The Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel is a resource for both brains AND bodies, so I made it into a squishable, huggable pillow.
When big emotions are present, sometimes a soft comfort object (like a just-the-right-squishiness pillow) can help us calm our bodies and slow our thoughts. When we’ve settled a bit, this pillow can help us thoughtfully reflect on our emotions and how they show up for us. This double-sided pillow offers a concrete way to meet needs. It’s a comfort object to hold and feel while doing the hard work of identifying emotions and how they impact us.
Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel Throw Pillow Case
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How to Use An Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel Pillow:
This Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel pillow can be used at home or in the professional offices of therapists, counselors, social workers, etc. Parents and practitioners tell me that this pillow has been a unique way to bring behavioral and social-emotional learning resources into their meeting spaces in a gentle way.
People use the pillow as:
• A jumping-off point
• A conversation starter
• A reference point
• or simply a cozy something to squeeze your arms around or rest your head on.
The Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel is not intended to function as a diagnostic tool or a treatment for mental illness. It’s a tool to be used alongside good from self and others to learn more about ourselves.
Some of us may struggle to name the emotions we experience – or even to acknowledge we experience emotions at all. Growth means learning to recognize the sensations of a particular emotional experience and then connect it to a cognitive, conscious understanding to express the emotion. It happens slowly and in the margins. Concentrating too much on analyzing feelings can have the opposite effect. That’s why I love this pillow. Having it present in a passive way keeps information nearby without taking center stage.
Everyone’s Personal Emotion Sensation Wheel Is Different
The human experience is diverse, and when using this pillow, you’ll have the best results if you embrace responses like “Oh, That’s totally not true for me” or “Actually, for me, that sensation belongs over there in that section.” Why? Because when it comes to this emotion and body sensation wheel pillow, all responses generate opportunities for making connections. All responses help integrate the mind and body. All responses prompt conversations that grow how we understand how our unique body-sensations and emotions are linked. Part of regulating our bodies and our emotions is to understand the current emotional experience – to distinguish what is being felt so that it can be honored and navigated.
While this post is dedicated to the pillow version of the Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel, I’ve written at length about how I developed this resource and how to use it. Click here to read more about this project.
About the Design on the Feeling Sensation Wheel Pillow:
The Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel pillow is created with a design that is an adaptation of the traditional feelings wheel that’s been floating around the internet (and, before that, classrooms) since the 1980s. The Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel pillow makes this design available to people in a way that traditional handouts miss.
The two inner rings of this feeling wheel are emotions, while the outside ring contains descriptions of the body sensations that sometimes accompany that emotion. Each sensation is described in concrete language in order to be more accessible to neurotypical individuals, very literal thinkers, and people with alexithymia.
As a person struggles to find words or feels choked up with emotion, they may find their hand tracing the lines of the wheel on the pillow. In that moment, they are making healing connections between brain and body in a way that a traditional handout or worksheet couldn’t have.
Why People Love this Pillow’s Design:
Many emotional experiences start in the body before they move into our awareness (as researchers at Columbia University, among others, have shown). When we can easily name an emotion that has moved from sensation to awareness, it’s because we’ve had a lifetime practicing naming that connection. Someone in our lives helped us identify and name feelings until we could do it ourselves.
However, not all were given the care we needed to develop an emotional vocabulary to describe our feelings. Often, people who missed that emotional “mirroring” process while growing up move through life experiencing a full emotional range within their physical body, but are unable to name, express, or seek comfort for and connection in these emotions.
Emerging brain research is clear: integrating emotion (feelings) with cognition (thinking) and body-based experiences (sensations) promotes resiliency, window of tolerance expansion, and recovery for people struggling with mental illness. This is why the Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel pillow has been so popular it’s by far my best-selling product.
Who Can Benefit from this Unique Feeling Wheel Pillow?
Truly, anyone can use this resource. Who doesn’t love a soft & huggable pillow? Specifically, those who have yet to practice recognizing and labeling their emotions may appreciate this tool because asking them to identify complex emotions can become an intellectual exercise with limited opportunity to promote growth and change. My Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel pillow helps this process by prompting mind-body awareness, connection, and conversation without dominating the room in a way that a handout or flipchart can.
Although this was initially developed as a professional resource for therapists practicing somatic therapy, this pillow has found a home in offices and practices across the realm of mental health and education. From school guidance counselors to yoga teachers to social workers and from occupational therapists to psychotherapy practitioners for all ages, this pillow can be a useful tool. It is a beautiful example of the variability in use this pillow offers: no matter who, what, when, or where it is used, it allows a comforting, concrete way to identify feelings and their accompanying sensations.
New: Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel Floor Pillow
The following section may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, these links help make my art sustainable.
For many people, sitting on the ground can be a physical way to feel more grounded. This Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel floor pillow can serve as an office, living room, or classroom decoration while also offering a comfortable and interactive place to sit.
This floor pillow is plush but firm, with a center button to help the pillow keep its shape and to create a comfortable dip for seating. The floor pillow comes in two sizes: 26″ diameter (perfect for kids and teens or small spaces) and 30″ diameter (which is more comfortable for adults or for creating a cozy seating space in a large open area). Being 100% polyester means this pillow is stain-resistant and easy to care for.
Wednesday 9th of June 2021
Isn't this Gloria Willcox's design? She created this feelings wheel in 1982. I think she deserves part of the credit. The similarities are so numerous that she deserves some acknowledgment in my opinion.
Wednesday 9th of June 2021
Thanks so much for your feedback, Mary! This stub article is just about the pillow iteration of the print, but I've written at length about the history of feeling wheels and how my version came to be in the main article about my Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel