Mind-Body Awareness Through Touch
A little bit about the importance of Mind-Body Connection, and what the disconnect might look like for women: Touch is an important element in having good sex, primarily because sex is at types turn you off, what pressure you prefer, and your ideal pace will allow you to communicate to a partner when and where to touch you to ensure maximum pleasure. your partner can’t read your mind so its imperative that women know what types of touch evoke pleasure to be able to have the best sex possible. If you’re not very confident about communicating how you like to be touched in the bedroom, this Mind-Body Awareness Through Touch Article is for you.
Using touch is a valuable way for women to begin exploring their bodies in a sensual, pleasurable, and sexual manner. Touch is especially valuable for those women who have experienced difficulty connecting the physical sensations they feel during sex with an emotional feeling about their bodies. Many women who struggle with achieving orgasm or low sexual desire often report they feel disconnected from their bodies. This Mind-Body exercise is designed to help women increase the connection between mind and body.
Prepping for the Mind-Body Exercise: The time required for this exercise is 30 uninterrupted minutes of private time. For the setting, you should be alone in a room that is comfortable and safe (meaning no one will walk in on you). Ideally, but not necessary, have a large mirror to increase the ways in which you can get feedback. Make the room as quiet as possible, the temperature comfortable and the light bright enough to see clearly but dim enough to stay within your comfort zone. Wear simple clothes that will allow you easy access to your body, specifically your arms, legs, and stomach since these are usually non-threatening areas on the body to touch. To make access to these areas easier, less is more. We recommend wearing underwear and a loose nightgown, or being nude.
The primary types of touch used to increase the connection between mind and body are:
1) A light feathery touch
2) A moderate pressured rubbing or patting touch
3) A heavy pressured kneading touch
4) An itchy scratchy touch
To learn each touch, take your dominant hand and use about 5 strokes of each type of touch up and down your bare non-dominant arm, then switch.
Light and Feathery: This touch involves taking the tips of your fingers and ever so gently grazing the skin on your arm. There is minimal pressure and this type of touch might even feel like tickling for some. As you stoke your arm, notice that the very tips of your fingers or just barely the palm of your hand will glide over your arm, barely making contact. This is the lightest pressure touch. This touch allows you to access sensitivity and subtlety. The light pressure of this touch may be faint and hard to notice at first. using this type of touch in the exercise will help you connect with even the smallest changes in your physical environment and start training your mind to be open to connections that can be made between these faint sensations and pleasure.
Medium Pressure: This touch is essentially the kind of touch you use when you apply a light moisturizer or lotion. The pressure is mild to moderate. When using this touch on your arm, you will notice that your hand will be slightly cupped and will make complete connection with your arm. However, the pressure stops there. This touch will probably be the most comfortable and familiar touch of the 4. This type of touch will help you access comfort and make a connection between normal everyday sensations and pleasure. Using this touch in the exercise will help you develop a mind body connection in regards with the things you already know you like. Exploring the new sensations you get from touch you use most often will help will help facilitate communication with a partner since you already have an understanding of what it feels like, you can then better explain what, why, and how it makes you feel pleasure.
Heavy Kneading Touch: This is the heaviest pressured of the touches and involves the fingertips and whole hand. To use this touch, cup your hand, apply it to your arm, and squeeze or knead your fingertips and the heel of your palm into your arm as you move your hand in a semi-circular motion up and down your arm. This type of touch usually reminds most people of a massage since the pressure is deep. This type of touch is used to help you access power and safety. You will be exploring how to use intense pressure on yourself or a partner and that may trigger some connections between touch, power, safety, and you personal limits of what and how you prefer to be touched. Learning to use the touch will also teach responsibility for listening accurately and communicating accurately what limits exist in the bedroom. Maybe this type of touch is on your forearms or legs, but not on your breasts. Maybe you like to use the dominating touch to massage a partner, but are not comfortable having this touch used on you because you fear a loss of control. A simple moan won’t fully communicate that. As you use this touch keep your mind open to the pros and cons of the intense pressure, your safety and control needs, and the areas on your body where this would be preferred (tense shoulder muscles maybe) or off limits (on your next close to your throat).
Itchy-Scratchy Touch: This touch involves mild pressure and uses your fingertips and nails. To experiment pretend you have an itch on your arm. Place your fingertips and nails on your arm and begin to scratch. You can expand this touch by lightening the pressure and scratching gently along your entire arm, rather than a focused spot. Be careful to use gentle to mild pressure so you don’t break skin. This type of touch allows you to access variety and playfulness. Using an itchy-scratchy touch will help you learn how your body reacts to unexpected sensations. Practicing this touch will help you learn to be spontaneous and increase your comfort with switching things up alone or with a partner. Interlacing playfulness with pleasure will allow you to gain access to memories you have stored about fun times you have spent with your partner in the past and learn new ways to recreate them in the present.
