Date of Award
Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies
Stasia Johnson Steinhagen
Holistic Health Studies
Interoception is consciously interpreting and integrating bodily sensations. A person’s interoceptive awareness has a lasting effect as the mind and body attempt to maintain homeostasis. Time spent in nature offers greater stress reduction, cognitive functioning, and immune response. Both interoception and nature positively affect well-being, however, no studies describe interoceptive practice and time spent in nature as a combined experience. This phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of individuals engaging in a pre-recorded interoceptive practice six times, both in nature and non-nature settings. Eight participants describe their somatic, emotional, physiological, and overall essential experiences using descriptive journal worksheets with open-ended journal prompts, somatic body maps, Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions, and self-reported heart rate variability. We analyzed data using interpretative phenomenological analysis, content, and thematic analysis. All participants identified changes in somatic sensations and shifts in emotional states. Most participants shifted towards positive emotional states, with Serenity being the most frequently identified emotion in both settings. The physiological data was unique to each individual experience during every single session. Participants described positive benefits, resulting in a reduction of negative emotions and an increase in positive emotions. Most participants had a greater appreciation and increased desire to interact with nature. Interoceptive practices led to increased awareness of bodily sensations, emotions, and overall experiences. This powerful medicine is free and accessible at any moment in time. More nuanced research is needed to understand how interoceptive practices can benefit well-being, including research on specific body part sensations prior to interceptive practices.
Steinbach, Krista and Betlach, Jennifer. (2023). Interoceptive Practices Performed in Nature and Not in Nature: A Phenomenological Inquiry. Retrieved from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website: https://sophia.stkate.edu/ma_hhs/35
Available for download on Saturday, May 25, 2024