For many of us, touch is both something we seek, and something which, perhaps due to unpleasant experiences, we avoid. Unravelling the hidden meanings we associate both with our touching others and with our being touched by others can open us to new possibilities in our enjoyment of social situations, and our feelings of safety and trust in intimate ones.
As the sensual animal in us awakens to the power of sensation, the more evolved part of our brain begins to make sense of this touch to give it meaning. This is how communication is born: an experience/thought/idea/feeling exists in our mind/body/heart, and even without trying it is expressed in our whole being such that touching another person communicates it subtly. Combine this communication with our current experience and the synergy of the two is then communicated back, and so on and so forth as a dance of meaning emerges.
What does it mean when you lean on someone, or hug them, or kiss them? What is communicated by your body to the outside world, to the living beings around it, when you touch them? It has been said that babies will fail to thrive or even die when not receiving enough touch (there’s a good thread here on that), and while no proof has been found that this is the case, it is clear that touch is important in the ways we subtly connect and communicate with each other — and, as parents/guardians, how we connect with the babies, toddlers and children in our lives. It’s no surprise that sex is both so taboo and (one of) the biggest industries on the planet: with our bodies, with our skin, with our sex, we speak things that are so deep and poignant and important to us. So how about starting to be more conscious about the meaning that arises in the touch you receive from all living beings around you? You might discover not only a world rich in conversations and meaning spoken to you each time someone touches you, but also an inner world where you attach meaning to the same.
And the truth is, how you experience the meaning of all touch is somewhere in-between where the physical sensation and the meaning you attach to it overlap.
As part two, this week we shift our attention from touch as a sensation in the body and place our inquiry into the meaning of touch, (while maintaining our awareness of what we learned last week). This is the second part of a three week challenge where you will eventually learn to speak with your touch so that others can feel you and feel more connected to you. Here are the steps for the second part:
1. Find someone to touch. It can be a pet, a lover, a partner (perhaps not a total stranger unless you are at a cuddle party :D).
2. Agree on a location where it’s okay to touch them, then ask the other person to close their eyes.
3. Offer them touch for about a minute. Keep it simple. It could be anything from a caress, to a hug, to putting your head in their lap. Don’t think about it too much, just allow your body to touch them in a way that feels right.
4. When you are done, have a conversation about the meaning/qualities/feelings that seemed to arise from your touch, such as caring, sweetness, fear, hesitation, surprise, etc. This is not about being *right*, this is about discovering the meaning we attach to touch. Make sure that you both get to speak about your touch.
5. Switch so that now you have your eyes closed and the other person is touching you for a minute (or more), and the have a similar conversation.
Note: As you learn how your touch is perceived (by both you and the other person), it will change how you touch. And your touch will also change depending on who the person is in front of you, how you feel about them, their sex, their gender, their sexual orientation, their attractiveness (to you), their attraction (to you), their height, their weight, their style, etc. All of these things (and much more) will influence how you touch and how they touch you. The deeper and more subtle the conversation you have with them about the meaning of touch, the greater your understanding will be about this language I call “The Language of Touch“. As we get clearer on what touch means to us, and what we mean by touch, we can step more clearly into the world as our intended selves. Next week, we’ll take it one step further into the practice of “speaking touch.”