Touching into my Waking Dream Body
“His shoulder touches the outline of my forearm and then slides along my upper back as we move sometimes in unison and others awkwardly searching for places of balance and resistance. The pressure from his hand against my back sends me falling gently to the polished wood floor and he follows landing in a tangled caress. His head leans against my thigh as my arm reaches feeling supple ground on his belly. Within seconds our bodies lie parallel and begin to roll over each other one at a time. My heart races, breathe pulling me out then deeply in as I reach to touch and to be touch, memories wash over me, feelings of hurt, fear, and desire rise then fall. A moment of grief is lifted as I notice another being has joined our dance. I stay with the experience letting whatever needs to arise. Exhausted I feel the release. Alone I crawl to the edge of the room finding sanctuary in rest and contemplation”
Nurturing touch can soothe, evoke, calm, surprise, reassure, welcome, and awaken our senses. When was the last time any of us had the experience of nurturing touch? When was the last time you were hug with the gift of being held?
For many of us the sensations of the body have been lost due to trauma, physical poverty, negligence, and lack of healthy touch. We have forgotten our bodies, the wild primal, sensual experience of what it feels like to be in physical form.
Those of us in western society who live in a “culture of trauma” as William St. Cyr speaks of in “Coming Back to Consciousness”, we navigate our bodies through a touch phobic culture based on fear, liability, sex, and trauma.
The needs of the body are treated only with immediacy or not treated at all. Touch has become a luxury or a tool for hurt. We are plagued with aches and pains, fatigue, depression, addictions, anxiety, loneliness, and all forms of illness. We experience even when in relationship an absence of nurturing touch on a regular basis.
The greater the detachment from the physical self the more embedded becomes the struggle and this elicits further detachment in a vicious cycle. We become afraid of our bodies their vibrations, temperatures, pulsations, rhythms, throbs, movements, and weight which are appraised as an illness to be altered or eliminated.
Compounding this is the societal norms and expectations that reinforce the contempt we develop for this shell of a being and its desires within.
On a more universal scale our separation from our body contributes to our separation from the earthy body. How can we be in relationship to the soil, plants, trees, cats, and other beings if we cannot be in our own physical knowing and experience? How often do we feel our bare feet on the grass or acknowledge the water that envelopes us while swimming?
Sitting at the edge of the room back pin up against the paneled wall I notice a wave of sadness descent over me. Questions wash through as explore the denial of the touch’s direct feeling. Frustration and a ting of anger surface not at anyone instead for my inability to feel the contact of each encounter in the dance. What wasn’t I doing, oh and then the trigger of do I belong here, will anyone want to dance with me, is my body an enticement or a rejection? A tightness in my chest reflects the urge to run, leave the room and find a path home. But alas the wisdom of my yearning, to be in contact, to know wholeness wins over and I stay until I am ready to dance again.
The visceral detachment of heart, body, and mind left me exiled from wholeness most of my life. It was physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma that provided the substance for this disassociation and depersonalization.
Starting at ten and maybe younger my body became the stuff of disengagement and pain, an alien body of a shell that was unfamiliar and indifferent to all sensations of pleasure. At the core the disassociation that was required to survive the trauma response became embedded as I navigate into adulthood.
In its place the detachment absorbed deeper leading to a separation of what I call nerve displacement between physical, feeling, and knowing. As a result, patterns of distrust laid waste to my ability to respond. I was unable to feel the nurturing experience of touch, decipher the elements that assisted in discerning when I needed touch, connection, and individuality.
The point is that I forgot what it felt like to be touched in a nurturing and heartfelt way. Instead my body was only a receptacle for the mind and a vehicle to navigate the world. And one that didn’t need anything from anyone.
Thankfully with assistance from my dreams, dreamwork, and contact improv the layers of detachment have begun to dissolve away.
Dream: I am approached by a group of 5 woman. In unison they reach out their arms asking if they can touch me. I nod. They know I am afraid and act with tenderness. Hands hold space on my shoulders, head, and back. I am welcomed home.
