Touch Me… Please!

Via Freya Watson
on Apr 10, 2013
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Photo courtesy of Flickr
Photo courtesy of Flickr

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It was two in the morning and I was awake again, tossing and turning under the quilt with a restless yearning. My body had been used to being held, loved, stroked and pleasured, and it was suffering withdrawal symptoms.

I’d been separated—and celibate—for almost a year and was badly missing intimate physical contact. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I couldn’t find a massage therapist or a casual partner. I’d had plenty of massages, but none of them quite hit the spot. And casual partners weren’t exactly abundant at the time, for some reason. It wasn’t sex I was after, anyway—it was loving touch. The kind of touch a new lover naturally showers on their beloved in the early days of exploration and wonder.

I knew what I needed and was willing to ask, but finding it was another story. Luckily the dry period didn’t last long, though, and pretty soon my body was again feeling that happy glow that comes with being touched with love.

In the years since, when I take time off writing to see clients for healing, I’ve noticed how common it is to see people whose whole energy is begging, ‘touch me—please!’ Not that they’re necessarily aware of it, or looking for me to touch them. It’s just that they may not have had intimate contact with another person in years, and may have even forgotten how to allow themselves to be touched. Even if they’re in a relationship and sexually active, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are experiencing true intimacy and loving touch. Sex and intimacy don’t always go together. I wonder how many people go through adult life without being properly touched?

Our bodies are built for connection. Not just a casual hug or hand on the shoulder.

We’re built to thrive on love, and intimate touch is a natural physical manifestation of love. And by intimate touch I mean the kind that says ‘I’m right here, fully present with you, in this moment,’ rather than intimacy which is just about genital contact. It’s an intimacy which can be shared with anyone we love, not just sexual partners. Studies have shown that the cells in our bodies expand when they feel love and contract when they feel its opposite, and our ability to use our touch to transmit that energy to another is an innate gift which we all carry.

Modern society is moving further and further away from touch as a natural, integrated part of everyday life.

To fill the gap, we have created services that people buy and sell, but it’s not that same and we’re losing touch with our own natural ability to bring healing and pleasure to those close to us.

Massage is needed in the world because love has disappeared. Once the very touch of lovers was enough. A mother touched the child, played with his body, and it was massage. The husband played with the body of his woman and it was massage; it was enough, more than enough. It was deep relaxation and part of love. But that has disappeared from the world. By and by we have forgotten where to touch, how to touch, how deep to touch. In fact touch is one of the most forgotten languages.” ~ Osho from ‘Hammer on the Rock’

Reawakening that ability for loving touch can be one of the simplest and most beautiful gifts to ourselves and our loved ones. At its most basic, just showing up and being willing to touch someone with the intention of bringing healing or love can be a comforting experience for another. And sometimes it’s as easy as that. We may shy away from placing soothing hands on an aching back or stroking a tense head, thinking drugs or a doctor are more efficient, or not wanting to spend the time. Surprisingly, though, it can be all that’s needed to shift a mood, lighten discomfort, or unlock a deeper emotional layer that’s ready to be cleared. More importantly, touch connects people and increases that sense of trust and love in the world in a way that doctors and drugs struggle to do.

In essence, reclaiming our ability to lovingly touch another—whether child, friend or lover—can be as straightforward as practicing the following four qualities. The more often we practice them, the deeper our touch can go.

Clear intention. Be clear about why you want to touch another and stay focused on that intention. Are you intending to create a sense of well-being? Or pleasure? Or comfort? Whatever it is, be clear in your mind about it before you start. As an experiment, ask a friend to close their eyes and try two variations of the same touch—stroke their arm once while thinking of your favorite movie and then a second time while intending that they feel your love. Then ask if they noticed any difference.

Love. It sounds simple to say ‘love the one you’re with’ but it’s not always that easy to access a feeling of love for someone at the drop of a hat. So find another way in to the energy—twiddle that internal dial until you find that feeling of love somewhere inside (try music, or the face of a lover, or the memory of a warm summer’s day). Use your mind or senses to find a catalyst that can bring you back to a deep feeling of love, then refocus the energy on the person you’re with.

