Sensing Human Dynamics: Unlocking the Hidden Potential in the Field

We are not given a guidebook or instruction manual for human interactions. Most of what we learn comes intuitively without any formal training. Yet, social interactions are some of the most complex dynamics we will ever deal with in our lives. The ability to feel and sense the field gives us a moment to moment guide in how to navigate the challenges of each social interaction. Through opening our hearts, and sensing and feeling the energetic field of an interaction, we have vital information for how to navigate in this world. Our feelings can help us sense and unlock the hidden potential in any interaction. We will build the basis for sensing the field in this article through developing a better understanding of how to relate to our feelings, the truth, our bodies, and human dynamics.

The Power of Feeling

Feelings are not widely understood in our society. Philosopher David Hume said “reason is the slave of passion.” He was speaking to the way in which our thought process and decisions are, on some level, always driven and ruled by what we feel underneath. Our feelings include both feelings we’re aware and conscious of and those we are unaware and unconscious of. With so many layers of feeling that we aren’t fully aware of, there is immense power in understanding what drives our unconscious. Humans have been aware of the gap between the conscious and unconscious for eons. Shamen, oracles, and medicine men and women, as well as psychologists and therapists help us navigate our realms of knowing and knit together our vast identity. They have always used the realm of feeling to help with this.

We are not as rational as we like to think we are. For example, economists build their models on the assumption that human beings are not ‘rational actors’ and factor that in to govern how the economy works. Social scientists have come to understand this principle, as well, when predicting behavior of individuals in various settings. The advertising industry uses these principles to manipulate us into consuming what they want us to consume. Humans don’t follow logical systems. We generally go with what feels right to discern how we move through life. 

The power of feeling can be used to help align us and move us toward health. Our feelings and intuition always want what is best for us. They guide us to the truth of the heart and help us be more honest with ourselves so we can move through life in a more integrated way. 

The notion that we are not rational actors is in fact a fallacy. We have the choice to enter into a new paradigm of freedom and integration between our minds and our hearts where we recognize that decisions are made by the heart and the intuition for our best good, and that living our lives from this place is actually the most rational thing we could do.

The Body Knows the Truth

The human body is the great truth teller. The body cannot lie. Your mind can say, “my shoulders feel relaxed.” But if there’s tension in your shoulders, the body will show it. Just as the mind can say, “I feel okay with this break up I’m having,” while the body holds all of the sensations that the mind does not want to feel. In the book The Body Keeps the Score, author Bessel van der Kolk writes, “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” These lies cause suffering because the body only knows the truth. All of the lies we tell ourselves are stored somewhere in the body. 

Author and physician Gabor Mate’s book, When the Body Says No: The Hidden Cost of Stress, presents case after case of people carrying symptoms in their body, even when their mind has no idea what is occurring. Whatever the body feels will come up as a symptom, even if the mind denies its importance. The way we know the body is through sensations. Sensations are the great messenger. When we are honest with ourselves, our body feels more at ease and we can have a better path to navigating our truth in this world. Honesty is simply good for our overall health. 

Feeling Sensations in our Body

We live in a culture that prioritizes the mind and emotions over the pure sensation of feeling. We often talk about what we’re feeling with emotional stories attached, such as “I feel sadness about breaking up with my partner,” or “I’m angry and anxious about losing my job.” Many of us have lost touch with the actual sensations these emotions are based on. Feelings are sensations we feel right now in the body. Anxiety is not a feeling, it’s a summary label of an emotion to describe the associated sensations. When we say, “I feel a fast moving sensation in the pit of my stomach when I think about not having a job,” – this is a sensation. For some, this distinction is a completely new way to think about feeling and emotion. The benefit of understanding this distinction is that it reconnects us to our actual experience of life and not just our mind-made interpretation and summation of life. 

Thought Verses Feeling Experiment

It’s important to do this exercise with your full attention, to understand the difference between thinking and feeling. Without doing this exercise you may not understand this essential difference.

  1. Focus on a rock, crystal, or small object  near you, but one you are not touching.
  2. Look at the object and get to know it with your thinking.
    1. How was it made or formed? 
    2. What color is it? 
    3. How does it appear?
    4. Is it shiny or dull?
    5. Does it look smooth or rough?
    6. What do you think it will feel like in your hands?
  3. Let your thinking think all about the object and know about it through thinking’s way.
  4. Now, we enter the realm of feeling. Pick the object up in your hands and use your hands to feel it.
  5. Close your eyes and just sense and feel the texture of it, as you run your hand or fingers along its surface. Feel every inch of the object and get to know it through feeling and touch.
  6. Take your time and really get to know this object just by feeling, without seeing it. If you find yourself thinking about it, that’s okay. Simply return to your feeling sensations of the object.
  7. Open your eyes and notice the difference between thinking about the object and feeling it. 
  8. What did you notice?

