This has been something I have been contemplating as I have been sitting at home during this mandatory isolation. Luckily for me, I have an intimate partner and two kids with me, so I am not alone at this time. However, my thoughts were with those people who were possibly isolated and unable to be physically touched by someone close to them.
It has been shown in studies that humans need touch. We need physical contact in order to thrive. Year ago, a study was done in a Romanian orphanage, to follow children who did not receive adequate touch in their early years and without exception, they all had mental, social and emotional handicaps arising from this lack.
During these times of social isolation, I wonder whether we aren’t facing a larger extended crisis of loneliness, despair and disease related to this lack of touch.
This led me to wonder if there were other ways we could ‘touch’ each other?
Our language gives us clues to this, as we often say, “That touched me,” or “Your story touches my heart” even when we are not physically touched. What is this ethereal ‘touch’ and can it benefit us during times of isolation?
The feeling of being touched for me is where a feeling, an emotion and a thought all line up. I see the beautiful sunset, and there is a sensation of my heart swelling out in my chest which makes me feel full of love and this leads to thoughts of being at one with the universe. Perhaps you read a story that touched you and felt connected to the writer or the character. Maybe it is this feeling of connection that we seek.
So if touch could be felt through connection, then it is important to find opportunities and ways to connect. These connections must be a felt sense in our body, and must also elicit an emotional response on some level. Can we do that without actual, physical touch?
I am not sure if physical touch can ever be replaced, but feeling ‘touched’ and connected definitely helps.
Having a somatic practice could be an obstacle at times like these, but it can also be an incredible opportunity to feel connected to our surroundings, to ourselves, to our loved ones, and to the universe. Right now, I can feel my bum on the chair, my feet on the stool, the cooler air on my face, the keys on the computer under my fingers. I can focus on these sensations and find meaning and connection to my world.
What sensations are you noticing right now? Close your eyes. Breathe. Feel.
These are the physical types of touch.
Now close your eyes again, and imagine someone you love, remember a poignant memory, see in your mind’s eye a beautiful place you love.
These are also ways to be touched.
Let’s not give up on a world where we can have physical touch and intimacy as part of our daily experience, but let’s also not forget we have many other resources to fall back on if we need them.
My somatic coaching practice is still open for business! Book a free consult if you are interested to explore your connection to yourself through your body.