Presence. You can’t hear what another’s body is trying to say to you if your mind is busy, so bring that mind fully into the moment! Focus on the sensation of touch, or on synchronizing your breathing with the person you’re touching, if you need to have something to keep the mind busy with. Being present brings a stillness, and intuition reaches us through that stillness.

Trust. Trust that you can bring a sense of well-being and love to another by touching them. Trust that somewhere deep inside, you know how and where to touch them. Then follow your instincts, get on with it and see where it leads you.

Feelings of pleasure and well-being aren’t just for the lucky one who’s being touched, either.

The beauty of feeling another opening under your touch and discovering the depths that can be hidden in the body brings with it a deeper connection to the mysteries of life as well as a sense of profound gratitude for this simple gift. So find a partner and get touching! Then teach your kids.

 

*

Relephant Read: 

The Cuddle Sutra & the Benefits of Touch Therapy 

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


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About Freya Watson

How we ground our heart-felt truths into the everyday experience of relationships, work and family is the foundation for a lot of my work. Finding our 'truth' is a challenge in itself, but living it day to day is an even bigger challenge. My books are available on Amazon and you can also find me on Facebook and read more on my blog.

Comments

78 Responses to “Touch Me… Please!”

  1. Judy says:

    I see your points better now, and I agree. I meant to tell you that someone as thoughtful as you on these matters need not deprive him or herself, because a truly kind and loving relationship could give you even more positive energy to do good things. Being part of a loving, respectful couple working together to improve their community teaches younger people by example. If the right person crosses your path, I wanted to encourage you to let yourself have that kind of happiness with confidence that your logic will not evaporate! I do also agree that loss and grief, when they come, are very difficult to handle. An awareness of their inevitability and daily gratitude that they have not arrived as yet is part of what helps remind one to be more patient and loving. Sorry to be such a busy-body, at least I'm a well-meaning one! Perhaps part of this is convincing myself to think smaller, because when I try to think about larger world problems, I have a tendency to become lost and paralyzed.

  2. Freya Watson says:

    I've been enjoying this exchange, and it has a depth to it that this exchange of comments can't really do justice to. I see the human yearning for touch as similar to the human yearning for food or water – a fundamental need for nourishment. I'm not talking about the craving for a high that would be similar to that experienced in an addictive situation. The deprivation experienced by not having a basic need met can, in itself, result in craziness while having that need met can leave us peacefully able to get on with life. When a basic need is met, there's no need to be constantly thinking about it.

  3. Freya Watson says:

    (second part – it wouldn't let me post the whole reply in one go!)

    But, having said that, what you're touching on in your comments is also an issue – although I see it as a different one to what I was intending to raise in my article. I do see that people confuse touch with sex, and that an unhealthy relationship to sexuality can lead to an imbalanced mind (and body). I still wouldn't advocate withdrawal as a way to deal with it, though. I would be suggesting a renewed connection with the naturalness of the body as the way to heal this.

    Thank you again for the interesting comments, and for the respect with which you've posted them. I hope other readers also find depth in the exchange.

  4. Amy says:

    I wish my husband would read this.

  5. DAB says:

    This is why I have cried the few times I have had a massage. Thank you for validating the feelings I cannot seem to resonate with my husband.

  6. caregivingstinks says:

    "Modern society is moving further and further away from touch as a natural, integrated part of everyday life." Wow, that caught my eye. We would probably define ourselves as enlightened, liberated, tolerant, etc. when we're really uptight. I wonder how much video/photo porn, sexting and the life have to do with the breakdown of touch?

    Very much enjoyed this thought provoking article. There are so many life situations that drop people into the sensory deprivation that you describe. I hear it from care givers of disabled spouses, for example.

  7. And says:

    This is really difficult for me to even read, after years of explaining to my wife that I NEED this (and giving her at least weekly massages, and daily intimate touching) I still can't get anything more than a once a year massage for my birthday. Her excuse is that that is just not how she expresses her love, but she clearly likes to receive love in that fashion, and will even start physically nudging me when I stop rubbing her back while we lay in bed. Frustrating.

  8. Freya Watson says:

    Thank you for the extra depth you've added here… I've also wondered how much of the porn/sexting activity is due to sensory deprivation.

