To touch hearts. To touch skin. To touch the moment with breath.
I love touch and I miss being touched. Just having left my relationship of seven years, I miss that day-to-day connection of the skin and heart: the morning kiss, the spontaneous sharing of a moment in the day, climbing into bed together at night, and the sudden swell of sweetness that arises from brushing my body against his in the wee hours as the night moved toward morning.
Touch is such a beautiful sense. In a most intimate way, through touch we can lose that sense of solidness and separateness that we so often think we experience inhabiting these human bodies. Through touch, we can begin to let go of the need ‘to other’ and realize we aren’t separate at all.
I recently wrote about longing for a deep and reverent kindness, a touch from my lover that transmits an aware, divine conscious seeing of self as self. Some of the most awake moments of my life have been in the midst of touching the body of another, whether it be lover, child, or friend.
I also recently attended a summit (of sorts) in Portland – The World Domination Summit (WDS) with Chris Guillebeau. I’m not a fan of the word domination, and I don’t know why the summit was titled this because my experience was far from what this might imply. My experience was one of connection, creativity, action, and joy. I was able to touch, physically touch, many of the people I’ve met and come to know online. When I arrived in Portland, I had no expectations for the weekend other than to see and hug my (up until then) virtual friends.
As the weekend unfolded, I became acutely aware of how important it is to be immersed in life, not virtual life but real life, and real life with friends and colleagues. It is so easy to forget this when I spend so many hours of my day on the phone with clients and on the computer writing and socializing through social media. I have never been fond of networking, but now I’m realizing an entirely different way to network, by way of touch – touching heart, and touching soul.
The first speaker of the weekend was Pam Slim, who spoke of roots, the power in greeting another with the Navajo greeting: Ya’at’eeh (everything in the universe is beautiful), and the understanding that a mother’s role is to prepare her children to be independent,
‘Giving them the feeling of no matter what happens, I have the capacity to get through it’.
Pam’s talk was beautiful, inspiring and heart opening. And, it was practical, in that she offered very real ways of rooting ourselves in life, in knowing our capacity to get through whatever comes. We touch another deeply when we know and acknowledge their beauty. In doing so, we also acknowledge our own beauty, and the beauty inherent in life as it unfolds.
For me, the most experiential presentation of the entire weekend was offered up by Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen, co-creators of Mondo Beyondo, a wildly successful e-course. Drawing upon foundational coaching expertise, Andrea and Jen brought the house down with their ability to connect through the heart. They had us work with a partner to re-experience a peak experience. As a CTI trained coach, I’ve done this exercise many times in the past; yet, this time, the experience was very different.
In the past, when it comes to peak experiences, I’ve always considered things I had done that were successful, moments when I felt on top of the world, or had reached a dream I had longed for…some of the languaging that can be used in setting this experience up.
This time, however, it was different, perhaps because my awareness was on simply being with the very real sensations of connection and touch. As I shared with my partner, the peak experience was actually three combined. They were very similar in feel and sensation, and all involved touch, stillness, warmth, water, sun, skin, love, connection and the body.
As I relived these experiences, and then shared them with my partner, what showed up was nothing about success and achievement, but was all about being completely and utterly immersed in the erotic field of life, where sensuality and sexuality are part of the beautiful dance of being conscious in a human body.
At the end of the exercise, our partner spoke some of the key phrases or words that we had said aloud back to us. Then, we were to pick one of those and write it somewhere on the body. My word?
Slithering doesn’t have to be about snakes, yet this is what I, and many others first think of when we hear this word. Seeing as how I have quite a fear of snakes, not nearly as bad as it used to be, but still near phobic proportions, I felt a tinge of ‘yuck’ when I considered writing this word on my body.
But, I also knew how clearly this word articulated something very important to me, because it is more about a way of being in life. There’s a sense of flow, of ease of movement, of softness and groundedness, and of feeling one with life, with the ground, with the sensuous nature of being alive…
out of the water and
up onto the
confidently and tenderly
A snake doesn’t move with stiffness or rigidity. It moves with the land, propelling its body in connection to the earth.
A snake is powerful and has all sorts of baggage attached to it, especially with regard to women and apples.
As I moved throughout my day, wearing this word on my skin reminded me of those moments when I felt so at home in my body, so fed by the earth, water and sun, so close to my lover. It reminded me of touch, and of slow, delicious movement.
As WDS drew to a close, the last speaker, Jonathan Fields, asked us all to take what we’d learned over the course of the summit and put it into action. Yes, this is important; and, for me that action is important because of touch – how we touch others’ lives, and how we allow ourselves to be touched by people who are not different from us at all.
In my 2001 thesis on Spirituality and the Internet, I concluded with the understanding that even though the Internet would become such fertile soil for connection that couldn’t be made in the physical realm because of the limitations of space and time, the connections we make in the virtual world must ultimately serve to deepen the gifts we are here to give in the real world.
We can be touched online in very real ways. Our hearts can be opened.
Our souls can be seen.
Our consciousness can become more aware. And, our physical bodies still need physical interactions with other beings.
I can get complacent about showing up in the real world, yet what I experienced that weekend in Portland by coming together in flesh and blood incited a joy in me that I only experience in the physical world. Looking directly into eyes, smelling personal scents, feeling skin to skin, hearing the sound of voices I’d never heard before, and even sharing VooDoo Doughnuts with Marjory Mejia, Tanya Geisler and Kate Northrup Moller are all experiences that come out of this erotic field in which we live.
Eros is so much more than the slim sense of eroticism our culture focuses on. Underneath the surface of speakers, break-out sessions and events, there was a field of connection and intimacy that underscored the WDS experience. Eros was sublimely present at WDS, and is in each moment of existence.
Serendipity was a big part of my experience at WDS.
On the evening of the first event, my friend Marjory and I were leaving the hotel to head over to WDS. As the elevator door opened, we were suddenly face-to-face with Jamie Ridler and her sister, Shannon Ridler. I’ve wanted to meet Jamie for some time now, and voila, there she was!
On the bus that would take us to the after-party, I met Veena Kumar, a kind Pediatrician from the east coast. We introduced ourselves and shared a little bit about what we do.
I told Veena the name of my site, Unabashedly Female. I asked her what the name brought to mind for her and she responded by pulling out a piece of paper. It was the post-it note from Andrea and Jen’s talk. They had put over 500 post-its with messages for each of us under our chairs. Under Veena chair was this note.
She said unabashedly female makes her think of the freedom to be yourself without fear.
This is exactly it: finding the true freedom that comes from being yourself fully, femaleness and all, without apology; enjoying the sensuality of a life lived in a human body, connecting with others without hiding your true nature; touching life fully in each moment.