There is a sensual animal in all of us, waiting to be awakened. Quite often this totemic intelligence becomes inhibited from expressing itself through us, because we can grow up with very mixed signals about touch. Touch is always a sensation, and yet often, our experiences can lead us to developing mixed signals about the inherent pleasure of touch and touching. Sometimes we need practices to rewrite our relationship to touch, so that we can expand the fluency of our ability to communicate with it, and thus, to expand the quality of our social and intimate interactions.
Touch is one of the very first of the five senses that we ever experience in the womb. And for that reason, it is one of the earliest ways we explore and communicate with the world and with our parents. If touch is a language, it is simple and direct and only uses the present tense. You cannot touch in past tense or future tense. This is why touch always brings us to the present and grounds us. This is why being held and hugged feels so good. It is a reminder that the space we occupy in this world is seen and cared for by another human being. It reminds us of the time we were held by our mother and father. It reminds us that we are loved.
I like to tell people that everything I learned about touch, I learned from my very picky Persian kitty Grisabelle. Indeed, early on she would let me pet her a few seconds, then seemingly out of nowhere she would swat my hand with her paw and hiss at me. But over a period of years, I paid attention and learned her body, her movements, her touch, her sensitivity, her pace, her mood, and learned to touch her perfectly every time. Of course she never said a word: she taught me everything about touch through touch. Now it’s your turn.
In this post, you will learn to experience touch as a (pleasurable) sensation in the body. This is the first part of what is normally a 3 part post or a single class (as you will experience at Lucidity) 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 first part: Touch as a sensation in the body:
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). If you can’t find a pet or person, just do steps 1-3.
2. Start by lightly and *slowly* caressing a particular place (with your hand) that feels good to both you and the other person/pet (you might have to negotiate first). The back, an arm, a leg is a good start.
3. As you caress, first touch for your own pleasure. Explore the sensations in your hand and try to maximize how pleasurable it feels to you by changing how you touch, the speed, the pressure, the location, the side of the hand, etc. Notice what works, what doesn’t, note the best variations.
4. Then, while you caress for your own pleasure, get feedback from the other person about what feels good. Ask them whether you should go faster or slower, lighter and harder, or where/how they most prefer to be touched. Notice that in this conversation you are able to find things that feel great for both of you. If this is a pet or the other person prefers to be quiet, notice their sound and how their body responds. If your person isn’t “loud” enough in sounds/body, ask them to turn it up or act more like they would imagine a cat would. It’s quite common for many people — who share very little touch with anyone all day long — to not have a very developed language of touch.
5. Explore different locations on your partner’s body (that you are both okay with), explore asking for feedback (and receive it as a gift of how you can do better), explore telling your partner how you enjoy touching them (how pleasurable it feels to you and your body), and explore touching with different parts of your body (after all, your skin is the largest organ and it can both “speak” and “listen” at the same time).
6. Explore both touching and being touched at once, giving feedback, speaking about your own pleasure. See if you can do only this while keeping things completely platonic (so that this touch can be for its own sake)
Story: When I first taught my son (then 2yo) how to touch, I showed him only two variations to begin with: “slow gentle” and “fast tickle”. Then when we played, I would ask him which one he wants (either with my fingers or with a feather). I think it’s important to teach children how to touch and that their choice around touch matter. I believe this is the foundation for consent. If a child learns from a very early age that they can choose whether or not to be touched and how, they will automatically do the same with others. Can you imagine a society where everyone does this? I believe it is a society where rape and sexual assault is greatly reduced.
At Lucidity, we will review this part (touch as a sensation in the body) and then we will explore the meaning of touch, as well as speaking touch.
I hope you can make it!