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Seven Aspects of Touch

I don’t suppose many of us have had a life without any kind of touch. The truth is we are touched all the time, however we often forget this. Think about it, every time you put on your clothes or sit in a chair or lift your coffee cup to your mouth you have been touched.

These routine types of touch often desensitise our nerve endings so that we hardly even acknowledge that touch is happening. Our bodies get desensitised to something when we either repeatedly do that same thing over and over again or we are not concentrating on what is happening.

The fact that we lift a coffee cup to our mouth and don’t acknowledge the sensation of the touch of the cup on our fingers is because we are so used to doing it. We do it so often that we don’t take the time to feel the texture of the cup against fingers. The only time we take notice is if it’s too hot to handle.

Similarly when we sit down or dress ourselves we don’t notice the sensation of touch unless the chai is uncomfortable or the clothes are too tight.   Those who are in a relationship with another person may walk along holding hands. But after the first throws of romance even holding hands can become routine.

So let’s have a look at seven aspects of touch  

  1. The sensation of touch, when routine, can mean no sensation at all. The next time you put on a shirt or slip on a pair of shoes, revisit the sensation you feel. If someone were to dress you in a darkened room where you couldn’t see the cloths they were putting on you, would you be able to tell the material from which the cloths were made? But don’t wait for someone to dress you in the dark (you could be waiting a long time fir that) the next time you put a piece of clothing on yourself pay attention to the sensation of touch and take time  to contemplate that sensation.
  2. Some people are huggy people. If you are a huggy person chances are that you will hug lots during the course of a week. But there is also a real possibility that you won’t really feel the sensation of touch in your hugs. So here is my challenge to you … the next time somebody hugs you, get to grips with the sensation you feel. How strong is the Hulk? Is it a tender hug or a ‘greeting’ hug? Does it leave you feeling great because of the wellbeing aspect it leaves you with or does it leave you feeling nothing because it is so routine? When you hug the next person take time to notice the fabric they are wearing. And if any parts of your bodies touch without clothing, for example cheeks, hands or anything else for that matter take time to enjoy the sensation of skin against skin.
  3. When was the last time you were intimately touched? I don’t necessarily mean sexually touched although this could be included in what I am about to say. Take for example a massage, probably not sexual but certainly intimate as one person gets very close by touching another person. If you have had a massage before you probably just lay there and enjoy it. But next time enjoy it with a deeper sense of wellbeing by acknowledging that a human being is making physical contact with you through touch. It may be your massage is done fully clothed in which case pay attention to how deep and strong the massages is or how gentle it is. It may be that your massage is done without cloths. Pay attention in this case to the person’s hand making contact with your body. Also pay attention to the oils function (if used) as it smooth's the way to an even greater connection.
  4. We have talked a little bit about the sensation of feeling cloths against your body and you will probably have a favourite item of clothing. But what pieces of clothing are in your wardrobe that do not make you feel fantastic when you put it on? Go through your wardrobe and put to the side anything which makes you feel less than great when you wear it. Just as you will have things in your wardrobe which don’t particularly feel good when you put them on you will also have things which when worn makes you feel fantastic for one reason or another. Clothes are usually functional; in other words in the winter we wear heavy jackets, big boots and scarves and in the summer we wear T-shirts and shorts. But clothes need not only to be functional. Next time you shop from new clothes make them both functional and feel special against your skin.
  5. What about prolonged touch? Who is your cuddle buddy? If you are in a relationship then the chances are your partner is your cuddle buddy. If you are not in an intimate relationship with somebody then you might have a close friend with whom you are able to cuddle. But there are some people who have neither. If you are one of those people you may tell yourself that hugs are overrated or cuddles aren’t important. To me, prolonged hugs (or cuddles) are as important to wellbeing as a clear and healthy mind. I want to emphasise that I am not talking about anything sexual here. Probably the most fulfilling type of intimacy is when two people spent extended time in non-sexual intimacy. Sitting in the evening watching TV or playing with the hair of your partner or stroking their back as you watch TV. Subconsciously you are making important connections with each other. Snuggling up to each other on the coach or simply holding each other without words can increase wellbeing and connection between the two of you. this is such an important part of non-verbal communication between human beings. So you can see this does not need to be between people who are in a relationship it can be between close friends are in some cases even strangers who have given permission to each other to touch and be touched.
  6. Touch is stimulating. Ask anybody who has been tickled how stimulating touch can be. Ask anyone who has been slapped about the sensation of touch. Or ask a child who has fallen and scraped a knee about the comforting touch of a parent after the event. Touch comes in all shapes and forms. We brush past people in the crowd without a second thought. But every touch is a connection every brush with another person is another building block in life.   7.       Wherever you are right now while reading this, there are many things for you to touch. Even without you getting up from your seat you will be able to reach 2, 3, 10, 20 different things. Have a go now. If you are reading this on a computer touch the screen. How does it feel, hot or cold smooth or rough? What about the top you are wearing? Take time to touch it now. How does it feel against your fingers? What about the chair you are setting in or the floor you’re sitting on, touch it with your bare hand and pay attention to the material it is made of. Are your feet bare? Are they touching a carpet and wooden floor? Are you sitting on a bus? How hard is the seat? Look at the person beside you are opposite you and look at the jacket they are wearing. Sift through your memory bank. How do you imagine the jacket they are wearing feels? Are you sitting outside in the garden what touch-sensations do you feel around you?   Hopefully by now you are beginning to understand how important touch is in your everyday life and that while yesterday you may have gone through the whole day touching things, today you will be touching the same things but with a deeper appreciation of the wellbeing touch can bring and the benefits of being able to feel something, anything against your body.   In my opinion touch is a vital part of living. Just as we sometimes put food into our mouth but don’t take time to taste the ingredients, often we touch things without taking the time to fully appreciate the benefits touch brings.

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