  9. Freya Watson says:

    So often women think it's a women's 'issue' but my experience is anything but that. I have heard from so many men that they feel this lack in their lives – and somehow it seems a much harder one for them to address in a social context. Much love to you, dear reader. May you find a way to connect that brings happiness.

  10. alawrenced says:

    I just wrote a blog post inspired by this beautiful article. Thank you! http://spirituwellness.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/t

  11. Freya Watson says:

    I'm going to hop over and have a look this evening! Thank you for sharing the link.

  12. Mirchi says:

    Really nice. A touch can actually make people happy and feel relaxed and relieved and as aptly mentioned by you "It’s an intimacy which can be shared with anyone we love, not just sexual partners". so the touch intention matters 🙂

  13. I love this post, truly. (and I'd love to read the study about cells expanding and contracting with love and it's opposite, if you know where to find it) The disembodied hand in the picture, however, makes the title "Touch me… please!" slightly creepy. Cousin It, this article was not directed at you… but nice photobomb.

  14. I work in the emergency room where I touch people for 12 hours a shift. I never thought that I would be the one who needed to be touched. But I yearn for another’s touch. I am married with kids but it never seems like its enough. Yes we all need to be touched. Thank you for a beautiful article about this need.

  15. shelly says:

    Freya ~ This is the most articulate and real article I've read on Elephant Journal. Thank you for writing it. Paying it forward!

  16. Tom says:

    A big problem is the sexualisation of touch. How many guys are afraid of reaching out to touch for fear of their advances being seen as some sleazy come on? On the flip side, how many women use the with-holding of touch as a bargaining chip to further their own agendas in 'friendship' or relationship. I know a guy in his 50's who has never experienced intimate touch, but always harsh judgements and power games. Over the years he has stopped trusting womens authenticity in this area period. Its a fucked up world!

  17. nadia says:

    Zoe, totally agree. Unfortunately my relationship ended, but historically I wasn't used to touch as neither was she, and this was, by far, the best experience. We'd touch for hours. It was, indeed, mind-blowing.

  18. Anon says:

    Just wanted to say thanks. Am crying here as haven't been touched, kissed or hugged in several years since marriage break up. Nice to climb in bed sometimes when kids want a hug.

  19. Martina Mols Curley says:

    I think that touch does not have to be sexual but nurturing. As a former massage therapist, I was licensed to touch perfect strangers in a very ethical and loving way and the energy exchange was incredibly beneficial both to the client and to me. We all need touch for our well being. The touch of a mother to a child, a brother or sister or best friend can be as healing as words if not more because our heart is doing the touching and it has nothing to do with sexuality, This society associates touch with sex and, while we humans need that intimacy too, there are thousands ways to touch someone.

  20. Yeoman Roman says:

    I have been saying for years, touch is the first language, music is the second, spoken language is the third.

  21. Marge says:

    I totally agree with some of the above comments concerning the oversexualization of our society. Personally, I have found it nearly impossible to begin touching anybody except my own parents in a loving way without the situation getting sexual undertones. Especially with the opposite sex this simply does not work, and with the increasing media hype concerning homosexual relationships I find this harder also with those of the same sex. Loving touch is usually misunderstood as a signal of wanting sex – and often also used for just that purpose. And when the other person misunderstands the meaning of touch and begins to get too intimate, I would have to put boundaries and push them away – which many seem to take as a sign of rejection and close up entirely as a result. So my solution has been to limit touching people to a more superficial and "safe" way – still craving for that non-sexual, intimate, loving connection with people around me. The western world is really sex-grazy. I'm so glad people in Africa and Latin America still know how to show love in a non-sexual way!

  22. Elien says:

    I completely related to your article and I think it is relevant for a lot of people, in our society. Since I am single, this is the biggest problem I have come upon…Being alone has never been a problem for me, I'm enjoying the time I can spend on myself and in silence…I don't mind having dinner alone, I love to go to the movies by myself, I can practice yoga everyday, I have a busy social life…But I miss touch. I miss intimacy, so very much. I am a physical person, I need touch, I need sex and gentle touching of a person I love…onenight stands don't do it for me, unless the person really cares about me. But if it's just sex it's not enough and I feel empty and a little bit sad afterwards. I don't want to settle for a relationship because I miss intimacy, but I'm really wondering, what if I am single for quite some years? How will I make up for the longing of physical intimacy? I hug friends and family, but still it doesn't seem to be enough. I'm not sad or feeling pathetic, but it is an issue I am struggling with…

  23. Dan/JoeBawb/Joebob says:

    Hey Freya… a new/recent reader here.

