals of perceptions Research online for specifics and further information
1. Proprioception (touch and pressure)
- Overview: Vaginal birth quickens and awakens the infants ability to know itself through the organization of pressure. Meeting pressure foces of the compression of birth helps to condense and then expand post-birth. This activation of proprioceptive forces is imperative to help establish the connection from the fluid filled womb to the electro-magnetic earth and establish a sense of gravity. Infants first perception is of pressure (need to defecate, urinate, being carried and moved by Mom, temperature, and need for touch. Proprioception can repair interrupted sense of self and ability to orient. BMC practices such as levering through the bones, are essential to re-establish communication flow through the joints and into the bones. Squeezing of children, as in squishy bug games, help them to orient. Giving pressure to adult tissue repairs and enhances ease: doing so while side lying using hands or body weight, exploring the movement art of Contact Improvisation, and playful non-competitive adult wrestling helps us to register weight and pressure.
Proprioception (/ˌproʊpri.ɵˈsɛpʃən/ pro-pree-o-sep-shən), from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own” and perception, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement. It is distinguished from exteroception, by which we perceive the outside world, and interoception, by which we perceive pain, hunger, etc., and the movement of internal organs. (from Wikipedia).
Reading: Anatomy Studies, Read either in books or online:
- Sensory perceptors of joints and muscles
- interoception vs exteroception
- Use pressure to invoke awareness
- Use weight explorations upon different tissues to find active yield within each body system
- Invite clients to take pressure into the core and respond back out from the core
- Feel the pressure of push (with yield underneath…see above) in changing levels: lying to sitting to standing to walking
- Push off the walls and furniture by taking pressure in and finding the “rebound” into movement
- Explore yielding to pressure and then rebounding
- Do push/pull in movement dyads
- Explore contact improvisation with a focus on proprioception
is the 8th sense (the other 7 are sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, proprioception and vestibular) which governs our internal regulation. It is the interoceptive sense that tells us when we are hungry, thirsty or when we feel sick.
3. Taste and Tongue
Overview: There are 5 taste categories on the tongue. They ideally help with survival to distinguish what is safe for the body to ingest, and also what is pleasurable. Locate the movement of the tongue, and the receptors areas. Some say the heart is the root of the tongue. Explore the tongue also as a muscle of orientating and turning the head. Readings: Go online or review in Netter. Observe nerves and blood flow, attachments, and movement options. Observe taste areas: Salty, sweet, sour, bitter, astringent Touch Cues:
- Lie on your back and pull on your tongue and feel how it is connected to the body/throat area
- Touch your mouth area with your tongue. Be specific.
- Taste food in the different taste categories. See if you can feel that part of your tongue?
- Move your tongue from side to side in your mouth. Explore turning your tongue in one direction and your eyes, nose or chin in the opposite.
- Explore Push with the tongue against the roof and floor of the mouth etc, and find the “rebound” into movement. Feel the back pressure of your push down the esophagus into the body.
Readings: Go online or review in Netter. Observe nerves and blood flow, nasal concha, bones, and olfactory bulb. Look at embryological development.
Smell: Cranial Nerve I is an actual extension of the brain rather than a nerve outgrowth. Smell is the most primitive and perceptive associative memory. Smell closely governs taste perception.
Overview: Cranial nerve I is olfactory and is an actual part of the brain, rather than a nerve outgrowth. The olfactory bulb communicates with smaller nerves. Smell engages the most primitive perceptions, and smells can cross the cell membrane for more rapid communication within the body. Essential oils are a more direct healing medium due to this ability of olfactory processing.
- Use breath to invoke awareness of the nose and body
- Breath into upper, middle, and lower nasal concha separately and then sequentially
- Touch your hand with your nose. Use both smell and touch to investigate hand.
- Find “reach and widen” with the nose
- Use your nose to turn your face/head.
- Measure distance with your nose to your hand lying prone. infants measure with the nose to find the breast
- Explore movements of spine when breathing up into the brain and expanding the lungs
5. Auditory and Vestibular (relationship to gravity and weight shift)
Anatomy of the ear.
From Conception to Crawling: Spatial Planes pg
Overview: Hearing and sensing weight shifts are functions of the inner ear. Perceiving through sound and weight shift are built into the anatomical design. Learn the anatomy of the ear related to hearing and the anatomy of the ear related to gravity.
Hearing (& Listening: perceiving sound and processing sound are different actions. Some people can hear, yet not listen. Opening the connection between auditory perception and processing is essential for relating.
Weight Shift and Balance: Otoliths of the ears are tiny stones that brush against nerve hairs and perceive shifts in balance. They organize spatial presence. Otoliths reside in the ear canals. They fall toward gravity when we change our head orientation. They hit little nerves which translate this to the brain. Observe the spatial planes of the ear canals!
Add these explorations of embodiment to develop a felt-sense of these perceptions and bring them to consciousness.
