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Massage and Qigong, along with other approaches such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, breathing techniques, tai chi or the Feldenkreis method are very effective means of cultivating awareness of one's own body. This plays an important role in recognizing and controlling one's emotions, maintaining health, improving social skills and empathy, and last but not least, helping to prevent burnout. People who are addicted to narcotic substances, suffer from depression or autism have proven to have a limited perception of signals from their own body.
If in the last century the IQ of an individual and his emotional intelligence were dealt with and self-observation was viewed rather negatively, now the essential field of research is precisely the ability to perceive one's body from the inside, i.e. interoception. Interoception is the process in which the nervous system perceives, interprets, and integrates signals from the body, to provide a mapping of the landscape within the body across conscious and subconscious levels. Thanks to the receptors in the bones, muscles, blood vessels, internal organs and skin, we can become aware of our body and expand our inner consciousness. This is the way to better understand our own true nature and each other interpersonally. Being integrated and in coherence with other beings, this brings huge and true freedom on a path to a fulfilled and satisfied life.
Nowadays, only strong signals of pain or fatigue reach our consciousness. However, listening to the gentle whisper of interoception needs more time, space and quiet. The ability to perceive oneself from the inside arises in the first years of life from contact with the mother during breastfeeding and cuddling. But the best thing is that thanks to the plasticity of the brain, the ability can be rediscovered using the methods and techniques already mentioned. It is not surprising that at a time of touch poverty and covid pandemic in the background, the study of human touch as a means to improve the quality of life is at the forefront. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami proves that when premature babies were massaged regularly, their weight increased by 47% compared to a control group that did not receive massage. Other studies prove the positive effect of massage on the immune system and especially on the mind, when it reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
So the next time you stretch out on a massage chair or futon with the intention of taking a nap, soak your mind into your body like a sponge soaks up water! Without effort. No judgement.