My dreams seek to guide me back to the reunification of my soul essence and physical body. They awaken me through nightly stories of physical touch. The touch I experience in dreams strives to heal the separation I feel in waking life creating space to come in relationship.
Through the passionate embrace of a lover, the furry arms of mother bear pulling me in, or the sensual experience of being embraced by water breathing it as I swim under the surface. The dream offers the physically of touch on a most intimate and profound level with humans and the earth.
Here in my slumber the dream body awakens my remembering anchoring me in the sensation of the body’s flesh and it’s needs. And through the practice of working the dream I tap into the trust needed to feel the sensual, loving touch of another in waking life as a guide through the dream story.
As if awaken from a long sleep I notice the electricity long held being released. Here for the first time I feel the give and take of touch energy within my dream body as it undergoes a shift in perspective.
The body is the gateway through which we interact with reality. It is a threshold between the soul energy of our spirit that it contains and the living-breathing world. This vessel in its uniqueness is the guardian of our essence providing form that allows us to share the intentions of our consciousness.
Without this vessel we could be energy in chaos. Just as our soul needs attention so does the amazing and incredibly designed container of skin, bones, muscles, nerves, organs, and blood. The physical body needs attention, nurturing, caressing, and caring if it is to thrive and support the labor of the mind and soul.
Loving/nurturing touch heals us, opens us, releases us, and connects us on a truly deep level. It is one of the first senses engaged in the womb upon birth. We feel the air, water, and hands reaching to call us forth into this waking world. Touch wakes us up, demands our awareness to the world around us. We have no choice but to heed its call when we feel the tap of a cat’s paw against our face or a stranger’s hand grasped in welcome.
It impacts us not just in the place where the touch occurs but spreads out like a pool of water when a pebble is dropped within. And that touch affects the pain of our living and dying as its energy is carried along our skin being absorbed within our blood and bones and released when we are held and comforted.
Without touch from birth to dying we will not fully experience the aliveness and essence of our being and we may not truly know love. Beyond words touch is the greatest means to communicate both our struggle and our love. And it is a gesture that offers connection between all aspects of life on this planet.
Through the work of my dreams, it’s guidance offers a nudge to approach the vulnerability and potency of contact improv dancing where I seek out the waking life encounter of touch.
It is here from dream to waking life that I seek out the prophetic wisdom of the body’s intuition and its persistence yearning to be understood and engaged.
It is here this wisdom demands my attention to liberate my body from the chains of bondage observed in rigidity, numbness or constant pain. To reunite all aspects of the embodied self.
It is here with support and encouragement I discover the freedom of expression and movement where…..
I am held in companionship with the space of connection and touch.
I learn to navigate my needs as I dance alone and in relationship with others.
I map out the triggers that hold me in fear and release the pain that tightens my ability to feel and respond to touch.
I can abandon a certain level of control and protective willfulness as a way of dropping into a natural flow of movement and touching.
I can meet and make peace with the act and sensation of being touched.
I come to a point of understanding proximity and engagement of self and other on a deeper level.
I begin to navigate the place of belonging, wandering the landscape to discover that space.
How to be in relationship as an act of acknowledging my individuality and my connectedness.
Learning how to first pay attention to my body responses, then its needs and then my needs in relationship to individuality and connection.
For our all my hesitation or caution when I drop into the experience of being touched the body and soul are trigger alive awakening my ability to receive and transmit the sensual, loving, and relational knowing of this human physical experience called life. And I remember within that this instinctual element allows me to “become” in relationship to my deepest knowing.
“Contact improvisation is a dance of communicating, experiencing, and relating through physical touch between two or more people. The dance is spontaneously created by the impulsive interaction of two or more different bodies, regardless of preconditioned reflexes and accepted notions of ability, size, weight and strength.”
“Embodied Dreamwork” Students of the Dream Sue Scavo & Bill St. Cyr
“Contact Improv” The Everything Space Amanda Franz & Abbi Jaffe