We’ve all seen it or imagined it: the man or woman who is supremely confident in their ability to embrace their lover and see them immediately surrender and open. It’s as if they were able to silently communicate their desires so powerfully that their lover was instantly seduced, as if under a spell. In many ways, you are right: this person is in fact able to speak to their lover in a way that is much deeper than with any words: they are speaking with their body.
You may remember a few weeks ago when I spoke about my picky Persian cat Grisabelle and how she taught me everything I know about touch, all without saying a single word. How did she do it then? She, of course, spoke with her touch (and a few meows and purrs too). Somehow, her body spoke to mine, and as I listened I learned to touch her better and better. I learned to read her moods, I learned to know her sensations as if by telepathy. But in fact, I simply learned to feel what she feels as she told me — with her body — how it felt. There is a name for this kind of communication we’ve been practicing for the last two weeks, it’s called Haptic Communication.
So what will it look like to develop your ability to speak in touch? If you’re like me, you’ll slowly start to notice how more and more receptive people are to your touch, and you will also notice that you can begin to get a sense of what’s going on for them as your body connects with theirs. In effect, you’re learning a new language by practicing speaking in touch and listening for it too.
What do bodies say when they speak? The research I have done over the years tells me that the communication is mainly in the present tense and relatively simple — exactly what you would expect from us as animals. At least at first.
The 4 Core Communications of Touch
- simple states/emotions (happy/sad/angry/excited/tired/etc),
- simple pace or pace changes (faster/slower/more/less/harder/lighter/etc),
- simple desires (I like this/I don’t like that/I want more/I want less/Here/There/Yes/No/etc), and
- simple boundaries (enough/no/no more/stop/not here/ouch/etc)
Now can you think of each of the examples above spoken through the touch and body language of a cat? If you’re a cat person, I’m sure you’ve already been nodding your head since the beginning of this paragraph, and perhaps even before.
This week you will practice speaking (in touch) the simple states/paces/desires/boundaries mentioned above. For a more advanced practice, try more complex messages to see how well you can communicate them to a partner. Remember that this is all about practice and that the body can speak and listen simultaneously. When in doubt, speak to your partner (in touch) as if they are a cat. Why do I recommend this? Because I suspect that people generally have a lot more practice speaking in the language of touch with cats than they do speaking the language of touch with humans. Besides, both cats and humans are intelligent mammals and both are particular about the way they like to be touched.
6 Step Exercise to Learn a Lover’s* Language of Touch
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. Sit facing each other, close your eyes (both of you), and lightly hold hands.
3. Pick a particular state/pace/desire/boundary from the example above. Keep it simple. Then purposefully try to express this in touch. But instead of using your head to figure out what touching should look like, allow yourself to *feel* the state/pace/desire/boundary and then allow your body to naturally move in response. Yes, this will likely take practice.
4. Now allow your partner to respond with their own state/pace/desire/boundary by feeling it and then allowing their body to speak back.
5. Open your eyes and allow your partner to share what they “heard” in touch. Then share what you heard in response. Then share what you *meant* to say in the first place and then have your partner tell you what they meant in response. Notice if you got it right or if you were off in your noticing. Notice specific ways that your partner expresses these states/paces/desires/boundaries that might be different than other people (or cats). Or ways that they might be the same.
6. Do another few rounds of steps 3-5. Discuss with your partner. Notice what you learned. Thank your partner for sharing these moments with you.
Whoa! Three weeks of condensed exploration, learning & discovery about touch. And this was barely scratching the surface! Would you like to learn more, at your own pace, from and with someone who has been learning the language of touch for over 15 years? Go to my website (www.exquisitelover.com) and contact me there, or meet me this April 10-12th at Lucidity.
*(Editor’s note: Whenever we listen with an open heart, with no desires but to be present with the other, and wish and do the best for them, even if they are someone we have just met, in that moment, we can consider them a lover; one who is interacting with us in the premise of love.)