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After our industrial civilisation has broken and the civilisation of
touch has begun, war will cease, there will be no more wars.
(DH Lawrence in Future War)
Early Bonding Touch
Screenshot of Spiderweb Weave rope bondage ±12m
(Rory's Brainworks; fair use, educational)
'Doctor Peyo' brings peace (The Guardian; fair use, educational)
Woman Hugs Tree
Man walks amidst the Four Elements
Hands Fun Touch
Touch of Light
Kids Touch Magic
| Culture of Touch
As an animal, our first language was not words. It was body and energy sensations - in the womb, during birth, and postpartum. This is the universal, primal, and all-important language of Touch.
The Culture of Touch is a society based on healthy bonding and attachment parenting, as well as using touch as an angelic or magical act. It is closely allied to the Culture of Love.
So, what does this all mean in real or daily life? Explore these:-
Touch is so foundational to the start of life, but modern society has displaced it in favour of hands-off medicine and tech. The ancient way of warm, compassionate touch has been overridden by cold, clinical touch - and often by invasive and even abusive touch.
Kara Maria Ananda explains this well in an article 'The Primal Touch of Birth...', which is summarised here of which the following is an extract:
'The medical model of birth ignores and trivializes the therapeutic value of touch during pregnancy and childbirth. In the medical model, childbearing is analyzed from a pathological and intellectual perspective. Obstetrical and gynecological practices support the deprivation of human touch, pathologize the female body, increase childbearing morbidity [adverse effects] and place women in a subservient role to the institution.
However, pregnancy is not a pathological event or an intellectual construct; it is a healthy, primal and life-giving process. Compassionate touch of the mother during pregnancy and childbirth is essential for the development of maternal touching of the infant. Tactile stimulation of the newborn is necessary for healthy development and immunological resistance.'
In this video (3 minutes 47 seconds, posted 2016, accessed 2 August 2016), obstetrician Michel Odent tells us we have a crisis. We have controlled nature too much, rather than flowed with it. He tells us that most women today do not give birth with their own hormones, because they can use synthetic hormones, a drip, an epidural, drugs or Caesarean section. This means that most women globally do not have to release a flow of love hormones to birth babies. This is absolutely new to humans.
Do we want to create a society which is not founded on love, affection, touch?
Breastfeeding is a clear demonstration of how far we are from a Culture of Touch.
Only 1%-2% of women in the UK exclusively breastfeed for six months (BBC, posted 10 February 2017, accessed 11 February 2017), yet this is the minimum recommended by WHO (dated 2017, accessed 11 February 2017). Also see here.
Mothers are regularly attacked by society for public or extended breastfeeding. They are even threatened with social services or accused of child molestation. See here.
The basis of early life touch is the practice of attachment parenting, including baby wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding.
In Why Love Matters, Sue Gerhardt explains why love is essential to brain development in the early years of life, and how early interactions between babies and their parents have lasting and serious consequences. It uses the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology and biochemistry.
Swaddling is not recommended. It may seem like a good fit as it can calm and help baby to sleep. But, as Wendy Priesnitz says, it 'seems to conflict with the emotional care that is the basis of attachment parenting and other conscious ways of being with children, in addition to having some physical problems.' Notably, skin-to-skin contact is disrupted.
Holding someone's hand or hugging someone is such a human thing to do at times of great joy and sorrow. See here. Respect people's boundaries if they say or show that they do not want to be touched or hugged.
Touch is also an all-important part of friendship and tribal stability. It is an ongoing need.
During coronavirus lockdown, people were less satisfied with digital connection and wanted face-to-face interaction, including physical touch (see here).
Some sources of comforting touch include: early life, massage, animals, nature, self-touch, dance and intimate relationships.
In today’s society, beware that not everyone likes touch (probably due to disrupted attachment when growing up).
And of course there is the unwanted #MeToo sexual harassment type touch as well as the daily abuse of the visually impaired (always ask before touching).
Nevertheless, gentle touch is socially vital to all primates, reinforcing social bonds.
As touch tends to happen more unconsciously, it is easy to underestimate its contribution to our mental health, pleasure and our sense of group harmony. Also see:-
This can be hugs or handshakes or other traditions.
The most spiritually powerful ritual that I have been taught is the Māori hongi.
Learn how here. I was taught (by Matiu Te Huki) that we hold each other by the shoulders, lean in, allow our noses and foreheads to gently touch, then close eyes, breathe and be present for a while (seconds to minutes even).
When our noses and foreheads gently touch, there is an exchange of energy between our third eye chakras:
"We remember that we are interrelated and that we are part of the Oneness of everything that exists". (Dr Rangimarie Turuki Rose Peri, Māori Elder, 1m12s)
"People need to be touched. They want to be touched. We grow through touch. We feel connected through touch." (Denise Knowles, Relate counsellor and sex therapist, BBC, 7m59s, posted and accessed 30 November 2017)
The Culture of Touch applied to intimate relationships is more about affectionate touch than sex. Pleasure alone does not necessarily bring extended happiness. The reason sex can equate with greater long-term happiness is because of the accompanying cuddling. It's more than just sex. Affection connects sexual activity and well-being. We need more than just sex. See here and here. Also see 4 Kinds of Intimate Touch, here.
An interesting form of intimate touch comes from safe, consensual rope bondage. This can also be practised alone and be non-sexual. Here, Rory's Brainworks explains why 'rope bunnies' enjoy being tied up. A big part of it is compression or touch therapy. This is firm but gentle squeezing, hugging and holding of the body. This 'deep pressure stimulation' switches us from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). It brings to your body: wellness, peace, calm. Anxieties are forgotten, you travel to a blissful meditative world.