Did you notice that when you are thinking, you are perceiving primarily in your mind, while when you are feeling you are sensing the object directly through your body? Feeling is a kinesthetic sense, while thinking comes in words and images from the auditory and visual centers of the body. I’m curious if you were able to drop out of your traditional way of thinking as you felt the object. For most of us, our thinking is so strong that even when we focus on sensation it can sometimes be hard to actually feel the sensations.

Feelings are:

  1. Sensations in the moment.
  2. Present right now.
  3. New – It can’t be something you knew from before or you’re not feeling, you’re  actually just remembering and thinking about feeling.
  4. Impossible to conceptualize. You can try but they always elude the concept.
  5. Hard to express in words. Poetry and music are the best ways to express feelings.
  6. Rarely experienced in our society. Unless you are giving birth, present with someone dying, or perhaps making love or having some other peak experience with awareness, you’re probably not feeling. 
  7. An extremely powerful way of knowing and experiencing life. 

Exercise: Take Emotion, Find Feelings 

  1. Think of an emotion you’ve recently experienced. It could be anything, like happiness, anger, grief, joy, or fear, for example. Find where you feel the roots of this emotion centered in your body anywhere between your neck and your buttocks.
  2. What does it feel like? Is it tight or loose? Moving or still? Warm or cool? Sharp or dull? Heavy or light? What are the sensations you experience? How does it really feel?
  3. Notice as you feel the sensations, you are now in touch with the direct felt sense of experience.
  4. Accept all the sensations you have around this.
  5. Return to the original emotion you started with. What do you notice now?
  6. What is different? What is the same?
  7. Give acceptance for all that you are experiencing here. The emotions and sensations all get to be loved equally.

Perceptual Positions 

The Perceptual Positions Practice comes out of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), and is the most effective way I’ve experienced to cultivate our empathy skills. In the Process Coaching work I was a part of for 18 years, we used this tool as a foundation for developing empathy and rapport. 

There are four basic perceptual positions, which line up with the first four parts of speech: 

  1. First position is the “I” or self position. In the first position, you are looking out through your body and experiencing life largely as you typically experience it. 
  2. The second position is the “you” or other position. In the second position, we are empathetically feeling the other person’s experience. 
  3. Third position, “he/she/they,” is the observer position. In the third position we are the observer. We are like a fly on the wall watching the whole interaction. In this observer position, we are not in our own body, but we can see our own body, as well as all the others in the dynamic, from a neutral third person position. 
  4. Fourth position is the “we” position or field position. In this field position, we are feeling the whole dynamic and no longer neutral as we are in the third position. We are looking out for the interests of everyone involved. 

Each position has its advantages and disadvantages. Field position is the most wonder-filled position of them all. To truly be in field position, we have to have the ability to shift to all the other positions, as needed at any moment. So, rather than staying in field position, which is an ever changing kaleidoscope of experience, we can flexibly move wherever we are called to move and feel more penetratingly into every facet of life in and around us. 

Sensing the Field

We all sense the field. When you walk in a room and feel the vibe of the room, you are sensing the field. Through the conscious use of field position we can become even better at this. The better we get at feeling sensations in our own body the better we can feel and sense into other people’s feelings and whole dynamics. This is best taught in person or online and is difficult to write about. If you’re interested in learning this, reach out for individual coaching and we will have online courses which can teach you how to sense the field and read other’s feelings. 

When someone speaks, you can feel in your own body whether or not their speech resonates as true. If you listen closely, you will either get a yes when it resonates or a no when it doesn’t resonate. Similarly, you can feel into a group and sense how harmonious and connected or how disconnected it is. When a group is very connected, there’s a feeling of warmth in the heart. When the group is disconnected, there’s often an unsettling feeling in the solar plexus. The exact sensations in your body will vary from group to group depending on what is happening. 

The ability to sense the field is the most powerful leadership ability possible. When we can read people and dynamics accurately, and lovingly tend to them, we have nearly everything we need to be a good leader. This ability can serve as a compass to guide us in our decisions in every interaction. The more perceptive we are of human dynamics, the better we are able to navigate the complex social structures of our human world. I’m so grateful for the heart’s ability to feel and sense what is happening in the moment. With this guiding light, I find it much easier to find my way through even the most challenging situations. 

Join the Revolution

Adam Bulbulia is the author of three books on the topics of unconditional love, nurture being, and authenticity – all of which are available on Amazon. His upcoming book, Parenting from the Heart: A Guide to Create a Family Culture that Works for Everyone, is due out next year. 

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