We reveal why this form of sense meditation is the new wellness trend you should try
We all know that meditating is good for our physical and emotional wellbeing, and in these unsettling times, people across the world are looking for new ways to ramp up their practice. Enter touch meditation. A useful technique to focus beginner minds or to enhance a more advanced practice, it involves using the sense of touch as a tool to focus on the present moment. “Touch meditation is a great way to activate your mind as well as your sense of touch,” explains meditation expert Maria Afentakis, who’s also the author of The Spiritual Scientist (mariaafentakis.com). “Your brain and your senses are connected and help each other function effectively. The sense of touch is governed by the somatosensory system in the brain and its main function is to differentiate sensations by touch to give us different emotions.” And there are plenty of benefits to be had from trying it – as life coach and meditation expert Neil Seligman knows well. “Simple physical sensations provide a perfect subject for mindfulness contemplation and touch practices cultivate present moment awareness, self-acceptance, kindness and selfcompassion,” he says
Try it yourself
So, how can you incorporate the idea of touch into your meditation practice? There are many different options – some of which we’ve included below – and you can tailor various techniques to your own needs. Like with most breathing practices, many of the ideas can be used either when you’re in the peaceful stillness of your own home or in a stressful situation at work.
This is a key tool for those who are looking to improve their self-compassion and selfacceptance and can be used to encourage loving kindness into every aspect of your life. “Connect with your body intuitively, offering it the pressure that feels good and focusing on the parts of your body that call for attention,” Neil advises. “Breathe with awareness gently throughout and enjoy.”
Get close to nature
Getting outside and feeling the sharp bark of a tree trunk with your fingertips or the soft bounce of moss underneath your feet is a great way to enjoy the benefits of both nature and meditation. “Lie on the grass and touch your surroundings,” says Maria. “Close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing, feel the different textures of nature and just stay there for 15 minutes.”
Meditate with an object
One of the most obvious ways to try this technique is to meditate while holding on to something, making yourself aware of the feeling of its shape and the material from which it’s made. “Choose your favourite object to meditate with, or touch 10 different objects and write down how they make you feel,” suggests Maria. “If you have a cat or dog, stroke your pet and ask yourself how it feels when you touch their fur or skin and connect to their energy.”
Hold your hand
The simple touch of your own body can help ground you more fully in the present moment and is a useful tool to have up your sleeve. “At times meditation might feel frustrating, upsetting or intense and, while you can always stop the practice if it feels too much, try holding your own hand with the same kindness and warmth that you would offer to a friend in need. This can be of great assistance and allow you to open up a little more to your experience,” explains Neil. “Try it also during stressful moments and difficult conversations.”
Add crystals to your meditation practice
Many people choose to use crystals in their daily lives and they can also be a handy addition to a meditation session. “Crystals are great to use and come in all different shapes and sizes,” says Maria. “The electromagnetic field of the crystal combines with the electromagnetic field of your hand to provide relaxation.” You may not be the spiritual sort, but understanding crystals individual energy can help generate those all-important good vibes. We like rose quartz, which crystal experts believe is good for supporting emotional release, and natural citrine, thought to refresh and revitalise.
Learn about acupressure points
Acupressure points are located across our body and stimulating them is believed to help energy flow. The hegu point, for example, (located on the back of the hand, at the top of the webbed triangle between your index finger and thumb) is believed to be good for relieving stress. Put pressure here and massage to lower anxiety levels.
Touch a gratitude stone
“As part of your gratitude practice, choose a stone or crystal to carry around with you in your pocket or purse,” suggests Neil. “Each time you touch it, breathe, explore the physical surfaces of the object, remember your gratitude intention and name one thing that you appreciate right now.”
Try this easy touch meditation at home, as recommended by Neil:
1. Begin by finding a comfortable posture and then bring your attention to the breath. Take a few moments to let yourself arrive and allow the breath to draw you gently into internal awareness.
2. Choose a finger and run it very slowly down the palm of your other hand. Watch closely. Notice if there is a connection between what you are seeing and what you are feeling. Pay attention to both the finger and the palm.
3. Repeat the motion five times, each time a little slower.
4. Now allow your gaze to soften and your eyes to close.
5. Run a finger down your palm again five times, even slower each time. Focus only on the physical sensations of the finger on the skin of the palm. What are these microscopic physical sensations saying about the texture and structure of your hand?
6. Silently choose five words that describe this experience of touch.
7. Take five breaths here.
8. Reflect on the following questions: What is touch? What happens during physical contact?
9. Take five breaths again here.
10. Return to wakefulness in your own way.
If you like, you can record your experience in your journal, noting as many sensations and feelings as you can remember. If, during the practice, you noticed something new about the sense of touch, try to describe it as clearly as you can.