I touch bodies all day, almost every day. I don’t take this work for granted. What an honor it is to connect with another person’s body for the purpose of therapy- not just to attempt to remedy sore muscles or nagging nerve pain, but to assuage the aching soul. I’ve been teaching couples massage classes for years now and I love sharing insights with couples on how to tenderly care for one another by enhancing connected touch.
We live in a hyper-sexualized culture that was birthed out of a Victorian society in which touch was taboo. This crazy juxtaposition has given us constructs or beliefs about how touch should be by the “suggestions” made in movies, social media feeds or a crazy spring break fling for college students. Many people are dissatisfied with empty sex , or have been in an abusive relationship and just give up. What people are really hungry for is nurturing, connected touch. I’ve got some principles gleaned from years of practice and teaching couples that I would love to share with you: Connection, breath, and movement are important keys to improving this beautiful nurturing skill we were designed to share with one another. This isn’t about sex, it’s a loving superpower, a gift that can transform the lives of those you love.
Spiderman is my favorite superhero, mainly because he had to work at his superpower. He had to wrestle with it, play with it, run into walls and take some falls before his web-slinging skills were smooth and dependable. If you want the superpower of connection, you will need to practice. Set time and remove distractions. It’s crazy how connected we all are with our devices. Getting rid of scrolling time will give you ample time for the practice of developing satisfying and connected touch.
Cultivating connected touch can happen via multiple pathways. It is difficult to want to practice connected touch when communicating is difficult. The speaker-listener technique https://youtu.be/3JmGR8XHbJY can be a wonderful tool for slowing down and actually focusing on hearing the other person. It is important to bring touch into this exercise if the other person is comfortable. It could be a hand on the back, over the heart, on the leg, wherever, but the focus is on bringing touch into heart to heart communication that is focused on listening. Another practice is to focus on the physicality of touch by slowing down enough to sink a hand into an arm or leg and feel, really feel pulses, energetic sensations, sinking through the skin into the tissue via your mind’s eye. The point is to not know where their skin begins and yours ends. This place of connection is a place of profound healing.
Breathe together. This practice takes you out of time. You lose the busyness and the to-do list and focus in on your loved ones breath- the rhythm of their life force. The skill of co-regulation, which is used when someone is dysregulated, uses breath as its cornerstone. Co-regulation allows the person with the calmer brain to connect with the person who is distraught, rageful or filled with self-contempt and confusion to come alongside and offer the skill of calming through breath, gentle touch and calm soothing tones. We all need this and not just in times of stress and duress. We can learn to offer it to one another. Making and holding eye connection and adding in a gentle touch with this “matching of breath” deepens the experience of calm and nurture. It’s also a beautiful practice to place a hand over the heart and belly of the person you are practicing with and meld the breaths, slowing and softening and listening.
Oh the joy of shared movement! In ancient Scriptures, we are commanded to dance because dancing and moving together and singing together creates transcendence and sweet, rich connection. These expressions of ecstasy and childlike faith signify a release of inhibition and an invitation into play. In my classes, I teach partner stretching, but not as a scientific exercise. I encourage childlike movement and play. Honor the capabilities of your body and be creative. Ruts aren’t allowed when you are exploring touch: Take a nighttime walk together hand-in-hand- noticing sights, sounds and scents-sharing them with one another. Hike a mountain. Climb a tree. Have a pillow fight. Revisit cartwheels and somersaults. Slow dance. Who said that being an adult means that we stop playing?
Learning how to give a good massage without hurting yourself or your partner and how to give this gift for more than three minutes is a way to bless. Hot towels, aromatherapy, or a nice foot soak are easy touches that care for each other’s bodies. Moving your body and being aware of how it moves helps you to understand shared movement and your partner’s aches and pains and caring for them are at the foundation of being human. Moving your body with your partner is transformational. Now, more than ever, practice the development of this superpower. Push through the discomfort that disconnection has created. Even Spiderman had to practice his web-slinging skills. You were created for connected touch!
Interested in further exploring the power of connected touch? You are invited to my Couples Massage Workshop on February 19th at the Yoga Tree. More information and tickets at wellspringvitality.com