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Words for Body Sensations

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

The practice of attuning to our bodies is a journey so unique to each of us. As we use bodywork or mindfulness to come to know our felt sense, or internal bodily awareness, we may explore interesting realms of sensation rarely or never before experienced.

Sometimes these new sensations we naturally associate with descriptive vocabulary -- or "touchy-feely" words. We also might need a little help connecting our felt experiences with words. That's okay! Ultimately, using language to describe our experiences helps us emotionally and mentally process what is going on internally, strengthens a healthy bond with our bodies, helps us pick up on our own somatic patterns and cues, and conveys our sensations to bodyworkers and therapists.

If you've ever felt like a bodily ache is more textured than the word "painful", that it has more depth and fullness; if your fatigued body was something more than just "tired"; if your nerves are more than "shaken"; if the lightness of joy is more special than "happy" -- this post is for you.

The following is a collection of touchy-feely words. These are great to read over and keep in mind for when a new body feeling arises, or to journal and reflect on in the context of your body. Hopefully, an expanding somatic vocabulary can help bring you closer with yourself, and perhaps some creative comfort.


Close your eyes, or lower your gaze.Take a deep breath. Fill your belly up with air, let the shoulders rise as you expand, and then fully exhale -- either through the open mouth, or through the nose with slight throat constriction. You can do a few of these breaths until you begin to feel a bit more calm, steady and grounded, in tune with your body.

Let a body sensation naturally come up. Have patience here and allow time for yourself to listen in. If something comes to you, it might be a certain recurring ache, or a new tingling, or a familiar sense of feeling. When you notice something, take another deep breath, and steady the exhale into that feeling.

Do this a few times. Maybe you can breathe into a place of this feeling, as in an identifiable area of your body. If there is a place -- perhaps your hand can rest on it and make contact. Maybe the feeling floats throughout you and is found everywhere. There is no right or wrong. As you bring your focus to this feeling, notice if there are words or phrases that come up -- a guitar string...heavy...glassy...warm.

Can you visualize what these words mean in your body? (It's okay if the words are descriptive enough.) Is there space or compression where these words are found? What colors are they? Is there an action, like bending, or twisting?

Keep breathing. Nice and easy, steady into your chest, ribs, belly...out through the belly, ribs, and chest. Breathe, again, and again. Open your eyes or lift your gaze -- sit with the connection you just found in yourself.

This is a great exercise for when you are craving self-comfort, self-exploration, or self-regulation.


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