Exercise 4: Touch
Instinctively we reach out, from birth, and are comforted by our mother's touch. Made to feel safe. And as we grow we are cosseted, cuddled, and cuddle in return. The need to touch and be touched by others is innate in all of us, and maybe that is how we should begin this next exercise.
Find someone close by and put your arm around them.
Approach someone you know, maybe a colleague or shop assistant, and shake their hand.
Try stroking someone's hair, or even your own hair, and as you do this, ask some questions:
How do you feel?
How does touching make you feel?
For many of us, reaching out, touching, is hard, even with our loved ones, but especially with those we don't know too well. The idea of shaking hands or putting our arms around a stranger can be a most alien, even fearful feeling. Yet there are those of us who will not think twice about throwing our arms around anybody, stranger or friend.
Sometimes it's a cultural thing. The Italians kiss, the Greeks hug, the Irish, a generally friendly race, will quickly become your bosom pal. The English now, well the English are known to be remote, standoffish, and cold, in fact English men have probably the poorest reputation as lovers. I think it safe to say that the view of the outside world is that the English are about as passionate as a lump of coal.
I would agree that we seem to be a rather cold and unemotional race, but I have known the warmest hearts, the most caring and loving souls, and I have known English men and women to be passionate when it comes to their homes, their rights as human beings, and their families.
I began wondering what it is that makes neighbor different from neighbor, sister different from brother, son different from father, but I realized that this is a discussion too great and complex for the here and now, and is of no real consequence to us at this time.
What makes us different is not important. That we are different is exciting, a curiosity, and our differences make us the individuals we are. Our differences can also make us wary of others, uncomfortable with ourselves and can be the source of our shyness or nervousness at the very idea of touching. Being different, feeling different from others can give us feelings of insecurity, inadequacy. "Why would someone want to hug me? Why would anyone want me to hug them?" Yet we are all different. Not one person's fingerprints are the same as another, nor feet, nor hands, or eyes, or ears. Similar maybe, but not the same. Our emotions, feelings, the way we sense, react, act....similar maybe, but definitely not the same. And yet, in our humanness we are the same. We have the same needs of love, some more, some less, but all requiring, all needing love, comfort, caring, gentleness. We all have a need to know that someone cares. We all need to feel that touch of love.
So let us try to develop our sense of touch. Let us ask some more questions. Questions like...
How many different textures are there to touch?
How acute can your sense of touch become?
How many feelings are triggered when you use your sense of touch?
How aware of yourself does your awareness of touch make you?
How many memories are there, and where do they come from?
How often are you aware of your sense of touch?
How often do you sense touch?
How often do you enjoy to touch?
How often do you find touch distasteful?
How often do you give yourself a gentle, loving, touch?
And of course you really should ask the question:
How aware of your own touch are you? Is your skin rough or smooth? Does the skin feel differently on different parts of your body?
Yes, of course it does. But how? Why? And how does it make you feel?
How does your touch feel to others? How do animals respond to your touch?
Are you a gardener? How do your plants respond to your touch?
When asking these questions try to be as expressive as you can be when writing down your answers, and try to be aware of your feelings.
When we look at the five senses and try to associate, to feel something about them, the one sense that is easiest to associate with is touch.
If someone asks, "Just feel this," then we automatically touch. So when you ask, "How do I feel?" not only are you asking, "What kind of texture is this?", but also, "What are my emotions, how do I feel inside, what things touch me, move me, stir my emotions?"
There are so many varieties of texture, soft, smooth, scratchy, rough, hard, etc.
Here below is my list of different things to touch. Some you may have used, and there are some which you may not have thought of.
Soil. Child's hair. Carpet pile. Flower petals. Eyelashes. Smooth wood. Tree bark. An unshaven chin. Material. Grass. Water. Sticky buns.
All of these textures are good to touch.
Try writing down all of your thoughts and feelings, and be surprised at how acute your sense of touch has become.
And one touch that you should learn to become aware of, an all important touch:
THE TOUCH OF LOVE.
The touch of love. The giving and the receiving of love, expressed in so many ways. Yet the most beautiful is to be touched by love. To have that feeling of love welling up inside you, filling you, expanding and warming you. It is truly a feeling of being made whole. It is truly a feeling of power, an inner power, which tells you that nothing else matters, that you are of God, and indeed well loved.
When I was a girl I would wish so hard to be loved as my youngest sister was loved by my mother. We would be sitting on the floor playing, or at the table eating, asleep in bed, in a thousand places, and I would see my mother. She would come upon us, and as she passed, would reach out to give my sister a kiss, or stroke her hair, or tuck her into bed. Tickle the back of her neck with a gentle finger, that same finger she would use to prod and poke me in the harshest way. My mother showed her love of my sister in a thousand ways, and the way I noticed and was envious of most, was the way she touched her.
That was a great lesson for me. My mother may well have loved me, but I never knew it, for she never showed it. I learned. And the hardest lessons are often the best remembered. I learned. "If you don't show it, they don't know it!" It's a lesson I take to my students, to my clients and patients, a lesson I try hard to live every day, even though I fail every day. And it is a lesson I have brought to my child so that she knows she is well loved. "If you don't show it, they don't know it."
In the night I lay trembling, afraid to be touched. Saying my prayers, I would beg God to stop them from coming. He never seemed to hear my prayers. Little did I know, growing up, that those in the spirit world came to comfort me, to care for and to nurture me. To touch my pounding, terrified, aching heart with love.
As I watched, I saw him lean toward her and put his hand to her hair, his fingers gently lift some of the silky strands.
"Your husband is stroking your hair," I softly said, knowing this to be a tender, loving moment.
"Can she feel me," he asked, "can she feel my fingers in her hair?"
Looking to my client, sadly I had to acknowledge that she could not, for even as her husband had asked his question, she was asking me to tell her where he was standing, and which side he was touching.
Grey Eagle squeezed my shoulder. The joy I felt in feeling the pressure of his fingers pushing into my flesh was indescribable. "How is it," I asked him, "that I can feel your touch, yet she cannot feel his?" A soft breeze wafted across my face as my guide blew me a kiss. "Maybe she cannot feel his touch because she does not believe she can. Perhaps she does not believe in herself enough, or in the power of the universe." Sadly, I nodded, understanding the truth of Grey Eagle's words, and I wondered in that moment, if there was any way in which I could help people to be more aware of their loved ones in the spirit world. What could I do? The answer to that often posed question is found in the contents of this book.
To a mother who has lost her child, I will often say, "I can see your son. As I speak with him, he has placed his arms around you and is holding you tight." Or to a father, I might say, "Your daughter is playing with your ears, or ruffling your hair with her fingertips." I see their faces, looking at me, believing, yet disbelieving, for they are asking themselves, "How could this be?" Yet I can say to you all, for I know this to be true, that all of us, at one time or another in our lives, have felt the touch of our loved ones in the spirit world. And what Grey Eagle says is right. We don't believe in ourselves enough. We don't believe that we are capable of receiving such a gift. How many times must we dismiss the incredible, the unbelievable, put it down to imagination, before we can accept that the impossible is sometimes very possible? How many times will we refuse to see, to hear, to feel, taste or smell that which we can taste, can smell, can feel, see and hear? Only when we believe in ourselves, only then.