“I wonder what allows you to give so much of yourself in this specific and special way Nancy? ”
I have been asked similar questions before and I find that it offers me a wonderful opportunity to reflect.
There is no single defining moment that brought me to recognise the importance of touch and it’s incredible value to others.
I recognise that many people (though not all) do appreciate platonic touch in their lives but wouldn’t consider putting themselves in the position of facilitating touch and cuddling with a stranger.
So why is it different for me?
I guess there’s this deep, innate knowing that there is real healing and comfort to be found in just being held. That is, being held by someone you can trust and feel safe with. And not everyone has a person that fits that.
There is so much humanity absent in this world and this is my way of bringing some of that humanity back.
But I suppose that doesn’t answer the question of what allows me to give this of myself?
And I can’t explain that.
Sometimes I look for answers within me and sometimes I just let it be, content with the “not knowing”.
I don’t expect everyone to understand what it is I do and why I do it.
People may squirm at the thought of cuddling a stranger or judge my work.
I’m ok with that.
Does everyone understand all that you do?
Do you understand all that you do?
Sometimes we can spend so long looking for reasons, for answers that we forget to just be, to enjoy and celebrate who we are.
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.
“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.