You might say, “Oh, I was so touched by your gift.” Or “I used to watch the TV show, “Touched by An Angel.” You could go to a practitioner for a kind of body work called Healing Touch. Or you may make a conscious effort to get in touch withsomeone who is sick and ailing or saddened with grief. You might pet your cat or dog because that contact, that touch, is soothing and beneficial to both human and animal.
The sense of touch is one of the five senses that includes sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. In earlier lessons we explored the senses of sight and sound. Now we give particular attention to touch and what it means to us in the world and in the spiritual sense. In yoga, we study one of the eight limbs of classic yoga called pratyahara, the control of the senses. We learn new ways to be conscious of how the senses impact our lives, how to use them to enhance our everyday life, and, ultimately, if we wish, we learn to detach from them as much as possible.
LESSON TWENTY ONE
THE SENSE OF TOUCH
The skin is the largest sensory organ of the body. It is our outer “coating” and provides us with valuable information. It protects us by sensing pain so we don’t burn ourselves on a hot stove. It registers the comfort of warmth when the sun soothes our bodies on a cool day. It tells us that we need to put on a coat when we walk outside and feel a chill as a cold wind strikes our bodies. It acts as a source of pleasure when we are touched by certain people in certain ways.
Research has shown that people need to be touched in order to thrive and be happy. Years ago a study revealed that children in an orphanage did not thrive and grow if they were not held and touched. Indeed, some even withered from the lack of touch. Perhaps, even as we age, we are prone to a kind of emotional “withering” if we aren’t touched in some way by those around us. Notice that we may shake hands on meeting someone new or hug and give a kiss on the cheek or an “air” kiss. A high-five is a form of touch as is a pat on the back or an athlete awarding another team member with a body bump.
But what does all of this have to do with a spiritual life and becoming lighter and happier? We can learn to use the sense of touch to improve and enhance our lives. Here are some ideas:
- Think about the clothes you wear and how the fabrics feel against your skin. Do you wear wool sweaters even if they make you itchy? Do you choose stiff fabrics or structured clothing that is not comfortable to wear? Do you wear skin tight jeans, even if your body is “stuffed” into them, just because they make a fashion statement? Think about what you put on your body. It is your decision. Why not be as comfortable as possible. Why not?
- Do you take into account the temperature around you so that you do your best to feel comfortable wherever you are? So you prepare and dress in such a way, taking into account the weather, the temperatures and your activities?
- Aside from comfort, what feels really good next to your skin? A fluffy, soft, fleecy thing? A cashmere sweater? A cozy bath robe? A silky shirt? Soft cotton shorts and tops? Whenever you can, indulge this sense of touch.
- Do you regularly reach out and actually touch those people you love. Do they touch you? It is not too late to start if you feel you are lacking in this area.
- Could you make it a habit to extend your love to others by touching them in meaningful ways, holding a hand or touching an arm, hugging and embracing? I often think of people who may rarely be touched, such as the elderly or infirm or those with disabilities. It takes so little effort to reach out in kindness.
- Become a connoisseur of what pleases your sense of touch, not to be attached to it but to bring pleasure.
I will be very touched if you take this lesson to heart. See how much lighter and happier you will feel with observing yourself and the sense of touch. The more conscious you become about the senses, the more your world will change.
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com