Without giving it too much thought, please share with me and our readers what sparks in you when you think of, see or hear the word 'touch'?
Touch is connection: our way to reach out to the world and to others as well as reach inward toward ourselves. As one of the five senses, touch is one that I use to make a lot of decisions: I like soft clothes, fuzzy blankets, and scarves I can snuggle into. I’m a person that likes to browse a store by picking up and feeling things, so the pandemic has really cramped my style! I remember being painfully conscious of everything I touched or managed not to touch when I first had to go shopping during COVID. I still feel very much like a young child going into a china shop: hands at sides, look with eyes, only pick up what you’re going to buy. I will breathe a sigh of relief when I can release these new habits! I will also be relieved when I have the opportunity to give someone outside my household a hug. Not that I used to go around hugging everyone before, but I’d like to have the option. Finally, touch is also a sense that, for me, brings back childhood memories of being in my grandparent’s sewing room where there were countless textural wonders from shiny buttons to smooth silks, soft velvets to strings of beads, all of which combined to make this imaginative world that I still return to in my mind when I want to get in ‘touch’ with my creative side.
Are there practices/rituals you have in your life that put you in 'touch' with that deep essence within yourself where you are uniquely and authentically you? If so would you be willing to share these with us?
I’m a big fan of rituals; they externalise changes we go through and make them easier to see and understand. Although I enjoy all types of incense and essential oils and making little altars for various seasons and things on my bookcases, the rituals that have been a part of my week for a long time are simple practices that don’t require much stuff. That’s one of the things I like about yoga, all you need is yourself and a mat (which is optional). I always begin my yoga practice by placing my hands together, closing my eyes and taking a breath – and then usually several more until I feel settled within myself. Then, and only then, I start to move. Somehow through the poses, the sequences, the asana (whatever you like to call it), the movement of my body and the rhythm of my breath draws me deeper within and when I reach that place, I stop moving so I can listen to my inner voice. For me, the movement is a gateway to getting in touch with myself, but there are lots of gateways. Another, for me, is Reiki. With Reiki, all I need to do is bring my awareness into my hands, place them on my heart and immediately something starts to shift within myself as I feel the safety and support of the abundant universe that I am a part of and connected to.
In normal times (whatever that means nowadays), I teach Nia (Joyful Barefoot Dance). I found Nia on moving to Burntisland 4 years ago. I found so much freedom in dancing to shift 'overwhelm/big feelings/mind chatter' through my mind, body, emotions and spirit. You teach Yoga to lovelies locally and beyond, infact it's how we met, I'd be at my studio in The Space Upstairs, and you'd be teaching Yoga next door. I've also been to your classes, they're lovely and provide a different way of reconnecting with myself. What is it about Yoga that touched you and made you want to share it with the greater community?
I was hooked on yoga from my very first class, which I took when I was about twenty. Why did I like it? Because I felt sooooo good afterward! I wanted to keep feeling that good all the time, so quite early on, practicing a little bit at home became part of my normal. The more I did yoga, the more I found it a good way to process and deal with things in the world and my life that were challenging. I always thought ‘I like yoga so much, one day I’ll teach’ and then ‘that day’ rolled around. By 2017, I had completed my PhD in Art History and had been applying for jobs for about a year. Anyone who’s had a prolonged job search will know how soul destroying this can be and I got to the point when I knew I had to do something to feel better. Yoga had always done that for me, so I looked into teacher training courses and one of the teachers invited me to try a class. Well I had my trial class and an interview on the same day. The yoga class had me buzzing from the first morning chant and the job interview was terrible; the interviewers couldn’t have cared less and I wished I hadn’t even bothered to finish answering their questions, because who would want to work with people so disrespectful anyway?! So it was yoga all the way! For me, yoga is one of those amazing things that is simply too good not to share, so when I’m teaching, it just spills out of me. I’m telling people to put a right foot there and a hand here, inhale, exhale - I tell people about how this strengthens that muscle group and this a good stretch to gain flexibility there, but all of that is really to provide everyone with enough stimulus to get out of their heads and into the here and now. Most of the time, I can even see this process working, which is incredible! As we go through the class, it’s like witnessing bits of the world lift off people’s shoulders as they begin to smile more and their eyes look more alive. As a teacher, I am also an advocate for wellbeing. There are many mixed messages about the meaning and value of self-care, wellness and mental health in our society, so I feel it is part of my role to be a champion for these things, along with kindness, compassion, relaxation and inner peace. That is why creating a space where deep rest is actively encouraged and giving everyone time to lie down at the end of a class to just be (aka ‘Savasana’) is so important.
Peggy, you 'touched' me by getting in contact regarding the possibility of a business collaboration. We went on to bring Savasana Balm to our worlds. I'm an addict for 'connection', and by you reaching out, that connection itch was scratched. It can be a lonely place working as a small business owner/operator juggling the myriad of 'to dos'. But collaborating with you brought a new energy to me and Bodylushious which I'm so grateful for. Please share why collaborating feels important for you at this time.
Teaching brought me a very unexpected gift: community. Once I started teaching, I met so many great people. I also found myself spending more time on the high streets of Burntisland, Aberdour and Kinghorn where I teach, getting to know the shop owners and generally feeling more connected to the place where I lived. I missed these interactions when the pandemic started and what it made me and, I am sure, a lot of other folks realise, is that we need other people. We need to connect to and be a part of something. So this year, my New Year’s resolution was to actively seek out collaborations with people I liked who were doing great things. Creating the Savasana Balm was my first one for the year, so thank you Bronwyn!! The best collaborations are when everyone gets to share their best gifts, which together make something that the individuals could not have done by themselves. And when that happens, it’s exciting! Plus, it’s a chance to do something positive and support local businesses, which right now is even more important.
This is your place to share whatever it is you want to share with me and Bodylushious readers. What's that thing today you're just 'itching' to tell us about. Maybe it's on the topic of Focus, Love, Bounce (themes from previous months), or maybe it's something completely off the wall random. Go for it, this is your space!
As the signs of spring start to show, I find myself looking ahead to a time when we’ll hopefully start easing out of lockdown. I’d like to encourage everyone to be mindful of how they resume their ‘new normal’. In the book ‘Spark Joy’, Marie Kondo explains a process of going through your house, picking up each item, and only keeping what sparks joy so that, by the end, you’re surrounded only by things that lift your spirit. That’s what I’m doing with my schedule and general ways of being as I think about easing out of lockdown. I’m only keeping and adding what I love. Looking back to 2020 and 2019, I was busy, but only a portion of that busy I really enjoyed. Now that lockdown forced me to essentially ‘factory reset’ my life, I’m keeping the best and leaving the rest.
I think this time of transition presents us all with an opportunity to make positive changes in our own lives and in the wider world. As we get back in touch with people we haven’t seen for awhile, I’d also like to encourage everyone to be willing to listen and be compassionate. People have had very different experiences within the last year and the person you knew in February 2020 may not be exactly the same as the person you meet now. People will also have very different levels of comfort and worries with things opening up again; open minds and hearts are needed so that everyone can feel ok, even if that ‘ok’ is different from what you’d like. I hope that the sense of community and support that many experienced at the start of lockdown with rainbows in windows and clapping for carers can continue as we find new ways of being.
Lastly, before you stop reading this and move on to something else, I’d like to invite you to place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly and take five deep breaths. (I’m doing it now as I write this). Mmmm, that’s nice.