- Massage your ear lobes. Pull gently and “feel” down into the ear.
- Play different styles of music. Notice how your ears respond.
- Cup and remove your hands over your ears rapidly. Pause and digest
- Brain as Beanbag: BMC hold with side to side exploration
- Imaginary touch of the inner bones of the ear
- Cellular touch (to tympanic membrane) of ear structures
- Fluid touch and draining of eustachian tubes
- Walk in a figure 8 and feel the otoliths move to orient changes in direction/gravity. Run and do the same.
- Be on all fours and have someone behind you. Reach back through the ears and take the sound down into the tail as you turn and sit.
- Follow someone’s voice with your ears, not eyes. Work through level changes and volume changes.
- Sit on a ball and explore weight shifts and balance; Explore Head righting reactions
Readings: Netter, anatomy of the eyes. See the small muscles (4) that move the eyeballs in their sockets. Observe the nerves and the crossing of nerve fibers in the brain for sight.
Overview: Sight rests upon healthy auditory processing. The crossing of the brain for auditory supports the crossing of the pons for visual scanning. Cranial Nerve II, also an extension of the brain, rather than nerve outgrowth. Clear sightedness involves both the ability to process light and information as well as release trauma. Hyper-vigilance or dissociation distorts visual perception. Repairing visual emotional processing supports clear sightedness.
The perception of light and translating this into sight is a complex process. Learn the anatomy of the eye, practice the movements of the eye, and see if you can change your capacity for perception via sight.
Trace the nerve pathways in the brain. See if you can feel these pathways. Learn how the four perceptual quadrants of the eye take information and flip it in order to see “right side up.” Ability to scan is imperative for survival. However, early trauma encodes in the visual perceptions and can exhaust one if not processed and freed. Over-vigilance through the eyes is a patterned shock response; one can be both overly vigilant or dissociated through the eyes:explore how vigilance works, and what it does to the felt sense of safety.
- Explore the tone of your sight. Go to High tone eyes, and low tone eyes
- See if you can send energy through your eyes and also receive energy. Find the balance
- Explore your eye sockets through touch. Find cellular breath through the eyes
- Rub your hands together to warm them and cup the eyes
- Find the eyeballs as awakened fat
- bring cellular touch support to your eyes
- Roll your eyes in their sockets like marbles
- Focus near/far while moving through the room
- Widen to your peripheral sight while moving
- Narrow to your focused sight while moving
- Eyes: Too hard/ too soft game
- Yoga eye exercises
- Distortion and imagination game
(notes from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen). Being centered and clear is supported through Cranial Nerve 0 . This nerve disappeared from the literature but was established early on in texts. It runs parallel and medial to Cranial Nerve I (smell) and takes one into the center of the head. It opens perception to horizontal, above and below.
“Radar” or “Energy Medicine” Perception
Energetic Sensitivity: Perceiving energy is a supportive heightened awareness (when integrated). It appears as a special radar in the hands or in the peripheral field. It can be highly misused and induce fear and projection or used in support of healing and awareness.
This special sense must be explored as a carry over of body overwhelm and shock. However, it also has a great use. One knows when people have the “gift of touch” or special sight. When perceptions become overwhelmed, one often leaves the body and “scans” the larger energy fields. This can be a great skill to have once the “shock” pattern is released. It is then known more accurately as “energy medicine,” clairvoyant perception, hands on healing, etc.
Practicing clearing the shock allows this skill to become more refined. Using it with shock can be misleading and cause one to feel “authentic” in perception and behavior because the emotional and endocrine body is on high alert.” Find the balance in the nervous system and explore again.
- Repairing tactile defensiveness
- Skin brushing
- Perception and integration
- Movement Cues:
- Rub hands and feel aura
- Contact boundary game
- Layers of the aura
Use hands, eyes, special senses to perceive in non-ordinary ways. Imagine you had “special sense” and could feel, see, etc. Touch objects and see if you can feel their energy.
1. rub your hands together. Hold them in front of you, palms facing each other, and see if you can feel the energy between your hands. Bring your hands further apart and closer together to explore.
2. Scan someone’s body (or a pets) holding your hands a few inches away. Can you feel changes in temperature, or energy?
3. Extraordinary perceptions: can you smell the energy of a space, a room, a place. Can you see the aura of a person, animal, tree. Practice allowing your eyes to focus on a different dimension. Notice if this is familiar or unusual. Notice if it brings up any shock patterns. What happens with your breath.
This perceptions exploration enhances one’s sense of self in the world. Practices open neural pathways, and increase balance and vibration in the tissues. Explore the living anatomy of perceptions using both movement and touch. Continue your learning and explorations to include all body energies. Once you know how to perceive, and engage the “mind” of the perceptions, you can be in full relationship with yourself and your world. Great thanks to Master Teacher, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, founder of Body-Mind Centering, and to Rick Stevens and Petey (former owners of Heartsong School of Energy Medicine of Berkely, CA 1978-82).