The power of touch

I just read this article on Elephant Journal about the healing power of touch in yoga, and it resonated so much. I noticed, for a while, my yoga teacher was the only person that I would let touch me…except for hugs with friends. But even those were done with a shut-down-ness going on inside. In yoga, I felt able to be open and be held and be nurtured…there was a slight resistance but never enough to make me shut down completely and pull away. And it felt more physical – like a physical, defence, reaction, but not one I needed anymore. And almost all of me, was able to know that.

Still a part of me feared it, but I think a large part of this fear was the fear of vulnerability, the fear of falling apart, the fear of her then stopping and leaving and moving to someone else’s mat…I think I knew I was safe. To be honest, even when I felt slightly defensive, I still couldn’t get enough of it! I never felt like she came over to my mat enough. I often found myself asking questions and asking her to demonstrate or help me with something, even though I kinda could freestyle and find my way…I just wanted her support and her nurturance. I may as well have it if it is there, I always thought, rather than battle on how I used to.

It felt beautiful to read this piece to realise that is what was happening – I was healing. I really miss yoga and I really miss those classes but because of my back, I haven’t been since the summer. Fuck. But also, what’s weird – and I think incredibly normal – is I kinda feel like my journey with that class is on a temporary break. I need something new. I need a new place to take my body and stretch and explore my soul, and reach my toes.

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Something I notice, on the subject of healing and touch, is how it is so important for me to regain trust with myself…to regain, and find, the trust for human touch through my own. I give myself cuddles. I explore my body. I hold my body. I stroke my arms, my legs. I offer myself gentleness and love, boundaries and strength. I offer myself the whole package. And I don’t hold back, and I listen to the ‘no’ that comes from inside sometimes. I sit with my inner girl and I tell her she is safe, as I hold myself tight.

As someone who has continued the abuse I received as a child, so strongly and so destructively in my adulthood, this feels so fucking healing. It feels like it just makes sense. In order to trust others, I need to be able to trust myself. In order to trust that people are safe, I need to know that I am going to protect myself and keep myself safe before I allow anyone else to touch me.

For ages I have felt such a massive resistance to body therapists. There have been a couple that I have worked with the last year and a half, who I have known before everything, too. They felt safe, but even with them, there was a deep sense of unsafety. I went from never hugging, never wanting anyone to touch me, as a kid and young adult, to a few years of a stint of total affection and hugging and loving it, to then shut down the last couple of years…but, to me, it kinda makes sense. This would happen as you’re healing, right? Wounds flare up and sit on your face until it’s time for them to soften, or until they simply just fade. That’s what I feel like has happened with the subject of touch. I long for it, I crave it, I desperately need it, but it also feels desperately unsafe. And so I honour that. Whereas before I would have powered on through, I listen to my body and my defences and what my little girl is saying, now. Before I didn’t know how…I didn’t know it was safe.

It feels like the utmost gift of self love, the action of holding myself. To love myself through physical contact, not just through actions or words, but through one of the most fundamental ways of showing affection – touchThese feel like beautiful, solid, and wholesome foundations on which to build a relationship based on trust, with others on again. And it’s happening…it’s definitely happening. Cuddles are coming back in fashion, slowly.

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