One of the family traditions I’d like my children to continue and pass on is the washing of one another’s feet and regular massages. We did it less as we got older, and I nearly forgot entirely, but this was such a beautiful and caring interaction for a gaggle of heavily traumatized people.
No matter what else was happening, that bit of loving touch and service brightened the day, the mood, the situation. Even when we had our differences. In this touch-starved culture, simple things make the biggest difference.
Not all people enjoy hugs or sex or even holding hands. Some are weird about their feet (I have been cuz I’m incredibly ticklish). But, there are still healthy ways to have our sensual needs met.
We die without human touch; didn’t you know?
Everyone has differing levels of sensual needs, but we certainly all started out — and still need — a particular level for our wellness.
Massages and washing feet are seen as the province and privilege of the rich, but really are just mandatory parts of life (I mean healthy, non-sexual, and soothing touch in general) with so many fucking health benefits. How much better would people with chronic pain feel if they were just cuddled often?
A lot of health issues result from stress and traumas that distort the nervous system, anyway. We are literally embedded with the shock and upset. It may seem childish to say we all just need a good, long hug… but yeah, it’s true for many.
It’s the same reason you hold an inconsolable baby. Sometimes shit is just too much, whether positive or negative, and receiving loving touch literally resets your nervous system. It helps your digest what you’ve experienced. One calm heartbeat can alter the chemistry of an entire room.
Nowadays, I meet my need with music. The thrum along my skin is…I don’t even have words. It doesn’t substitute for human touch, though. Animal helpers can soothe some of it as well, and sensory deprivation (oxymoronically enough). Yet, time and again, it’s touch by our own kind, consensual touch, that will do wonders for the body and mind.
I’ve made it a point to be more physically affectionate with my children than I ever received… well, ever. The deep sense of their bodies and the joy and pride they developed is astounding, remarkable, and so wonderful. They have more kinesthetic awareness, respect for personal space, and understand their bodies from the inside out.
The human being is a remarkable animal, and it’s a damn shame that so many people feel so separated from their body, their constant home here on earth.