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Sexological Bodyworker & Intimacy Coach
This body-based Intimacy and Touch coach teaches non-erotic touch for clearer communication, stronger boundaries, and better relationships. Dresser also specializes as a Mindful Gay Sex Coach, for supporting pleasure between men.More by This Instructor
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Hi, I'm Michael Dresser, and welcome to the Introduction to Learning to Touch. So this is the course where you can learn practices and techniques around how to touch without needing to touch anybody else. And I wanted to start by giving you a bit of context for where some of these practices that we'll be learning on the course have come from and the wider context in which they sit. So what we'll be learning form some of the fundamental core practices of something called the Wheel of Consent. And this is a tool that's been developed by one of my teachers and mentors, Dr. Betty Martin. And she's been working for many decades as a hands-on bodywork professional in various different contexts. She started as a chiropractor. She's also worked as a kinesiologist and she's also a certified sexological body worker. So she's had many decades of working hands-on with other people. And in her work with hundreds of clients and students, she started to notice that there were patterns that often came up, particularly in terms of interactive touch. And from what she noticed, she began to create what is now called the Wheel of Consent. And this is really a tool which helps us to take apart the patterns of giving and receiving and doing and being done to that most of us have never really thought about. Most of us have unconscious patterns around giving and receiving and doing and being done to, and the Wheel of Consent helps to start separating these out into separate experiences so that we can be more clear and more conscious when we're in a touch-based interaction. So for example, most of us think that giving means doing. And so quite often we'll refer to giving somebody a massage or we'll talk about receiving a massage. So in other words, when I'm the one doing, I'm giving the massage and equally, if you're doing it to me, I'm receiving. But of course, it's also possible to take action for yourself for something that you want. And so to receive a gift or to receive enjoyment through doing. And this is the key part of the practice that we're really going to be taking apart and getting to grips with in this course. So the key to learning to touch really is learning to touch for yourself, for your own benefit, to be active with touch for your own benefit. And that's something that can often take a little bit of getting used to. It's a bit different to how most of us usually approach the idea of touch and of giving and receiving. And a big part of this process is to start to get clear about what it is that you want for yourself. So in this course, we're really going to be diving into an embodied practice to help you figure out what it is that you actually want moment to moment as opposed to what you think you ought to want, or what you've been told you should want. And there are many things that can get in the way of what we actually want. So we're gonna be spending some time with this embodied practice to really start to understand how do I want to touch for my own enjoyment, for my own pleasure moment to moment? And this forms an essential parts of the Wheel of Consent. And so for that reason, I think of consent very much as a life skill. Because when you know what you want for yourself and when you're good at engaging with that, getting that for yourself, taking action for yourself, which is what we'll be looking at over this course, it means that it's then also much easier to put that aside cleanly and clearly and to willingly give a gift for somebody else. And so that gift might be to be of service to somebody else by doing something that they want, or it might be to willingly allow somebody else to do something to you that they want. And then when we get good at doing for ourselves for our own benefit, for our own enjoyment, then it becomes much easier to choose to set that aside for the benefit of somebody else. And this is why for me, it really forms a fundamental part of this life skill that I call consent. So inviting you to take some time now to engage with the next steps and exercises in this intro section. And I will see you again in the next module to start our practice together. - So we're going to be looking at Safety and the Nervous System as a foundation for the work that we'll be doing as we go through this course. And the information that I'm sharing here is based on the Stephen Porges' Polyvagal Theory, which you may have heard about. And if you haven't, that's okay. I'm not going to be blinding you with science, but it's useful to have an understanding of some of the processes that are happening in the body, particularly as we start to engage with touch so that you can have as much information as possible to help keep yourself safe and connected as we go through the processes. And I'm grateful to Robyn Dalzen and the School Of Consent for developing this particular visual model and simple explanation of Polyvagal Theory. So before we jump into getting too involved with the mind and thinking and looking at diagrams, I want to invite you to just take a moment and notice how your body is feeling in this moment. So noticing where in your body you feel tensions and where in your body you feel relaxed. Noticing where those feelings or those sensations are located in your body. And seeing if you can notice what it is that's telling you that you feel tension or relaxation. So even without needing to bring a lot of attention to the body, you're probably noticing some things about it already. You're getting information from it. You're getting data from it. So that's a process that's always happening even if we're not always consciously aware of it. It's going on in the background all the time. And Stephen Porges' Polyvagal Theory talks about our nervous system's ability to sense whether or not we're safe, so whether we're safe or whether we're not safe. And it does this through what he terms neuroception. So this is, our nervous system's perceiving our environment through all of our senses. And this is happening constantly, mostly without even us being consciously aware of it. And if it determines that we're not safe, it creates a stress response in the body. And there are three levels of response which activate different parts of the nervous system and different parts of the brain. And so for the purposes of the explanation here, I'm dividing these experiences into safe and not safe. And you'll see I've also divided the area into three sections. So we're gonna start on the top section. So in this top level we're using the most recent undeveloped part of the brain, which is the neocortex and in the body, the parts of the body that link into this part of the brain are from the chest upwards into the face, so the eye muscles, the ear muscles, the jaw, and this relates to how we breathe, how we use our voice, eye contact. So all of these things that are connected to this part of the brain. And what this does is it creates a state of social engagement. So this is a place where we feel connected, where we feel engaged. So in this place when noticing our experiences. So if you think back to that little intro that we did where I invited you to notice different things that you were noticing in your body. You were starting to use this part of your system, of the social engagement system to do that. And so in this area of the nervous system we create social contracts, we create agreement, so we communicate with others, and create safety not only for ourselves in our own body, but also in the groups and communities that we're in. So this involves language, it involves breath, vocalization, social organization. So these are all things that are connected with safety and with social engagement. And even when things might start to feel a little less safe, but still safe enough. Social engagement is a place of relative safety, the degree of that might vary, but this is where we also use communications to communicate in a crisis. So this allows us to communicate in a stressful situation. So for example, there might be an accident, so we need to communicate with the first aiders or the people who are trying to help, or if we're uncertain in a group, we might try to say the right thing to gain approval to help us feel a little bit more safe. And the social engagement system is developed in the first year of our development and it forms, it comes from our engagement with our caregiver. So cues from their face and from their eyes and their voice, their touch and from things like breastfeeding. So these all feed into helping our nervous system and our body to create a system of social engagement. And we start to develop the capacity for co-regulation with another person in order to develop a sense of safety with those where in connection with and with the environment around us. If our system starts to sense the were not safe, then we shift into a different part of our brain. And this is the limbic brain. So this is connected with our emotions and our animal body. And in the body, the areas of the body that this connects with are also central and they go upwards into the face. So the chest and the lungs, the hearts and the eyes. So this is a much more instinctive part of our brain and our body. And when we enter this part of our system, we start to mobilize and we start to speed up. So the body starts to activate and prepares itself for movement. And so on the not safe side, this manifests itself as mobilization, a state of mobilization with danger. So you may be familiar with the terms fight or flight. So this is where the fight/flight response starts to kick in. This is where we might experience fear or anger, or there might be a physical discharge that starts to happen with this mobilization with danger process. And the intention of this part, of this process of this process of mobilization is to move us back into the social engagement part of our system where we can feel safer again. So when we start to feel unsafe, our system will start to try and move us back into social engagement. But if that's not possible, if moving back towards safety is impossible, then our system will drop into the brainstem. So this is the oldest part of our system, and it operates at a really deep level and we have very little conscious control over. In the body this is from the chest downwards. So it's the organs, it's the guts. So we have little conscious control over what happens when we enter this part of our system. And what does happen is immobilization. So if we're feeling unsafe and we drop into this part of our body, immobilization with danger, this is where we experience a shutdown response, a collapse, we go into shock, everything slows down and our communication ability goes offline. So actually when we're in this part of our system, we can find it quite hard to speak or communicate in any way. And on this side, we also have a couple of hybrid states. So between mobilization and immobilization is a hybrid state of freeze. So again, this might be a term that you're familiar with. So this is a blended state between mobilization and immobilization, and it's where we're activated and we're engaged, but our system is flooded and trying to shut down. So if you think about a deer in headlights, it's rigid, it's maybe even shaking, but it's unable to move. So it's stuck between this place of mobilization and immobilization. And another hybrid state that we may experience is one called fawn. Sometimes this is also called tend and befriend. So this is where we try to use language to create connections to move away from the threat. So for example, in a hostage situation, we may try to befriend our captors, we may try to talk to them as a way of moving away from the danger and the threat that we feel is present. But we're still in a state of activation. We're still fearful, we're still alert, but we're using language as a way to try and move ourselves back into feeling safer with more social engagement. And each of these states, as you can see by the arrow, you can move between each of these states. So they're designed to protect us and to move us back towards this place of social engagements and safety. So when we collapse or when we freeze our body attempts to keep us safe enough for long enough to be able to get back into a state of mobilization. And then from there, we can get back into a state of social engagements and safety. So this is why the arrows go both ways between the states. And with all of these states, we're not necessarily choosing, our system is doing this automatically. Our system is designed to try and keep us safe. So these processes kick in automatically. It can be easy to feel judgmental, feel shame when we experience these states, but in actual fact, it's our biology trying to keep us safe, it's trying to bring us back into social engagement or prevent pain. So then when we're back in social engagement, we can also experience some other states on the side of safety. So we can mobilize with safety. So just as we can mobilize when there's danger, we can mobilize when there's safety as well. And we do this for daily activities. So for work, for interactions, recreation. So this is where we do things like sport or yoga or running, or body practices. So there's general daytime alertness here, and awareness of our environment and feeling active and engaged. And this is also where we experience the climax paths of sex. And again, you can see the arrow moving between social engagement and mobilization with safety. We can move between those two states. From mobilization with safety, we can also drop down into immobilization with safety. So this is where we rest and rebuild. So this is where relaxation happens. It's where sleep happens, digestion. So all of those baseline metabolic processes are happening to help the system rejuvenate, and it's the most vulnerable place in our system. So we can't go there unless we feel completely safe. So we have to drop into it from a place of mobilization with safety. And there's also a couple of hybrid states on the safe side as well. So there's a hybrid state of play, and this is between the social engagement and the mobilization. So this is when we're present with another while we're in some kind of motion. And then there's a hybrid state also of intimacy. So this is when I can relax with another person and feel safe with another person, there's some kind of interaction or some kind of dynamic interaction happening, but as a feeling of safety and relaxation. And again, we can't access the states on the safe side unless we've got social engagement first. So we can move from a state of social engagement down each side of the system here, but we can also move directly from some states to others. So I want to go into that in a little bit more detail. So if we're in immobilization with safety, we can move from that to the state of immobilization with danger. So an example of this might be if we're asleep and suddenly there's a loud noise and we'd wake up but we're kind of stuck, we're fearful, we're stuck and we're immobilized that suddenly there's danger. So we've gone from a state of being immobilized with safety, to being immobilized with danger, but we can't move the other way directly. So we can't go straight from immobilization with danger back to immobilization with safety, so if that sound finishes or goes away and there's nothing else. We have to move back up through the system on the not safe side. So we have to mobilize ourselves again to get back into a place of social engagement and then back down the safe side into a place with immobilization with safety. We can also move from immobilization with safety to mobilization with danger. So again, we might hear this loud noise and instantly jump up activated. And so, again, from this place of mobilization with danger, we can't go straight back into the place of immobilization with safety. We have to move back up through the nervous system, back into a place of social engagement and then back down the safe side. And we can move also from a place of being mobilized with safety to immobilized with danger. So for example, we might be crossing the street. So we're inaction, we're mobilized, we're crossing the street and suddenly a car hits us or a car clips us or nearly hits us. And we go into a state of shock where we can't move. So instantly our system will take us into this place of shock. And again, we need to reactivate in order to get back to social engagement. So from this place of shock, we need to find a way to move, to become active, still in this place of danger or fearfulness to get back into social engagements again. And we can move from mobilization with safety to mobilization with danger. So if you think about somebody who's playing a sport. For example, if they're playing football and they might get tripped by another player. So they'd go from a state where they're active and they're happy and they're socially engaged and everything's feels safe and then suddenly something happens, they get knocked over, or they bump into another player, or they get tripped by another player and suddenly they're in some kind of fight/flight response. There may be fear, there may be anger. So they've moved from mobilization with safety to mobilization with danger, but then usually what happens is there's a process of communication and social engagement gets reinstated and they can move back into the safe side of nervous system again. So basically when we end up on the not safe side of the system, we always need to go back through social engagement to restore the balance in our system and to reenter the safe side of our nervous system. So you can use this as a map to identify what's happening in your body, and then identify what you need next to feel safer in your body. So that might be to self-regulate, to slow down, to notice, to bring some attention to your breath, or you might need to get up and move or go for a walk or shakeouts, to take some action. You might need to orient yourself in your space, to look around you or look behind you, to see or touch objects that are around you. What are some of the other ways that you might have to self regulate? Your body probably already has some that you do already. Or you might want to co-regulate. So this is about connecting with another person, that might be to ask somebody to sit with you even just breathing together with somebody can help to regulate your nervous system, using somebody else's nervous system to regulate your own. You might want to ask somebody to listen to you. If you've had a stressful day or a difficult day, you might want to run your experiences for five minutes, or you might ask somebody to talk to you, to tell you, to reassure you that you're okay. Or even to touch you, to hold your hands or stroke your hair, to help your nervous system regulate alongside a nervous system that's already more regulated. I invite you to another quick practice here. And just wherever you are to recall a memory of how it feels to be in social engagement, to be safe in your body, to be in connection with another, maybe somewhere in nature. Notice the sensations and the movement in your body, notice how it feels. Maybe even expand this feeling you're noticing. What do you notice about your breath, or your muscles, your heart rate, your relaxation? So this can also be a resource for you. It only takes a few seconds to shift how your body feels just by visualizing something. So even a memory of something can create a visceral sense of safety. Why are we looking at this first? Well, many of us have had difficult experiences with touch, even traumatizing experiences, and these are held in the body. So when we start to explore touch, they can resurface as fearful activation, or even as shutdown. And especially connecting with what feels pleasurable may also bring up challenging responses in your nervous system. Again, because of previous experiences that we might've had. So knowing what you need or what you might need in order to navigate back to a feeling of more safety in your system is really important. And the practices in this course will help you ultimately to develop better connection and better awareness of social engagements on that part of your system. And particularly to start to develop tools to be able to notice and to communicate. So for your home practice, after watching this video, I invite you to write a list of things that you already know that you find helpful to regulate your nervous system. So you might have some tools that you already use to help you do this. And now that you know a bit more about how your nervous system works, you might have also noticed things that you're doing naturally which you recognize as helping to regulate your nervous system even if you weren't doing them consciously. And there may also be some ideas here that you've heard that you're not familiar with, but you'd like to try. So I invite you to write a list of all these things so that you've got something in black and white that you can come back and refer to as you move through your practices. And also I invite you to write a short list of how when you're not feeling safe you might be able to move from a state of immobilization, back to a state of mobilization, and then another short list of how you might move from there back to social engagement. So again, how you might use those tools consciously and how you might move from one state back to another so that you can get a clear sense for yourself of how you might start to navigate through your nervous system back into a state of social engagement and safety. - So I invite you to get comfortable for this quick grounding practice to begin with, so somewhere you can be for about five minutes, where you can be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. And I invite you to start by bringing your attention to your thoughts. Notice what's going through your mind right now. Are there judgements, or worries, or distractions? Inviting you to spend a moment, just noticing what your mind is up to. There's no need to do anything about any of the thoughts, we're just noticing what's happening in your mind right now. And then I invite you to bring your focus of attention to your breath. Noticing your breath as it flows in and out. Noticing the speed of your breath, is it fast or slow or somewhere in between? Noticing where in your body your breath is going. Is it deep, is it shallow? And not trying to change anything about it, but just noticing what is. And then I invite you to bring your attention to your body, and what do you notice there? So that might be the feel of it against whatever you're sitting on or lying on or standing on. It might be sensation in different parts of your body. Inviting you to spend some time noticing what you find in your body as you move your attention around. And also I invite you to notice what feelings or emotions might be present for you right now. And again, there's no need to do anything about them, we're just noticing. How does your body feel in this moment? And finally, I invite you to notice if there's somewhere in your body which would really like touch right now, and there's no requirement to do anything about that, but just to notice. Notice if there's nowhere in your body that might like touch right now. And if there is somewhere, notice what kind of touch it would like. And again, there's no need to take any action. Notice if you have any judgments that come up as you notice what kind of touch your body might like. This is just an opportunity to notice what you're noticing. And then I invite you to bring your awareness back to your breath. Noticing your breath again. And then inviting you to extend your awareness outwards towards your environment. So you might notice the sounds around you or the light quality, or the air temperature. And if you've had your eyes closed, you might want to open them. And bring your focus of awareness back to yourself in your space. So what we've been exploring very gently here is the three levels of noticing that are possible. So we can notice our thoughts, we can notice what's going on in our head. We can notice sensations, and we can notice feelings, which might be emotions. So at the end of this practice, I invite you to spend a few moments journaling some lines about what you noticed in this practice. Did you notice thoughts? Did you notice sensations or feelings? And if you did, what did you notice about them? - [Narrator] We live in a world which is goal-oriented. We tend to place more importance on the action, on the outcome, rather than the process. So if someone offers us touch or if we have an instinct to be touched, it's usually the touch itself that we focus on. But there's actually a whole process of choosing that needs to happen before we even get to the touch itself. And most of the time we go through this process without even being aware of it. Firstly, we have to notice that we have a need or a want. This might happen because we notice this ourselves or because someone makes a suggestion. We become aware of a need or a want, for example, a massage. And then most of us would think of the next step as being the massage itself. But even if we've noticed our need or our want, we have to trust that it's safe to get it. You might want a shoulder massage, but you'd probably have a very different reaction if you were offered one by the person standing behind you on the bus than if you were offered one by your best friend or your partner. Even if you trust the person and the context, there's still another stage that needs to happen. You have to value it. This can be about many things, including your own sense of self worth or your expectations of what another person might be thinking. Even if we do manage to notice what it is we need or want, trust it enough to feel safe, value ourselves enough to try and get it, we then still have to find a way to communicate it to the other person, and that can be hard, especially if we don't fully trust or value our own need or the situation. Let's say we do find our way to communicate. Then we finally get to the action. The action is the point that most people want to get to, it's the most visible outcome, and it's the cultural norm. But really it's the choosing that's the most important parts of any process, not the action. The choosing will determine whether or not we even get to the action. Sometimes, if we're too keen to get straight to the action, we may even end up overriding our real needs. By slowing down, by taking time to become more aware of what's happening when we have an instinct for touch, we can start to experience each part of the process more consciously. And when we can start to notice, to trust, to value, and to communicate, then we get to really choose how to get what it is we really want the way we really want it. - So why are we starting with the hands? Well, your hands contain more nerve endings than any other parts of the body except the lips and the genitals. So for this reason, they are really the perfect conduit for connection, but I'm imagining that you probably never thought of your hands as much more than tools for achieving tasks. And for most of us, the hands are also a place that's relatively neutral or safe in the body. So all of this combines together to make the hands one of the ideal parts of the body to learn how to rewire your neural pathways, with plenty of opportunity for experiencing a depth of sensation. And of course, you can also do this with any other parts of your skin. So if hands aren't a great option for you, for some reason, you can also try other areas of the skin where your nerve endings are closer to the surface. So this might be inside your arms or your neck. With this practice of starting to connect to the nerve endings in the skin of yours, what you're doing is starting to bring your focus of awareness to the inflow of data, to the nerve endings in your skin. So in other words, you're starting to notice sensation, how things feel. So when you look at something, you might expect it to feel a certain way, but if you're able to put aside your expectations and start to notice the actual sensation that you're experiencing in your skin, when you touch it, you might find some surprising things. For most of us, this is something we've never really done before. So it can feel a bit strange to begin with, and it can take a little time to get used to. So that's why this is a practice that we're engaging with. The more you do it, the more you can actually begin to feel, and it'll start to feel less strange. And the important thing to remember as you do this practice, as you move through your practice, is that the quality of touch really depends less on what you're doing with your hands, and what your noticing and taking in through the nerve endings in your skin. In other words, in order to build up your touch skills, it's not how you touch, that's the important thing, but what you notice while you're doing it. And that's really at the heart of the practice that we're starting to build here. - So welcome to the first of our main practices. And before we get going, I'd like to spend a little bit of time just helping you to get set up as best possible to really give your body the best chance to be able to drop into the practice that we're doing. So there's a couple of things that can help you with this. So firstly, I invite you to be somewhere, either seated or lying, but most importantly, where you can be well-supported. So particularly where your trunk is well-supported. So leaning against something. Or of course, if you're lying, you'll be supported by what you're lying on. And the reason for doing this is that it really is... As soon as we support our trunk, it really starts to send a signal to the body. Okay, this is relaxing time now, I don't have to work, I'm not on alert, I'm not ready for action. The body is able to start dropping into more of a relaxed state and the muscles can start to relax. And that's really what we're aiming to do is to get to a place of being as relaxed as possible. And also having some way that you can relax your head and lean your head back. So again, for the same reason, this is all designed to help your body reach as much relaxation as possible. So having your head up means that a little part of you is still working, your neck muscles are still working. So if you can lean your head back and have it supported, that just helps the body to drop a little further into relaxation. And I'd also invite you to have a cushion or a pillow that you can have on your lap and that you can rest your hands on. And again, this is for the same reason, our hands are really used to being tools for working, tools for achieving things, for doing tasks. So they don't often get the chance to just kick back and relax. And so, having a cushion where they can be well-supported really helps the body to feel, okay, this is something different, this is an opportunity to just be relaxed without having to work. And I invite you to have a couple of objects. So these can be as random as you like. They don't have to have any significance. But having them close at hand so that you can just reach out and grab them easily. And as we go through the practice, I'm going to be inviting you to have your eyes closed as we do it to begin with. And of course, if that's not comfortable for you, you can have your eyes open. But the reason why I'm inviting eyes closed is that when we pick up an object and when we start to look at it, we often start to attach meaning to it. And so, one of the things that we want to try and do with this practice is to move away from the meaning-making. So having eyes closed can really help us drop into the experience that we're gonna be having with this object without seeing it and creating stories and meaning around it. Okay, so let's begin the first practice now. So invite you to choose an object, to begin to pick up the object. And as you do that, your brain will probably start to name it, it may give it a meaning, a function. So I invite you to speak that out loud as you notice it. So I'm noticing that this is pink, it's plastic. It's a child's toy. It's probably part of a set. So I'm giving meaning to this. My brain is doing its job, basically. I'm noticing what this is and I'm giving it a context and a meaning. So take a moment just to notice out loud what you see when you pick up your object. And then I invite you to settle back, making sure you're supported and relaxed. And bring your attention to your hands. And start to notice what you find there as your hands touch this object. You might notice the shape of the object. Or the weight of the object. You might notice the texture of it. Or even the temperature of it. Inviting you to start to bring the focus of your awareness to the sensations in your hands. And closing your eyes if that feels comfortable. So that you can really bring as much awareness as possible to what you feel in your hands and what you notice about that. Exploring this object with your hands. And there's no where to go, nothing to achieve. Just getting used to just paying with this object, hanging out with it, spending time with it. And whatever speed your hands are moving right now, I invite you to try slowing the speed of your touch down by half, and see what you notice. If you find you get distracted or thoughts creep in, I invite you to bring your focus of awareness back to the sensation that you're noticing in your hands as you explore this object. And keeping your hands as well-supported as they can being on the cushion or the pillow or on your body. Remembering this is their opportunity to play, to explore, not to work. And taking in as much air as you need to. What do you notice about the sensation in your hands as you explore this object? And how does it feel to notice these things? Taking another minute to explore the sensations with this particular object. Slowing the speed of your touch right down. And then I invite you to bring your touch to a still point, and to put this object aside and pick up another object that you have nearby. And as you pick up this second object, inviting you to make sure your body is still well-supported, that you're leaning back, your head is well-supported, your hands are well-supported. And again, as you pick it up, you might want to take a moment and notice it. Notice what it's made of. Notice what it's for. Let your brain give all that meaning to the object that it's designed to do. What do you notice about the shape of it? What it's made of, the weight of it. And then settling back, closing your eyes if that's comfortable for you. And bringing your focus of attention to your hands and the sensations that you feel there as you start to explore this second object. Noticing the textures. Noticing how this object might feel different from the first one. Exploring this object, however your hands want to. Keeping them well-supported. And whatever speed your hands are moving at right now, I invite you to try slowing the speed of your touch down by half again, and see what you notice. What do you notice about the sensations in your hand as you explore this object? And taking in as much air as you need. There's nothing to achieve here. It's just you and the object and an opportunity to notice how it feels. And there's no right way or wrong way to feel this object. And if you notice distractions coming up for you, just bringing your focus and awareness back to the sensation in your hands. How does it feel to notice these sensations? How does it feel to make choices about what to focus on? Taking another minute to really explore as many sensations as you can find with this object. And then I invite you to bring your movement to a still point. And just to place the second object to one side. And then to finish this practice with a minute in stillness, just absorbing your experience. There's no need to do anything about anything. Just being with your body. Letting whatever your experience was with those two objects settle into your body. And then if you've had your eyes closed, I invite you to open them gently. So notice yourself in your space. Maybe notice how your body feels against whatever you're sitting or lying on. Bringing some movement to your body. Taking a few breaths. (exhales) And then taking some time to journal about what you noticed with each of the objects. What were the similarities? What were the differences? What did you notice about the sensation you experienced? - So for this quick practice, I invite you to start by positioning yourself in your space so that you can see it. And just starting to look around your space, wherever you are, taking it in with your eyes. You might see things that are very familiar, you might be somewhere you don't know so well, you might see things that you've seen a hundred times before. So I invite you to see with fresh eyes, whether you're in a familiar space or an unfamiliar one. And as you look around your space and take it in with your eyes, I invite you to start to notice where you have an impulse to look, or maybe where you have an impulse not to look. So starting to notice what draws your attention as you look around this space. And then also notice what you do with that impulse. Do you follow it or do you override it or ignore it? So as you look around your space, taking it in with your eyes, noticing where you have impulses to direct your attention and what you do with those impulses. And there's no right or wrong to this, so just noticing what you notice without trying to change or correct anything. And I invite you to notice, as you move your gaze around your space, I invite you to notice something that delights you to look at. Noticing what it is that you find interesting about it. Maybe the shape of it, or the color of it, or the texture of it, or the way it sits in the space in relation to other things. And noticing what it is that tells you this is something delightful to look at. And then notice when you've taken in enough of it and allow your eyes to be drawn to something else that delights you to look at. And again, noticing what it is about this next thing that you find delightful. How do you know this is delightful for you? Are there signals in your body that tell you this is delightful? And then I invite you to come back to yourself, bringing your focus of awareness back to yourself, and you might want to close your eyes at this point if you want to. And just spend a minute noticing your body, noticing how it feels, integrating what you've experienced in this practice. And no need to do anything or achieve anything or make sense of anything. And as you come to the end of the practice, I invite you to spend a few minutes journaling. What did you notice in this practice? What did you notice about your impulses and how you followed or how you didn't follow them? - So we've talked about the process that happens to enable touch, and now I want to talk a little bit about a touch itself. So it's the sense that's with us the longest through life, with the first one to develop in the womb. And for most of us, it's usually still with us when we die, even after other senses have failed. And it's really essential for our well-being, the health benefits have been well-proved, including weight loss, stress reduction. And in fact, it's so essential, that children who aren't touched enough can actually die without getting enough touch. So the neurobiology that's going on, involves oxytocin, which means that even with self-touch, this can help to regulate the nervous system and help us feel calmer and safer. So it's a really essential part of our kit to wellbeing. And touch is also a primary neural pathway for processing information, so studies have shown that touch can be more accurate than visuals to identify emotions. So there've been some blind studies that have been done, showing a greater recognition of an emotion when it was conveyed through unseen touch by a stranger, than when viewing the emotion in the face of a stranger. So it's really quite a powerful way of communicating information. And we also tend to learn quicker when we feel something. So again, touch can make a really ideal learning container, which is what we're using here. But for many of us, touch has become problematic, and I'd like to invite you into a mini practice now. And this is an invitation, it's not compulsory, and you're welcome to stop at any time, so I really invite you to look after your wellbeing through this practice. And remembering as you go through it, the tools that you've identified in yourself for regulating your own nervous system back towards safety. So I invite you to start by bringing your focus to your breath. Just noticing your breath. And then I invite you to place a hand on a part of your body that helps you to feel safe. And that might be a part of your body in this moment, or one that you're familiar with. And breathing into that, connecting your breath with your hand. And then I invite you to bring to mind a memory of a time that you didn't enjoy touch. Notice how your body feels now, remembering to breathe. Connecting visually with your surroundings, if that's helpful. And then bringing your focus back to your breath, letting that memory go. And then bringing to mind a memory of a time that you enjoyed being touched. Notice any difference in how your body feels now. And then I invite you to bring your awareness back to your space, back to yourself in your space. Looking around you, looking behind you, maybe reaching out and touching something, or touching yourself if you want to. So all of us have been touched against our will, right from the moment we were born. Our caregivers, as a baby were feeding us, changing our nappies. Even if we were crying or protesting, they did it anyway, because they had our best interests at heart, hopefully. And then as we got older, we may have been made to hug granny, or friends or colleagues, or even strangers with other poor boundary awarenesses. Right through to the other end of the spectrum, with deliberate physical abuse. So unconsenting, or unagreed touch has pretty much become the norm for most of us. We've become so used to going along with or putting up with or enduring touch, that we often barely notice that this is happening. And the me too. Movement, is starting to change our awareness around this, and our awareness around consent. But this raises the new issues, particularly when it comes to touch. So consent and touch are often conflated with sex, and our culture often has a narrative, which is consent equals touch and touch equals sex. And sex can be a scary and challenging place for a lot of us. Most of us have had very little education around it, so it's quite a vulnerable place for us to go to. And a vulnerable or challenging space is probably not the best place to be trying to figure out what our limits and what our boundaries are. So if you think back to the Notice Trust Value and Communicate piece that we learned, and the process that happens there, and how often we place importance on the touch and not the process. You can understand why it might become easier to turn away from touch altogether, rather than have to deal with the challenges that it brings. And this is one of the reasons why relearning or learning to touch is best done on our own actually to begin with. Because it reduces the vulnerable or challenging elements that we've actually spent a lifetime learning, are usually present when we come into interaction with another person. So this self-practice that we're learning here, and when we do it, what we're starting to do is to come back to our own body as a place of autonomy and a place of safety, in order to learn and in order to reset our system. - So welcome to our second main practice. So just a quick recap before we get going on the set up. So making sure that you're somewhere that you can be really well supported in your trunk so that you've got the best chance to relax into the practice. Again, if you can have somewhere that your head is leaning back, so your head and neck are also well-supported. And also having a cushion or pillow on your lap so that your hands kind of also be well supported, so you can really drop into the practice and feel like there's nowhere that you need to be, nothing that you need to achieve. You can just be in the moment with this practice. And inviting you also to have an object to hand, that you're going to explore for this practice. So I invite you to begin by picking up this object, looking at it, naming it, giving it a meaning, maybe a function, a context. And then inviting you to close your eyes if that feels comfortable. And settle back, settle in. And bring your focus to what you feel in your hands. And what you notice about the qualities of this object. The shape of it. The weight of it. The textures on it. Maybe even the temperature of it. Noticing the sensations that you experience in your hands as you start to explore all these different aspects of this object. What do you notice about how this object feels? And taking in as much breath as you need to. Making sure that your hands are as well supported as they can be. Your body is as relaxed as it can be. And inviting you to try slowing the speed of your touch down. Maybe even by half. And what do you notice when you do that? What do you notice about the sensation? Taking all the time you need to explore this object with your hands. And to bring your focus and awareness to the sensation in your hands as you explore. And inviting you to get curious about how this object feels, so bringing your curiosity. How does this object feel in different parts of your hand? Maybe the back of your hand. Or your wrist. Or your fingernails. Or the palm of your hand or between your fingers. So inviting you to start to notice the impulses for where and how you touch this object. Do you trust those impulses? Noticing also the difference in different parts of the object. Does it all feel the same? Does it have different sections? So starting to bring your curiosity about what's there and how it feels. Notice how curious you're able to get about this object. Notice if you have impulses for how or where you want to touch. And what you do with those. Do you ignore them? Move on? Do you follow them? What happens if you follow your impulses for how you want to touch this object? Where does that lead? Inviting you to take in as much breath as you need, allowing the air to flow in and out. However it needs to. I'm inviting you to slow the speed of your touch right down. Remembering there's nothing to achieve, there's no right or wrong way to do this. Just noticing what you notice as you explore this object with as much curiosity as you can bring. I'm inviting you to experiment. Are you able to notice the difference when you touch the object, as opposed to when the object touches you? what do you notice about that? What do you notice about your impulses for how you want to touch this object? What do you notice about what you do with those impulses? And inviting you to follow those impulses as much as you're able, with curiosity. Taking your time to see where those impulses might lead. And always bringing your focus of awareness back to the sensation in your hands. What do you notice about the sensation as you explore? Taking another minute or so to really bring all your curiosity. Noticing your impulses. Noticing sensation. And then I invite you to bring your touch to a still point, maybe putting the object to one side. And just finishing with a minute in stillness. Giving your body a chance to absorb the experiences it just had. And there's no need to do anything with them. Or makes sense of them. Just taking a moment to be with your body at the end of this practice. And then as you finish this practice, as you open your eyes, bring yourself back into connection with your surroundings, I invite you to spend some time journaling about what you noticed in this practice, and what you noticed when you started to get curious. What did you notice about your impulses? What did you notice about where you went, where they took you, if you followed them. What did you notice about how easy or difficult it was to follow your impulses? So taking some time now to journal about all these things that you noticed from your experience in this practice. - So for this quick practice, I invite to start by finding somewhere comfortable to be for about five minutes where you can be relaxed. That might be sitting or lying or standing. And just taking a moment to land in your body from wherever you've come from. Noticing your breath. Noticing how your body feels. And as you scan your body and notice what's there, what's present for you, I invite you to notice somewhere in your body which feels nice. So you might find places that are achy or uncomfortable, and I invite you to move pass those, to acknowledge them and then move on, and see if you can find somewhere in your body that feels nice. Notice what the qualities are that tell you this. Might be sensation. Might be emotion or feeling. Or it might just be an absence of not nice. So whatever it is that feels nice might be quite subtle. So inviting you to see if you can notice somewhere in your body that feels nice in this moment right now. And there may be more than one place. And if you could offer this part of your body the touch that it most wanted right now in this moment, what might that be? And it might be for no touch. And I'm inviting you to take as long as you need to get clear about this. So it might take you a while hanging out with this part of your body to really feel into what touch would it most want right now. And really inviting you to figure out what would feel like, oh yeah, that would be great. Rather than just