Mapping Emotions in Your Body

Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.

The emotions that we feel often seem like they are taking over not only our thoughts and minds but also our bodies. Where do you feel anger, or sadness, or love? This fascinating study looks at where people believe they are feeling emotion in their body.

In chapter 2 of Onward, Elena Aguilar shares that “How you feel physically is often a map of how you feel emotionally. One of the first steps in regulating emotions is to identify the physical feelings that indicate there’s a strong emotion present. Managing our emotions may start with befriending our bodies.” In The Onward Workbook, Elena shares an activity that is similar to this study called Where Emotions Live in Your Body. As you visualize your emotions, you will begin to better understand them.

Another way to cultivate body awareness is to practice body scan meditations. Here is a sample meditation that Elena shares here on the Onward website. Incorporate body scan meditations into your practice to better understand your emotions. Your body provides many clues to your emotions. The more you pay attention to it, the more your understanding of emotions will expand. Track your emotional triggers for the week paying attention to where specifically you are feeling the emotion in your body. Use this awareness when you feel the beginnings of your trigger to possibly interrupt the emotion cycle.