A Simple Self-Care Practice

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week so in this video I share with you a short and simple practice to help support you on your journey to good mental health.

It’s both mindful and beautiful and can really support us in connecting deeper to ourselves and our sense of touch.

This type of conscious touch also stimulates our vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve originates in the brain stem and extends down our neck and into our abdomen. It is linked to our lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestines. What impacts the vagus nerve impacts all of these organs. You know when you’re under stress and you suddenly need to empty your bowels or you feel your heart racing?

The vagus nerve is an area within our brain that plays a vital role in regulating many of our body’s key functions including blood pressure. When the touch we receive is pleasant to experience our blood pressure drops due to this vagus nerve stimulation and supports us in feeling calmer and more secure whilst also boosting our immune system.

Warm, safe touch is looking like one of the easiest and best catalysts for shifting the body and mind out of stress and into greater relaxation. Although the consensual touch from another may bring a more powerful vagus response we can certainly activate our vagus nerve through self-comforting touch such as this. Stress relief, relaxation and a deeper connection to oneself, all through a simple touch.

Take your time with this practice.

Close your eyes and really immerse yourself in the experience.

The Heart Knows

“When a person finally feels safe enough to talk about their trauma openly or even speak admissions privately to themselves, a bold and powerful moment is born. And in the midst of these initial breaths are the tender, courageous steps towards healing.
Opening typically comes organically in nature, yet I have seen it rushed before its time. I have seen unseasonable temperatures press the fragile bud to break too early. When the air gently warms the supple heart, it will open in its own way. The heart knows when it feels safe and warm enough to unfurl.”

A passage from the book Open Passages by Susan Frybort.

This is why my work with touch and cuddling is such a powerful experience.

There is no expectation to open up, to share or talk.

There is no expectations of healing or fixing.

I am not taking notes or analysing you.

People don’t come to me looking for answers.

What the human touch offers is so very raw and real.

Simply put it is just a human being in the loving presence of another.

To be seen, held and heard even if what is being heard is silence.

And in that space a miniscule shaft of light invites that opening and unfurling.

“The heart knows when it feels safe and warm enough to unfurl.”

Hopefully, soon, I will be able to resume this very important in-person work.

Two’s Company

Coming very soon….Twos Company – bringing my work outside.

Now that spring has arrived and with the promise of warmer days these sessions offer the opportunity of a shared walk and quality time together.

Enjoying each other’s company we will take a relaxing walk, find a nice bench to sit or scenic spot to rest.

Bring a flask or non-alcoholic drink and we can chat or simply enjoy the views of nature or people watching if in a park.

Alternatively, bring a book and we can stop and read together.

The perfect opportunity for holding hands or walking arm in arm and a gentle introduction to closeness.

And if you have a dog feel free to bring them along too.

A Quiet Hug or a Conversational Cuddle?

Some people wonder what actually happens in a Compassionate Touch and Cuddle session other than, well…… touch and hugs.

Do we chat or are we quiet?

Is the session in silence or is there background music?

If we talk what do we talk about?

And my answer to that is all of the above.

I always ask at the beginning of a session “what do you need from this session?”

“What would make you feel more at ease?”

There is no expectation to talk.

About anything.

My job is to hold the space for you and let it unfold naturally.

I am not here to fix you or take away your worries but more to offer a soft place of caring for your feelings to land.

Can we trust this space to open up, whether there is deep silence or conversational chatter, into an authentic experience?

Boundaries and Consent

A core part of any cuddle session, whether on-line or in-person is establishing boundaries and consent.

I make clear expectations very early in conversations before a session even takes place to ensure clients are provided with clear information as to what is acceptable and what is not. What this sevice provides and what it does not.

But, it doesn’t end there.

At the beginning of every session I give further clarification and check in with you as to what boundaries and consent means to you and clear up any misunderstandings.

I want you to have a good grounding in what this actually means in practice.

We then actually put this into practice with specific exercises.

It’s so very important for us all gain confidence in giving and receiving consent.

It’s the building block to trust.

Particularly saying and hearing “No”.

And, if you don’t hear a clear “Yes” then it must be taken as a “No”. There are no grey areas.

Yes = Yes (at any point that can be revoked verbally or physically such as pulling away)

No = No.

No answer or the person is undecided = No

If there is ANY doubt the answer is “No”.

All in the knowledge that an answer can be revoked at any time. So a “Yes” may become a “No” if the person changes their mind.

This empowers us to advocate for ourselves which creates a more meaningful and successful session.

In fact, for people who have experienced unsolicited or inappropriate touch (and surprisingly many of us have) or who have difficulties expressing their touch wishes a whole session might be based around practicing boundaries and consent without any touch taking place.