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Blog: To touch is to be in relationship

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

I am currently preparing for my Intensive "Anatomy of Touch" which starts tomorrow. 5 days on the topic of touch. Touch and movement, touch and language, touch and expression. In the run-up I get some inquiries around the topic, the caution already noticeable in advance. Nothing touches us as much as touch.

There are many scientific studies from which we can see that we humans need touch to thrive. Touch creates quality of life. We can also say that touch is nourishment. Food for the soul, sounds corny, but it is. Food for our skin, our cells, our self-perception, for our perception of space, our desire for movement, our relationships, our self-worth, our sensuality, our sense of meaning and our connection with the body.

Daniel Odier explains it this way: "Our mind occupies 90% of the space, our body 10%. It is not a question of eliminating the mind, which is indispensable, but Tantra (note: original Tantra in the kashmirian tradition) tries to create a more balanced relationship so that the body can take its proper place. It is as if we owned a beautiful apartment and lived only in the kitchen, which is the head, and the rest of the apartment was unoccupied!"*

Now not every touch has to take place in a spiritual context to be beneficial.** When touch takes place with a basic intention of benevolence, mindfulness and mutual consent, touch is experienced as nurturing, supportive, healing, grounding, relaxing and connecting. To touch is to be in relationship. We need touch to perceive ourselves, to feel connected, to feel seen on deep levels. Touch means quality of life for

- Health and psychological stability

- Well-being and security in the world

- Bonding between parents/children, couples, friends and in community

- Expression of love and affection

- Sensuality and sexuality

In Holistic Dance Pedagogy, I define these contexts of touch with which we work with:

- Touch in relationship and interplay with movement.

- Touch in relation to the nervous system (tone regulation and relaxation)

- Touch in relation to the anatomy / alignment

additionally with mindfulness and in certain contexts:

- Touch as an invitation to sensuality as a quality of movement and being.

When, where, whom to touch - this is always a hot topic in different societies and at different times, it does not need a pandemic. Touch is scary because it can lead to closeness, intimacy, loss of control, unclear relationships, border crossings, transmission of illness or an authentic encounter. Conscious handling of boundaries, self-reflection, awareness of one's own vulnerability and that of the other are indispensable. Too much, too little, too fast, too often, too rough, too gentle, too self-serving, too encroaching....there is an incredible amount to learn and heal from.

Contexts of touch with which we do NOT work with:

- Sexual touch

- Emotional touch (i.e. roleplaying)

- Clinical/diagnostic touch

This does not mean, of course, that these kinds of touches cannot be healing in other appropriate contexts or trainings. I am merely setting the framework for my work. It is important to me to clearly define this distinction as it allows me to create a trustful and hopefully healing framework for touch that relates to movement, dance and expression. It allows me to

- Train conscious exploration of anatomical areas of the body and body awareness

- Encourage flexibility, expression and multidimensional dancing

- Explore conscious shaping of touch qualities

- Practice contact improvisation in a safe setting

- Teach various body therapy techniques

- Invite integration of dance, expression and encounter

My seminar starts tomorrow and I am looking forward to the journey together.

*Interview with Daniel Odier by Anne Devillardin connection

Find the touch in the dance and the dance in the touch Translated with

**A hand on the shoulder (there are studies that show that students get better grades when the teacher puts a hand on their shoulder), an appreciative handshake (Bill Clinton was famous for his two-hand handshakes...), a foot massage during the evening Netflix movie (also works with teenagers, self-tested), a tango dance during your cousins wedding..many possibilities for a mindful touch .

(c) Nadja Meister

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