On the Felt Sense
I have just returned from 24 days in the Spanish mountains with Kia. I was a student for 12 of those days, and an assistant (which really is another form of study) for another 12. After that, I went to visit my family in the north for another 10 days. I needed that long break not to disconnect, but to connect.
During the retreat, Kia made us work on our felt sense, the gateway to our autonomy as practitioners. The technical name for this felt sense is interoception, and it seems to be gaining some traction in modern research. Yet, in general, the felt sense is undermined in culture, including in yoga rooms, in favour of expertise, the thinking mind and traditional, theoretical forms of knowledge. If we listen inside and give time, we know too. We know what is good for us, we know how to take care of ourselves but due to outside pressures and convenience, we override this gut instinct so much that its voice turns feeble. There are consequences to neglecting this felt sense. Sometimes it can end in injury but, even if the worst does not happen, a disconnect within you will manifest. You are really ignoring a part of yourself, after all.
The only way to reactivate this felt sense we have lost is by listening. But not just simple listening: one has to listen with full awareness and without judgement. In psychoanalysis this is called evenly-hovering-attention. The faintest impulse is as important as the big pang; the warm fuzzy feeling is as significant as the one we want to turn away from. As Kia said to us: it all belongs.
It is only by listening, allowing in and making all of ourselves belong, that we can make friends with what we don’t like and transform. And it all starts with cultivating the felt sense.