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The Language of Compassion

Are you familiar with the 5 Languages of Love? It breaks down how we like to give and receive love into five categories. I have found it to be such a great tool in learning about myself and the people I am in relationship with. I scored top level on Personal Touch–followed by Words of Affection and Quality Time–and zero on Gifts. It makes sense, as I am much more interested in connection than things.

I have been thinking a lot about touch. I come from a family of touchers–there was a lot of hugging, hair-playing and hand-holding in my house. I am a toucher. If I am talking to you one-on-one, I am most likely touching you. When I became a teacher, I had to train myself not to touch, because not everyone is OK with it. It has always felt restrictive to me. The older I get and the more time I spend teaching, the more I allow it to enter the classroom, because I learned that students are attracted to teachers that are like them, which means I most likely attract touchers.

To touchers, not having touch can feel like malnutrition. It can lead to depression. It can feel like the body is constricted and tight.

I read an article the other day highlighting a study done at Berkeley claiming that Americans are touch-deprived. It stated that non-human primates spend 10-20% of their waking hours grooming each other. When observing friends at a cafe in different countries over a period of an hour they noticed that in England, friends touched each other 0 times and in the United States they observed it twice and only in bursts of enthusiasm. France was 110 times and Puerto Rico was 180!! Whoa! They referred to touch as the felt “language of compassion”. 180 expressions of compassion in one hour!?! Imagine what that would do to our nervous system!

The study showed that preterm newborns who received just three, 15-minute sessions of touch therapy each day for 5-10 days gained 47 percent more weight than premature infants who’d received standard medical treatment.

You might think, well, yes that makes sense a baby would need that, but why would being an adult change that need or its affect?

This is why I started the Inviting the Moon class. It’s not just about self-indulgence. It is about addressing a basic need as humans that is not readily available to all of us.

We all have a lot on our plates. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “do more” and “be better”. We don’t find it easy to admit when we are at capacity. We can get so used to living at capacity that we might not even realize the stress our body is holding for us. We need to be able to melt into the loving, safety of other people that aren’t needing anything in return. Inviting the Moon spawn from the desire to address these needs through touch, sound and providing an intentionally contained and quiet space to let go.

When I approached Jeanne and the therapists, Lauren, Jessi, Sean and Elise to join me in this class, our conversation wasn’t about logistics, it was about the intention. Without hesitation they agreed to it. They also see it as a need that is not being met and they wanted to be a part of it…for you. I encourage you to take advantage of this space and this opportunity. Each of us are excited to offer it (and slightly jealous).

We offer this class the first Sunday of every month from 5:30-7:30 p.m. We would love for you to join us. e-mail: moon@liminalspace.net for questions or to register.

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