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Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth.Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
Covid-19 note: As this is a time where social-distancing is thoughtfully in place, this post will particularly focus on physical contact with our current surroundings.
Thank you for visiting week 4 of your very own writing for well-being programme, Haiku for You! I hope you make yourselves at home because this session is all about feeling comfortable in your own skin. This will pay close attention to your environment.
Feel free to head over to the introductory post, which explains how this twelve-week blog-series will guide you towards mindfulness through the use of haiku. You can also revisit any weeks you have missed or would like to explore in more depth.
For those whose haiku I have become happily acquainted with in the comments sections so far, I am thrilled that last week’s Haiku about weather helped you find some peaceful moments for yourself. This week, be extra sure to find a restful place for you and your notepad.
Now, if you are ready to begin,
take a slow, deep breath in …
…and then back out.
We are going to talk about
Thoughts about touch
Did you know that cuddling something soft, stamping on the spot and focusing on all your senses is recommended to soothe anxiety? It is comforting to acknowledge that even as adults, we all have an inevitable infancy within us. We all have a primal need to be nurtured. It’s the very reason why a pat on the shoulder, a hug or a massage are something we often long for. In fact, it just proves how important it is that we know how to take care of ourselves.
We often consider touch as a strictly physical thing that belongs to our bodies, hands and feet. It tells us temperature, humidity, air pressure and pain. However, touch is also inextricably connected to our mental well-being. Studies show that physical touch can reduce anxiety and stress, build trust and boost your immune system. At the same time, the importance of touch often goes unnoticed in our everyday lives.
Why is touch so important?
Touch is one of our five vital senses. It’s one of the most reliable methods for capturing life’s moments in all their sensitivity. As we grow up and begin to navigate the world, we feel pressure, vibrations, pain and pleasure, all through our skin. While we witness the different textures, patterns and grains of our changing scenery, touch reminds us we are physical beings.
And yet, amidst everyday stress and anxiety, we can easily become lost in our own thoughts. The use of grounding techniques reminds us that we are not what we think. We can camp alongside our feelings for a while, but they should never take permanent residence. This is why we will explore haiku about touch.
How to use grounding techniques
This is simpler than you might expect. First of all, pick things up often. Lots of things. The world is not here to simply be witnessed. Be as involved as you can. Examine the changing texture of flour while you bake, feel the crunch or flexibility of leaves from your garden, choose that smooth stone or pebble that stands out to you; feel the different textures of fruits like peaches or pineapples. Lose yourself in your senses for a while.
Touch can be a very reassuring and calming act. Consider the simplicity of a blanket you drape around your shoulders to feel the warmth, or the ease of your favourite jumper. What about the fluffy slippers you wear to make your feet feel like marshmallows, or when your pet brushes past you? Think of the way water gently sifts through your hair while you wash it, or the relief when you rest a wet flannel on a feverish forehead.
Notice how certain parts of your body are more delicate to touch than others. For example, your ankle could be far less sensitive than your inner wrist or the base of your foot. Maybe take off your socks and feel the bluntness of grass beneath them. Have a hot bath and feel the contrast as you dunk yourself into the water. Think of the warmth of your mug of tea while you cradle it in two hands and the steam rises towards your face.
Haiku about touch: examples of my own
Our walk of the day two arms and countries apart; butterflies find us.
Bare feet, naked sun, burning for a stroke of air while working from home.
her grey piano - aching for the tender hands from the toy corner
How to write your own haiku about touch
Exercise duration: approximately 30 minutes
1. Close your eyes.
Take a moment to feel the temperature of your space. Is there a breeze blowing through the window? Is the air humid and clinging to your hair?
2. Open your eyes again.
If you can, pick up or touch at least three objects from your surroundings. The more textures, the better. Are they rough or smooth to hold? Are they pleasant or unpleasant? Write a single word about each.
3. If you can, walk or stand up on bare feet. Feel the spring or solidity of your foundation. If you can’t do this, simply hold a warm or cold beverage in your hands, or wrap a blanket around you. This is just about noticing sensations and surfaces.
4. Choose the most grounding detail from your list. Which ones make you feel most strong, comfortable and safe? Consider why you like this feeling. Does it remind you of anything from when you were small, or another happy memory from the past?
5. Hold onto the detail you find most comforting from this moment. Leave everything else behind. Their moment has passed. Pick up your pen, and very gently, write your haiku about touch.
Just remember, it’s three lines of 5-7-5 syllables! Refer back to How to write Haiku guidelines.
Take another deep breath in, and then back out.
Gently stretch your arms and legs. Move them around a little. Yawn or smile.
How do you feel, both emotionally and physically?
It’s no surprise that holding onto something in this big world can immediately make us feel less alone. However, it can also be a healthy reminder to ourselves that touch isn’t only about comfort. When we are children, our tiny fingertips try to claw onto the whole world, just so we can find our way. We can all agree that as adults, we are always trying to familiarise ourselves with our personal journey. And, isn’t it a privilege to be able to learn something new every day?
Thank you so much for taking this time to keep in touch with the world around you – and with me! I look forward to seeing you next Monday for Week five (can you believe it?), which will bring you another mindful theme! For now, I will keep it under wraps and look forward to reading your haiku contributions.
Remember, next time you are feeling a little fragile, your body may be struggling too. Find your ground, pick up some positivity with your bare hands and kindly give yourself the hug you need.
Now, let’s haiku away!
If you are happy to, please leave your beautiful haiku about touch in the comments section below this post.
See last week – Week Three: Haiku about Weather.