Self-touch is about treating your physical body with care and love:
'Remind yourself that being human means not being perfect all the time, and give yourself compassionate touches: [psychologist Kristin] Neff suggests stroking your hand as you would to soothe a friend.'
Dr Laurie Santos (The Guardian, posted 8 January 2021, accessed 30 September 2021)
Of course there is masturbation:
'Masturbation improves immune functioning by increasing cortisol levels, which can regulate immune functioning in small doses.'
(Spring Chenoa Cooper/Anthony Santella, The Independent, posted/accessed 15 May 2015)
But neglected is simply spending time with your body:
'Lovingly touch and stroke yourself - with no goal other than to love and nurture yourself - just for the pleasure of meeting yourself - touch is so important to us humans - it changes our chemistry and guess what??? YES it too boosts our immune system...' (Peter Warnock, 9 April 2020 email)
Touch in health is where complementary and alternative health (CAM) is integrated into the national health system. This will include CAM like reflexology, acupressure, Indian head massage, aromatherapy massage, etc. Currently only 5 of 200+ CAM modalities are available on the NHS. Most health issues that doctors encounter are chronic and very suited to CAM, including many that involve healing touch.
This is the healing presence of therapy animals in hospitals, care homes, petting zoos and so on, where they can be touched and stroked.
It is also the use of therapy animals with delinquents and criminals to teach respect for others and for life.
Milt Lessner, a 104 year old who has had dogs all his life, thinks dogs are the secret to longevity, especially the bonding. He is a retired psychiatrist and used to bring dogs to his work to help relax patients.
'Doctor Peyo' is a horse in France that has a remarkable ability to reduce anxiety and pain in dying patients. He is more effective than drugs. Not only does he comfort patients, but also the medical staff! He also detects distress and illness. Read about him here.
'Doctor Peyo' brings peace
Have you ever hugged a tree?
Or felt the softness of a rose's petals?
Or the rough texture of bark?
"I love the energy from the trees. If ever you feel tired or fed up in life, it’s really important to take yourselves back to nature. If you’re feeling tired and you hug a tree, you can get the most amazing energy. Just calm your mind, ground your feet on the grass, hug that tree – and you will get the most amazing vibrations from the tree." (Gemma Collins)
More on tree hugging here.
Earth brings us a solid stage to stand upon and nutritious food.
Water cleanses all things and quenches thirst.
Air allows us to breathe and is closely associated with life.
Fire keeps us warm and illuminated.
Take a moment to give deep thanks that we can touch these simple things so vital to life.
When touch and exercise combine in a supportive synergy, we are likely to see win-win activities. This could be fun games where we all use our bodies to seek a win-win goal. Or it could be certain types of dance, from sacred dance like paneurhythmy to community dance.
Maybe we need to eat more with our hands?
"We make people eat with their hands. And why by hand? Because I finally took pride in being an Indian. Feel it, feel its temperature, feel its sensuality, whether it's fragile or it's hard or it's wet or it's cold or it's hot - which only can be felt when you touch it." (Gaggan Anand, Indian chef, BBC, 1m17s, posted and accessed 15 January 2019)
We can also impart the food with healing energy and positivity from our hands.
It immerses us more in the moment and allows us to make eating sacred.
"When you need to use an object, remember to handle it gently. For in a way, all objects are alive, and they retain what happens around them. They are like a photographer’s sensitive plates: they could be made to tell many of the events they have witnessed.
Even if it is hard for you to accept, embrace the idea that all the objects you touch become imbued with your emanations. In every room of the house in which you live, there are thus objects covered with layers that are good or bad conductors of light from the world on-high. And if hateful thoughts and feelings, malicious words and evil looks are cast upon these objects, they also become like magnets: they attract the evil currents that circulate through space. Consequently, be attentive so that through your words, thoughts, and feelings, the objects around you become magnets that will attract only light, joy, beauty, and even health, spreading them all around you." (O.M. Aïvanhov)
This refers to touch that is inexplicable by science. Esoteric science teaches that we live in an etheric continuum, whereby everything is connected. We might believe we are separate beings, but we can touch others through projecting energy as thought, emotion and spiritual energies.
Beings that resonate very closely with the divine worlds will naturally emanate healing and light from their auras and touch and soothe those nearby. For this reason, Jesus said to us (Matthew 5: 16): "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Magical or Angelic Touch
"In whatever you do, think only of spreading beneficial influences. You can do this by means of your hands, which are among the best instruments for transmitting them. When you caress the head of someone you love, instead of seeking egotistical pleasure, concentrate on your hands and say, ‘May God bless you. May light reign in this head, and may all angels come and make their home here.’ At this moment, your love will no longer be sensual; it will be transformed into a beneficial energy and will also bring you an extraordinary sensation of joy and expansion. And when you touch the head of your child, or its small arms and legs, bless them as well, so that the angels come and make them a magnificent being. Learn to bless everything you touch: objects, food, and other beings. This is true white magic." (O.M. Aïvanhov)
"To touch and hold somebody, it’s not just about affection, it’s saying we are together."
(Mónica Silva, Peruvian dance therapist/choreographer, quoted in The Guardian, posted and accessed 6 January 2023)
4 Kinds of Intimate Touch
Birth Obstacles - Sexual Abuse
Natural Family Living
Women & Failure
Culture of Love
Solar Culture & Sun
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