As a therapist I sometimes ask a patient where in their body they feel an emotion. By identifying the feeling in one’s body we can sometimes get more connected to ourselves. The experience can be both grounding and validating. Several studies have come out recently proving that there is some universality as to how and where in the body humans experience emotion.
A recent blog by Michaeleen Doucleff from NPR states, “When a team of scientists in Finland asked people to map out where they felt different emotions in their bodies, they found that the results were surprisingly consistent, even across cultures. People reported that happiness and love sparked activity across the entire body, while depression had the opposite effect: It dampened feelings in the arms, legs, head. Danger and fear triggered strong sensations in the chest area, volunteers said. And anger was one of the emotions that activated the arms. The scientists hope these body emoticons may one day help psychologists diagnose or treat mood disorders.” The study was led by Lauri Nummenmaa, a psychologist at Aalto University who led the study.
The images for what this looks like are pretty amazing. I personally am less interested in the diagnostic element and more interested in helping individuals get and stay connected to themselves. Exploring and staying with emotions can be difficult for many people. I appreciate any tools that help make the process easier.