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Heart anatomy

Gil Hedley calls himself a somanaut. Like an astronaut who navigates outer space, a somanaut is dedicated to exploring the inner space that makes us the magical human beings that we are. I’ve taken workshops from Gil in the past and he’s an off-beat, charming, and brilliant anatomist. Check out “fuzz, food, inflammation, and movement” for a blog post I did on Gil, inflammation, and inner space several years ago. That post includes his famous Fuzz Video, which is definitely worth watching.

My last two posts were on bacterial inner space (see links below) and this post tops off the series with a test to see how good your interoceptive skills are. In other words, how well you know your inner space.


Grab yourself a stopwatch and a calculator (unless you’re a math wizard and can do this in your head). Sit quietly in a comfortable chair with your hands resting in your lap or on your thighs. Don’t cross your legs. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Start the stopwatch and count your heartbeats by feeling your heart’s rhythm for one minute. Don’t touch your neck (carotid artery), your wrist (radial artery), or your heart—just sense when your heart beats and keep track of the number. Write the number down.

Now, using your fingers (preferably your index and middle finger), find your pulse on the inside of your wrist. Don’t use your thumb, as it has its own pulse. You can also find your pulse on either side of your neck. Use whichever one works best for you and count the beats for one minute in the normal way (using your fingers). Wait a couple of minutes and do it again for one minute using your fingers. Average the two measurements in which you used your fingers to monitor your pulse.

Calculate the difference between your heartbeat estimate and the average of your two pulse counts using your fingers. Take the absolute value of the difference—you don’t need to know whether you overshot or undercounted, just the amount by which you missed the mark. Then divide by your average pulse and subtract that result from 1. Here’s the formula.

Interpreting your score:

If your result was 0.80 or higher, your interoceptive abilities are awesome. A score of 0.60 to 0.79 means you have a moderately good sense of your inner space. A result below 0.59 indicates that you need to work on getting to know yourself a little better.

I say this often, but the more you understand what’s going on inside, the more likely you are to take good care of your inner space. Your body is a temple, go inside and check it out. It’s magical.

You might also like:
How much of you is really you
Talking bacteria and disease fighting veggies

Peace, love, and inner space.

• Use of the above You Are Here letterpress print by Roll & Tumble Press courtesy of Street Anatomy (Anatomy & Pop Culture Gallery Store). Print available here.
• Interoceptive testing formula found in Scientific American MIND, May/June 2012.

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7 Responses to “Take the inner space test (dare you)”

  1. Angela says:

    uh… mine was 1.23

  2. Alisa says:

    Just couldn’t do it. Not sure why, but it felt strange. Guess I need to get more in touch!

  3. Chelle says:

    Wow, I guess all the self-relaxation sessions have worked. I got 0.99!

  4. Maggie says:

    Oooh, I loved this! I was 0.72 so I’m on my way! Thanks for sharing such a cool formula. It felt amazing when I realized I had the power to KNOW when my heart was beating.

  5. This is really interesting, Melissa. Especially since it’s a concept that I was pondering in yoga class last night, where we did a lot of pranayama and conscious filling of the lungs from different sides and directions. I realized that since I can’t see the inside parts of my body, it’s hard for me to (in the absence of pain) really feel them. My heart, for instance. Or my lungs, or kidneys. I mostly just imagine them. But breath – that’s something I do feel, at least inside my nose, and my throat. Beyond that, I’m not sure if I’m feeling it in my actual lungs, but certainly I do HAVE actual lungs, lol. And a heart, and kidneys. So shouldn’t FEELing these parts of me be possible, too? It’s so cool to think about. And try to do…so different than just focusing on surface, and the easily seen/known…

  6. Karen Teeling says:

    I recently won a battle with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. I had been on the drug Methatrexate for Rheumatoid Arthiritis for approximately 2 years prior to the lymphoma diagnosis in March of 2012. Anyway, I’m tired of the “drugs” that are suppose to help but only hurt and am trying alternatives such as Green Smoothies, going Gluten Free as well as Dairy and now Sugar free. Not easy. Do you have any information on where I could find a “diet” plan that would fit my criteria and help reduce the bloody stiffness in my fingers, knees, elbows, shoulders and feet? Thanks a million in advance, should have been paying more attention back in the 60s and 70s. Karen

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Karen,

      Glad to hear you’ve won the battle and are on track to better health. A gluten-free, whole foods diet may help the stiffness and RA, but I don’t have any specific diet I could recommend. Gluten can cause inflammation (as well as dairy and sugar, like you mentioned), so eliminating those is a great start. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. I appreciate it!

      Wishing you all the best!

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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