No, not him, I thought when I looked up and saw him. Not him.
This was my reaction the first time I put our loving touch theory into action.
Early in my contemplations, with Willow, about connections between love and sexual energy I was thinking about how hard it is to generate feelings of love just by looking at someone. Both innately and from our culture, we have it wired into us that it is right to love one another. But sometimes it is hard to conjure up that emotion — that connection — depending on who we are looking at.
I sensed that if I could look at any person and touch their face, with a caress, or light stroke, or cradling, perhaps my love for them would be engaged. Actually touching someone at random, however, would not be appropriate. So I wondered if it would work if I touched them energetically. That is, I wondered if it would work if I simply looked at them and imagined myself physically touching their face lovingly with my fingers.
And so it was that I found myself on a 40 minute B.C. Ferry ride from Langdale to Vancouver, surrounded by people, regarding a large and lumpy, elderly, balding man.
The Universe had, of course, provided me with the perfect first subject: someone who did not fit my profile as easy to love. Not only was he rather unattractive by cultural standards, he was a man! As I said, I immediately turned away. No, I’m not ready for him, I thought for a second. I’ll try again. I’ll find someone more attractive. But then I realized that yes, he was a perfect first test. So I looked up again and embraced his face with my eyes.
I was amazed. As I let my fingers energetically reach out and caress this man’s face, to hold and touch his face lovingly, my regard for him was transformed. I felt his beauty. I felt how he was just like me, full of the same need for love, full of the same scars and wounds, full of the same illusion of separateness that we all have cultivated inside us. A minute ago I would have needed mental gymnastics to generate a feeling of love for him. But now, through the simple imagination of loving physical touch, my love for him flowed.
Since that moment I have tried this practice many times. It works in every case, with whomever I regard. The man-made calibrations of beauty in my head have been challenged often, but a true sense of beauty and love never fails to emerge when I energetically touch each face. I began to tell people to try this practice in the midst of an argument or conflict. Touch the other person’s face, in your mind, and see how it shifts the interaction.
This past week I had the opportunity to take this practice to another level. I was attending Caffyn Jesse’s one-week Intimacy Education workshop on Saltspring Island. It was fantastic in every respect. As part of the work, within a beautifully safe container, we have permission to give voice and choice to the kinds of touch we would like to receive. On the last day I knew I was due for one more session, which, by the way, within the context of this workshop can include full loving erotic engagement. As I had breakfast at a little restaurant called the Tree House, I asked myself, what kind of touch did I really want that day?
The practice of face touching came back into mind. As I thought about it, I wondered what it would feel like to actually have my face touched in love, both for me and the one doing the touching. Would it be as powerful as the energetic touching? Would it be healing in some way? Would it be erotic in some way?
I was excited. As I contemplated what I would ask for, it struck me that the person doing the touching could regard me in several different ways and in each case it might shift the quality of the touching and the emotion generated.
So I came up with the following five ways for the person to caress and hold and touch my face, with curiosity and love, finding the beauty:
1. Touch my face lovingly as me, as who I am.
2. Touch my face lovingly as every human, with love for the human race.
3. Touch my face lovingly as someone you have forgiven.
4. Touch my face lovingly as someone you need to ask forgiveness from.
5. Touch my face lovingly as you, as you would lovingly touch your own face.
I thought about who I would like to touch me in this way, who was right for this instance, and a couple who were attending came to mind.
I had a strong inkling it was going to be powerful. But I had no idea how deep it would be.
The couple enthusiastically agreed to my request. As I laid on the massage table, the man and the woman each took 15 minutes to cycle through the touch perspectives, telling me when they shifted from one to the next. Almost immediately, when I felt their fingers gently touch my face, I was filled with emotion. When I opened my eyes, to momentarily look into theirs as they touched, the emotion intensified. Our hearts became deeply connected. When they touched in the framework of forgiveness, tears flowed freely.
It was an honor to “stand in” for the human race, for those forgiven, for those who need to be asked for forgiveness, for themselves. I felt cleansed. I felt healed in some inexplicable way. Bathed in their love, I floated on a sensation of bliss for 30 minutes. This is how it is meant to be, I thought. And their experience touching me was equally profound.
When we shared our experience with the rest of the group, everyone was moved. We were given the opportunity to touch the two facilitator’s faces from these various perspectives as a thank you and farewell. Once again it had deep impact.
Trying to love without physical connection is difficult. But reach out and actually touch someone with an intention to love, and that deep, innate, pure love that energizes all of life will get plugged in. Our minds get taken offline. Our hearts get powerfully engaged.
This will become a common ritual at our loving sexual energy Discovery Weekends. I invite you to try touching someone’s face in this way, whether energetically — which you can do basically anywhere, at work, on buses or rapid transit, on the street — or physically with someone willing, within a safe “container”. Try touching someone who is sick, or someone at the end of life, or someone you love, or someone you don’t like, or someone you’ve never met before. Try touching each other’s face from the five perspectives listed above. Pure, healing love will flow.