Touch, it's underrated
Day 118/366 days Towards Self-Mastery. Mood: reticent
This is a difficult post to write. As Sarah is moving through the senses I've been dreading coming to the sense of touch. What will I say? What might people think?
So many mixed feelings about it. About hugs, and physical contact, massages, and sexuality.
Physical touch says Sarah, is our very first sensual experience once we've been delivered into this world.
I'm not sure that's entirely correct. We might be ignoring the contact with mother's and father's voices, and life around them, touch in the womb, and the enormous physical sensation of being birthed.
As you go about your day, make time to connect physically with people and things. If you have children, hug them more. Experience that delightful sense of touch as best you can.
Sarah suggests organising a massage as a routine preventative mental health plan. Good idea!
Bathing in warm scented water and sleeping naked between cotton sheets, and all that comes with it if you don't sleep alone. Wearing silk or cotton or cashmere, whichever helps you to feel most cosseted.
Am I all on my lonesome in being a someone who has had very little physical contact in my life? It doesn't feel weird to me, I don't crave long, luxurious hugs, and I don't feel that I have an aversion to physical contact.
Let's try to unpack this as best I can.
My family weren't into physical touch, to our detriment for sure. But there you have the conditioning that prepares a child for life. Awhile ago one of my sisters must have been contemplating this idea. She began to hug for longer. Weird. It's weird if it's not a genuine reciprocal feeling of love and caring. I didn't feel that. It takes more than a hug to generate those unfelt feelings from absent relationships. It takes connection, communication, sharing thoughts and dreams, mulling over ideas, shared experiences, all the things that actually make relationships.
My own son, I hugged long. We had, as far as I can remember, lots of hugs and cuddles. In my circles I was criticised for that, and that would make sense, given that my circles weren't into physical contact. But that's was the full extent of my hugging.
As I connect more and more with my senses, my kitty cat is the winner. She is now receiving regular hugs and cuddles and lapping them up. About time! I'll pay even more attention to her furriness.
With my partners it was all sexual, no real intimacy at all. No gentleness, no squeezes of deep love and affection. Am I the only one? There's no blame here. Devoid of physical contact myself, I managed to get what I was. I'm pretty darn sure it's a common thing. Tell me if I'm wrong!
It's interesting what vulnerability will do to shift priorities. Power brokers become huggers.
From a purely biological perspective, hugging is about stimulating the proprioceptors in our skin and body. They respond to pressure, and tell our body that we're supported. So they keep us upright in the world, and enable us to find our balance. This knowledge enables me to use my body in various ways to feel supported. Pushing up against the wall or chair if I'm feeling overwhelmed. Making an arch with my fingertips when in a difficult conversation. Treading hard in my footsteps when I'm pissed off. These things we do naturally.
Hugs then, communicate that we are supported emotionally. Until recently, that's not been my experience. Now when my son hugs me I feel a reciprocal connection. When my fellow Gestaltian's hug me, (my cohort friends in my study programme), it's the hug of a reciprocal relationship, shared experiences, journeying together.
Massaging my feet and body with foot balm and body lotion is a way to regularly stimulate proprioceptors and to reassure my brain that I'm supported, if only by myself.
Touch like the other senses also has more subtle meanings. We refer to our emotional life as feelings. We feel touched when someone does something really thoughtful and lovely for us.
As a midwife I relied on my sense of touch, and sensitive it was indeed. In my work I often worked with touch. Maybe, just maybe that's where my sense of touch has been satisfied. My work with people has always involved my sense of touch.
Today I'll make an effort to connect with the sense of touch. That's all I've got for you.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.