    I don't know how valid my opinion is, as I'm only a young man (24, turning 25 in literally a month) but in my most recent relationship I have learned how important it is to just touch my current partner in a more loving an gentle manner.

    Let me first point out that I am male, and I have always been… even now, a sexually active person. Sex has been probably the most important thing for me as a young man… feeling that it was the most important connection to have with a partner.

    In my most current relationship, a relationship in which sexual intercourse itself didn't happen for the first 11 months… I have realised what I missed in every relationship past where sex was something that happened within the first month previously.

    I realised that although sex was a great experience, and that in the past I had both great sex and not so great sex (bad sex is a myth, right?) but I still didn't feel what it was like to truly be intimate with a partner of the opposite sex. The cuddling after sex, that usually ended up being the closeness during sleep, was what I truly ended up enjoying. An arm around the woman I shared my bed with, or her arm around me… that was where I was happiest. If that wasn't happening, I doubted myself as a person.

    Now, recently in my not-so-sexual relationship… I've begun to appreciate that a loving touch… either a simple back rub, holding hands, holding her in my arms against my chest or whatever other embrace happened… the moment it ends, I miss it. I don't just miss it here and there… I depressingly cannot live without it. I cannot function without the feel of her arms around me or mine around hers.

    Maybe I've replaced sex with cuddles as my form of intimacy… but the way I see it I replaced one volatile connection with one that enables me to truly appreciate the love and connection with my partner.
    I have never felt more safe and "at home" than I have in the arms of my lover. I am happy, I am loved, and I am wanted in those arms… and that is, in it's most pure form, where I thrive.

    Thankyou for sharing your article.

  24. Jim Carter says:

    Freya,

    I get the feeling you will feel it when I say I can relate to the subject matter.Thank you.

  25. Marylen Reid says:

    It’s nice to see that more people understand that! It is now possible to buy such loving touch if we need it. At the Cuddlery (www.cuddlery.ca), we try to give this affection needed.

  26. Robert says:

    Two words: Thank you! Ever since my wife left me over a year ago and the eventual very quick divorce that I endured I have struggled to find a way to express to friends and family that this is exactly what I have been feeling. To go from being able intimately connect with a life partner to absolutely no intimate contact with anyone is like a nuclear explosion of frustration. I have had no other partners since she left. Completely celibate because of moral and religious reasons; but I would like to think that Physical intimacy is more than just what the world tells us it is.

    While, I didn't know my wife was going to leave and may have been cheating for sometime there were authentic, tender moments we shared and a simple touch, a hug, a kiss, a massage of the neck is something that can never be quite replicated and is a void that can never be entirely filled again once lost.

    Your article articulates very well what those of us experience this on a daily (or even minute by minute) basis. I wish people understood.

  27. Mirtha says:

    Aaaaah… human touch. after my divorce, I was celibate (by choice) for 5.5 years. I had a baby to take care of and a full time job to keep me busy, not to mention a broken heart to mend. I’ve never felt lonely or thought I had to have a man in my life, but being touched I missed terribly. I was married to an-almost-nymphomaniac for seven years! I went from 90 to 0 overnight. There was a much younger co-worker, we liked each other, but I knew it wouldn’t be more than a “booty call”, when he transferred we all went out for drinks, in the parking lot he hugged me and my knees almost gave out, I melted. It took all my will power to say no when he called later that night. Touch is magical.

  28. Laura says:

    I am crying while reading this. I have such a deep need for loving, tender, non-sexual touching that the lack of it feels physically painful to me. I feel like my whole body and soul is slowly starving without loving touch. I am married and have a OK sex life but it severely lacks intimacy and true connection. One shouldn't feel lonely and deprived after having sex. Then surely the sex is the wrong kind!!! I am glad to see there are more people in the world that feel the painful loss of true connection. This is truly sad.

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