It’s challenging to get our touch needs met when we’re sheltering-in-place away from family, separated from parents or children and other loved ones. Many people are struggling with the lack of touch. I want to address this on two levels. The first is the content level, which is the strategies, tips, tricks, tools, innovations, etc around our real touch needs as animal bodies and social creatures. Then I also want to zoom out and ask, what does it mean to allow life to touch us? Even with the practical tips and tools—there has to be a willingness for us to allow and receive touch, in order for the touch to sink in and for the need for touch to actually be met.
I want to start by saying that allowing a need to be met doesn’t mean you don’t have it (that need or desire) again a moment later, and that you are still allowed to want more of it, or something different. So often there’s a sense that if we let our thirst be quenched at all, we are not allowed to still want more. But both can happen at the same time— we can allow ourselves to be nourished by something, we can let our touch needs be met, and we can want it longer, more, or different one moment later, all at the same time.
We also tend to think that if something isn’t (exactly) the way we think we want it, or from the person we think we want it from, we will often dismiss receiving it at all. So I invite you—not as a way to dismiss what you want or the validity of getting touch needs met from another person—to allow some part of that need to be filled in a way you didn’t think it could. I’m not suggesting this should ‘do the trick,’ but can you allow yourself to be nourished & fed, and for the need to be met even when you want more, from a person or a different person. In short, don’t fuck yourself over by focusing on how you’re not getting exactly what you want, in just the way you think you want it so you dont recieve what is available. This is part of the piece of allowing life to touch us.
Finally, I just want to say that if there was ever a time to let go of the fact that we look silly or weird, now is it. Some of these exercises might feel a bit weirdor silly, but who cares! If it works, it works. From my weird life to yours, I give you all the permission you need. That being said, here goes:
I offer full explanations & more examples for each segment in the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecv8eht88Fk
- Feel the clothes on your body.
Clothing that is tighter might actually feel more supportive right now. You can wrap parts of your body, just to feel the pressure of being touched. A weighted blanket, or layering on multiple blankets so you can feel that weight is also a good option. I happen to have sandbags from my son’s preschool teacher, and I will sometimes lie down and put the sandbags on my body, and it feels so good. It might not be the kind of touch you want, but are there other ways to get that need met?
- Snuggling a Teddy Bear, Pet or Child
I have the teddy bear that I’ve had since I was four years old and I will still sometimes snuggle him at night (long before SIP :P). Maybe you have a stuffed animal from your childhood, or you can order one online. If it feels good to snuggle a teddy bear, then snuggle it, who cares what anyone else thinks!
If you have pets, snuggle them and see if you can be really willing to receive their touch. Take time to enjoy the touch of a non-human animal. I was having a more anxious day recently, and I was lying down on the couch, and my partner made the dog get on top of me and lay on me and it took intention & attention from me to really lie down and stay there. I was there for about 30 minutes sinking deeper and deeper into it and it felt so good. But I had to give myself the time. It’s kind of like savasana, can you take time with your pets, sink into the experience and let yourself be nourished?
I’m sheltering in place with my children right now and frankly, they are annoying me by touching me All The Time. However I’ve noticed opportunities to be drawn in. If I can remember to relax the part of me that feels over touched by them, and let their touch in, then I am more nourished by it. Is there a way you can renegotiate the circumstances with your kids in order to actually be able to be nourished by their touch?
- Sensory Play
There’s whole internet rabbit holes to go down when it comes to sensory play. Feathers, shaving cream, beans, sand, dirt—anything can be used to ignite your felt sense of touch. Run your hands through a bowl of rice. Lick whipp[ed cream off your own fingers. What do you have at home that could fulfill this? You have to actually allow life to touch you. Let yourself be nourished in some way.
- Baths and Showers
Next time you take a bath or shower, slow down and really let the water touch you. Let it in. Shifting the context to consciously, with intention & attention, allowing the water to touch you, makes showers and baths a totally different experience. Play with the temperature.
- Nature. Wind, trees, plants, flowers, grass, rocks.
I love going out in storms. I love feeling touched by the warmth of the sun, or the way the breeze or wind might caress my skin. It takes intention & attention to let nature touch you and to allow yourself to be nourished by nature’s touch. I’m a big fan of hugging trees and feeling that tree hug me back. If you can, lay your full body down on the ground, and practice letting your body become heavier and heavier so you can feel your weight down on the earth, and the sense that it’s touching you, and you are held. Put some nice light rocks on your eyes, and give yourself some time to let it all in.
- Self touch
Most of us tend to discount the touch we give ourselves as second rate. We imagine we are only doing it because we don’t have anyone else to touch us. But the touch I give myself is not secondary to the touch I receive from my partner, children, pet and other sources. It’s an entire touch relationship in & of itself, one that includes sexual & sensual touch, as well as platonic, playful & non-sexual touch. We happen to have this really great opportunity to develop, deepen or expand our touch relationship with ourselves – perhaps it’s only been sexual in the past, but how else do you like platonic self touch? In this moment, if you could be touched in any way, what would be the most amazing, nourishing, pleasurable, satisfying way you could be touched? How can you bring that to yourself right now, or at the very least, begin the exploration of what it might be.
Allowing ourselves to be touched by life and allowing the nourishment that is available right now, in no way to detracts from, or dismisses that there’s anything else you might want or be longing for. But can we also still allow ourselves to be met and nourished in some way. All of these require that we be willing to allow life to touch us, recieve it, and be nourished by it.
Want more? Watch the full video: