The Nature of Sensation

We are amazing.

Remarkable.

Walking, talking, loving, feeling, giving works of biological art.

That is a neuron (thanks to Anatomy in Motion, http://www.mografi.com/anatomyinmotion/). Truly a thing of beauty.

Briefly and very simply because that is my level of expertise with neuroscience, neurons are the basic components of nervous tissue. The picture shows a typical motor neuron with a cell body, dendrites (which conduct electrical impulses toward the cell body) and axons (which carry electrical impulses away from the cell body). Neurons are specialized according to how they communicate and with what they communicate. I’m only sharing three!

Sensory or afferent neurons carry impulses from sensory receptors in the skin or internal organs. The cell bodies of sensory neurons are found in the peripheral nervous system/PNS. The PNS consists of nervous tissue outside of the central nervous system/CNS which consists of brain and spinal cord.

Motor or efferent neurons carry impulses from the CNS to body muscles and glands. Cell bodies of motor neurons are found in the central nervous system.

Finally, association neurons or interneurons connect sensory and motor neurons.

Ok, so sensory neurons carry messages from skin and organs to the CNS. I just touched something.

The interneurons “fire” and

Motor neurons carry messages from the CNS to the body. It’s hot and I pull my hand away.

I may get a blister, but sensation – this dance of electrical stimulation works to insure that I don’t lose the use of my hand or my hand entirely due to burn injury.

My point: Sensation is built in.

Sensation is designed into our biology to give us continuous, up-to-the-minute data concerning our well being as well as to protect us. It functions on different levels. If the sight of fire doesn’t bring with it the sensation that accompanies fear, then the sensory receptors on our skin will message our CNS. If our general awareness and awareness of body sensation is sluggish and we actually contact the source of heat, our interneurons tell our motor neurons to fire and our muscles contract to get us away from harm.

How cool are we?!?! Ridiculously cool – yea.

So why do we work so hard to disconnect, dishonor and short circuit this elegant and extremely efficient system of communication?

Here’s the place where I might venture into how we think we’re superior to nature and how we walk in denial of the potential for self inflicted damage and harm. We make choices that put material gain above trust, safety, health and even life and limb. Not only do we make these choices for ourselves but we make these choices for our children and we pressure those around us to do the same. When we live in such disconnection it causes ripples effecting not only everyone around us but everything around us as well. When we fail to care for our own bodies, why would we care for anyone else or the very planet on which we live and make our home?

I’m not going to, though. I would rather consider how the alternative is sooooo much better. How better to step into every day than by taking care of ourselves by learning to receive the information our bodies transmit? Then we have a choice. What are we going to do with the information?

Tweak. Shift. Adjust. Change.

Stop. Listen. Eat. Rest. Love. Release. Show up. Say No. Say Yes. Open. Explore. Commit.

Based on the natural language of the body – every body.

For more on Sensation, click on the For You tab and open Body for my Sensation Vocabulary. It’s not quite ready for download, but you’re welcome to copy and paste if it pleases you!

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