Five Minutes of Bliss: The Soothing Gesture: facing the taboo on self touch

One of the simplest ways to find contentment and sooth yourself if your feathers are ruffled is to touch yourself in a way that feels reassuring and healing.  Each of us may have a different way to do this.  It is a simple path to self connection, portable and extremely comforting.  Inhibitions and cultural norms may have kept us from exploring such personal intimate contact, but we are adults now and get to choose for ourselves what to embrace and what to reject.

I suggest you take some time to explore the possibilities.  In a quiet moment try out some ways of being in physical contact with your self.  Clasp your fingers and let your hands rest in your lap.  See how it feels.  Interlace your fingers.  How is that different? Let one hand hold the wrist of the other hand.  Hold both wrists at once.  Hold your forearms.  Hold your elbows.  Gently hug yourself.  Let your hand or hands rest on different parts of the body.  Try the heart center, your thighs, belly, whatever you fell drawn to.  The only right way is your way.

Fingers Interlaced

soothing gesture holding wrist

clasping forearms comfort of touch

For some reason, when I tried this some years ago, I immediately loved the solidity of holding my forearms and letting them rest on my stomach.  It felt instantly grounding and warm.  Experimenting with it over time I have found this gesture and variations on it comforting over and over again.  It is a special secret way for me to settle down when I'm feeling agitated.  I'm glad I have it.

I used to do this at night in bed when I would be awakened by an unsettling dream.  Lately, I like a lighter touch.  Lying on my side I let my arms rest on each other in front of my body.  This is also soothing for me.

At different times I have been drawn to putting my hand on my cheek or face or head or neck.  When lying on my back I like to cross my ankles so I have a top leg laying across a bottom leg for maximum warm contact.  There are as many ways to do this as there are ways to touch myself, I suppose, but I still have a special fondness for the forearm clasp.  A nice thing about that position, is that it can be done for three or four breaths whenever I have my hands free, giving myself a little self soothing vacation.

I have been hobbled in my personal development by some nasty ideas about authenticity and the value of things.  Somehow in my cultural development, I came to think that activities which are soothing but do not get at the root of a problem are a waste of time.   Now I think this is way off base.  Self soothing is really important.  It can keep you feeling safe while you do the hard work of finding the causes of things, making it less scary to do that kind of work.  If you know you have ways of centering and feeling whole, taking risks is easier to do.  Since all growth comes with some degree of risk, having tools to manage the sense of danger creates a critical layer of safety as a base for exploration.  Besides, taking good care of yourself by making yourself feel good is a nice thing to do.

Another side benefit of getting comfortable with self touch as a means to self soothing is that it has helped me to use soothing touch with friends and loved ones.  Not that I'm suddenly all touchy-feely.  I'm not.  I have lots of boundaries around personal space, but when I think touch is called for I'm more confident sharing it.  Since I have spent time enjoying my own gentle touch, I recognize it as something valuable I can share with others.

Letting yourself relax and ground through small physical gestures can be a great gift to your peace, equanimity and joy in life.  Giving yourself this benefit is a little piece of self care you can administer at any time.  I hope it is as good for you, as it has been for me.

When you do this and have some positive experiences to share or any questions, I'd love to hear about it.

ray greenberg smiles
    New self portrait.

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