38. Soothing times
I've been reflecting on the verb to 'soothe', its definition is to bring comfort, solace, reassurance.
The ability to soothe was something I found I needed on a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't quite attuned to the anxiety I'd been feeling all day, until I was holding my partner's hand tightly, the deep silence in the room as we tuned into Boris and that I was sat ram-rod upright. What would these new changes bring? Historically I have found handling change to be frankly a bit flippin' tricky. So, a part of my meditation and mindfulness practice over the years has been to learn to lean into acceptance of the things I cannot change. What I needed on Sunday however was more than acceptance, I needed to feel soothed, reassured, comforted.
What does feeling soothed look and feel like to you? For me, it opens the lens I view life through, I feel expanded, capable, grateful. I notice I'm more at peace, life feels more colourful, my heart-rate lowered, I notice the simple pleasures, that comforting arm, the feel of a warm blanket, the pleasure in the burst in my mouth of that first bite of chocolate. These are missing when my brain is fried.
There are different ways to offer comfort and solace for ourselves in the ways that we might for others, and one is through somatic learning, by that I mean through the body rather than the mind.
We can bring supportive touch to our practice and into our meditations. You may have done this before when you've practiced a loving kindness practice by bringing your hand to your heart space and feeling it's warmth and gentle touch.
Research has shown that touch is a way in which we can convey or experience kindness and compassion toward ourselves and others, and that when we touch in this compassionate and supportive way it can have physiological changes.
Some of us may find the practice of bringing a warm hand to our heart space difficult, self-care isn't something we all are used to doing. But there are other ways we can soothe through touch in our meditation practices.
Here are a few practices for you to try in the moment:
Bring both your hands up and place them over your heart space
One hand on your stomach, the other on your heart
Two hands on your stomach
One hand on your cheek
Stroking your arm or side of the face
Crossing your arms and giving yourself a squeeze
Cupping one hand in the other
These are all the types of touch we might offer to others, so how does it feel to offer this to yourself? I used the cupping one hand in the other, and I found it to be gently comforting.
Find somewhere you won't be disturbed, somewhere that you can practice without others if that feels too weird and have a go.
Invite an element of playfulness and curiosity to your practice.