Note: All four touches can be modified for personal preference by changing pressure, location, and/or speed. This means that a light feathery touch that moves very slowly up your arm may feel uncomfortable for some, but speeding up the touch to have it move quickly up and down your arm may feel good. When experimenting with the four types of touch try each one with very slow speed to start, the increase to medium speed, and lastly fast speed. Also keep in mind that every individual will have a different reaction to each touch. Not everyone will enjoy all the touches; depending upon the order of touch or even mood, a person’s likes and dislikes may even change day to day. Additionally some types of touch may feel uncomfortable for you, or you might trigger an unpleasant memory you have stored. Touch triggering memories is especially common for survivors of trauma (sexual, physical, or emotional). If you find yourself having a strong reaction, take the exercise very slowly and with a grain of salt. If you feel like your reactions don’t match with the described feelings you could access, don’t judge yourself. Just listen to your body and record what feelings you do have. If you get stuck somewhere or notice a block with some of the touches, try discussing these issues with a therapist trained in sex therapy and working with trauma who will help you connect with the deeper emotional content the exercise is pushing you to access.
The Mind-Body Exercise: To start, stand or sit comfortably in front of the mirror and take a few minutes to look over your body while taking deep relaxing breaths. Remind yourself that you are safe and that there is no pressure to feel anything in particular. You are just here to learn about what your body prefers. When you feel ready; start with your dominant hand touching your bare non-dominant arm. Start with a light-feathery touch, and begin varying the speed. You can then change to an itchy-scratchy kind of touch, again varying speed and range of location from small to large. Next, add some lotion to your hand or arm and begin using the medium pressure touch with varying speeds; then finishing up with the heavy pressured kneading touch. Now cycle back through each type of touch but switch up the order: try starting with medium pressure, moving to light, then heavy, then itchy or whatever combination you choose. Repeat this cycle on your other arm, one leg at a time, and then your stomach. When touching your legs and stomach you can experiment with switching from your dominant to non-dominant hand or using both hands at the same time. Remember to keep varying the speed for each type of touch. Be careful with scratching on sensitive areas of your body and use a mild pressure to avoid breaking skin.
While engaged in this exercise, you will be getting a lot of data from your mind and body. If you have a mirror you can use it for feedback. Look into your eyes in the mirror or close them and follow along the different body parts in your mind to explore how they reflect any feelings such as: pleasure, happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, anxiety, shyness, or tension. Pay attention to your posture. Do you inadvertently curve your body towards or away from any particular touch? If you have the mirror notice if you see yourself touching at a faster or slower pace than you pictured in your mind? Can you see what type of pressure you are using? Look at your body parts while you are touching yourself. Focus your attention on your arms, legs, and stomach. Notice your facial responses. Are you smiling, grimacing, wincing, laughing, or have a straight face? What feelings story would your face be telling someone else? Looking at how your body reacts to each touch is very useful for women who often imagine that being touched by a partner or touching themselves will feel uncomfortable since you will be able to see exactly how your body reacts to each touch. Your goal with this exercise is to become mindful of how your mind and body reacts to different touches in a physical and emotional manner. The data you get from watching yourself touch the different body parts, or using the mirror for feedback, will help you interpret the sensations you are feeling, thus strengthening the mind-body connection.
Once you have explored all four touches on your arms, legs, and stomach, and have used the mirror to provide feedback about your body’s reactions; take some time to reflect on how doing the exercise made you feel. Using a journal or notebook to record answers to the following questions can help enhance your understanding so you can communicate with a partner.
- What touch was your favorite and least favorite?
- Did you prefer the speed to be fast, medium, or slow?
- Did any touch make you feel uncomfortable?
- Did any evoke a happy or pleasurable memory?
- Or a sad, anxious, or frustrating memory?
- Did you judge or criticize your body at any time in the exercise?
- What thoughts did you have during this exercise: about your body, your sexuality, your partner, or your wants and needs?
- Was there any pressure or expectation to feel a certain way?
- Can you communicate to a partner what you liked about the exercise?
- What might be difficult to share?
- Did any touch make you feel embarrassed or shy?
- What old belief is connected to the embarrassment or shyness?
- What early messages did you learn about your body?
- What were you taught about pleasure?
- What do you wish you were taught?
- How do you feel about women who touch themselves?
- How did it make you feel to touch yourself?
- Can you imagine yourself touching other areas of your body not included in this exercise: i.e. breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, face, genitals, etc… ?
- What do you need to feel more comfortable and relaxed to do this exercise again?
After reflecting on the provided questions, you can add your own thoughts and feelings in a journal entry. You may have some new insights you want to share with a partner. Or if you are not currently attached, you may make notes for things to try again solo. Your next steps will be to explore how you can strengthen a mind body connection to your other senses and learn what types of sensations increase your pleasure. You may also want to take some time to keep exploring where you get stuck. What is the emotional trigger? Where do you disconnect? Answering these types of questions may be difficult and scary. If you’re embarking on a journey to learn more about your physical and emotional preferences for pleasure, talking with a sex therapist will be extremely helpful. Contact us at The Center For Growth to schedule a session.