The idea of sensing emotions in connection with the body is one understood by Eastern traditions for a long time and is gaining further medical and scientific acceptance in the West. This particular exercise pulls from both traditions.
Tsultrim Allione’s book Feeding Your Demons describes a meditation practice recorded by Buddhists in the eleventh-century by the name of “Chod,” which means “to cut through.” (page 3)
“Step 1: Find the Demon. This first step has three phases: Deciding what demon you wish to work on, Locating where you hold the demon in your body, Observing the demon in your Body.”
John E. Sarno’s book The Divided Mind expands upon his mind-body approach to back pain:
“Psychosomatic disorders arise from the unconscious mind, which is where emotions reside that, for the most part, we are unaware of… Successful treatment requires one to simply acknowledge that these painful, unpleasant, often threatening emotions exist. It is not necessary to ‘figure them out.’ Treatment is about acknowledging their existence, not changing them. Stress is unavoidable and a part of life. Acceptance, then, not only mean accepting one’s pain as psychosomatic, but also coming to terms with our genuine self, both the parts we like about ourselves and the parts we don’t like. Accepting our painful unconscious emotions as part of who we are is not only a step toward successful treatment but a step toward being a more whole human being.” – Page 328
Alan Konell has an approach to reach the unconscious, through a hypnosis in his book The Six Week Pain Solution, in which we quiet ourselves, bring awareness to a bodily pain, and ask our unconscious the following:
“What emotion or feeling have I been feeling lately that has not been fully processed or resolved?”
A more advanced version of this practice would be the full Feeding your Demons practice, based on the book.