like, mm yeah, that will be okay. So there's no right or wrong to any of this, but only while you notice would feel good to your body right now. And then when you're clear on what that is, I invite you to speak that desire out loud before you do anything about it. So that might sound something like, my face wants to be stroked, or my right knee wants to be tickled, or my feet want to be held, or my left ear doesn't want any touch at all. And when you've identified the touch and spoken it out loud, then I invite you to spend four or five breaths giving that part of your body the touch that it most wants right now. And then inviting you to come back to stillness and bring your awareness of attention back to your body again. Just spending a moment with your body without doing anything, without needing to achieve anything. Allowing your body to integrate the experience it's just had. And then inviting you to take a few moments after this practice to journal a few lines about what you noticed as you went through this practice. - [Michael] The word pleasure can mean a lots of different things to different people. The dictionary describes it as a feeling of joy or happiness, or a physiological experience. And that's true, but if you asked your friends what pleasure means to them, you might hear a lot more variety in their experiences. We often talk about giving pleasure, but it's not actually something someone can give you. It happens in your body as a combination of three elements. Stimulus is the data or sensation that your nerve endings or senses are taking in, maybe the feel of a cushion or the smell of a flower, Then there's context. This is the situation or the meaning your mind gives to what's happening. If your friend gives you a hug at home, you might enjoy it, but if a stranger gave you one in the street, you might have a very different reaction. And finally, there's attention. This is where and how much you choose to place your focus. I'll probably enjoy an experience more if I'm focusing on it fully than if I'm trying to remember my shopping list at the same time. We tend to feel the most pleasure when we're fully engaged with all three elements, but the elements may not always be equal. We can dial them up or down in different combinations to change our experience of pleasure. For example, an ice cream might taste better when you pay more attention to the sensation of its flavor. Focusing on sensation might help you enjoy a massage more if you're distracted by your surroundings. And a hug might feel more pleasurable in the safe context of home than out in public. We have the least control over the stimulus that comes into our body. We have a little more control over the context or the meaning we give. But we have the most control over how we place our attention. So learning to choose what to focus on is a great way to help us become aware of what feels good. The most important thing to remember is that the experience of pleasure is happening in your own body, and you don't need anybody else for that. - So there are two routes to experiencing pleasure, the direct routes and the indirect routes. And in this video, we're gonna look at what each of these involve and why the direct route is so important and also why many of us have lost touch with it. And how the practices that we're exploring in this course can help you reconnect to it. So I invite you to start by thinking about the practices that we've been doing with feeling the objects. So this is the process that's happening in the body when we do that. So, we feel something, hands touches something, the object and the nerve endings in your hands or your skin that are processing that sensation, send information up into the brain and that lights up pleasure centers in your brain. So there's a response in the body and the brain from touching the objects. So, the sensation of touching the object sends data into the brain which tells certain parts of the brain, this feels good and the brain might say, more please. This is called the direct route. Now something similar happens when another person is involved. So when you touch another person, you see their response. So you touch them, you see their response hands, that might be a reaction that you want. So that also sends an impulse into the pleasure center of your brain and lights up the same centers and that makes you feel good. So it tells you that something you are doing to them, that's coming through that reaction is telling you that this makes them feel good which then in turn makes you feel good. And this is called the indirect route. So this is where it's happening when somebody says, for example, I get pleasure from giving you pleasure, is that the pleasure that's being experienced is coming through the indirect route. And that can be a wonderfully enjoyable experience. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, both the direct routes and the indirect routes can be equally wonderful ways to experience pleasure. The problem comes when you become disconnected from your direct routes and lots of things that could cause this. So, some of the things that might cause a disconnection from your direct route are belief systems, how you were raised, your family, cultural conditioning, shame or guilt, not being allowed or for not being okay to feel pleasure or to feel selfish for feeling pleasure, or just that you might never have learned how to understand, how to process pleasure. So there are lots of things that can disconnect us in different ways from our direct routes. And we've all got some of these disconnections just going through life and the experiences that we have in life, the experiences we have being caught of the different communities that we're part of will create different disconnections. So they're not wrong and they're not bad. They're just a way that we found to keep ourselves safe, to keep ourselves connected to things that are important to us and to get our needs met for survival, particularly. But the disconnection from the direct route leads to a reliance on the indirect route. And this is a problem because it can become a substitute or a bypass for being able to find pleasure in our own bodies. So if we don't have good access to our direct routes, and when you can't feel your own pleasure, the only option you have for getting pleasure is that for to get it via another person's pleasure. And if your communication skills aren't great or their communication skills aren't great then that can lead to quite a lot of confusion or it might even lead to a situation where you end up taking, effectively taking somebody hostage. So an example of that might be, if you imagine I'm touching you and I'm giving her a massage and to begin with, you're giving me a reaction, it feels quite good. So you're kind of saying, hmm, yes, hmm, lovely. And so through the indirect routes, my brain is interpreting that as, oh, they're enjoying what I'm doing and that makes me feel good, that I'm able to give them pleasure. So, I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing. And so I keep doing the massage and you keep thinking, hmm, yes, it's still all right but I wanna please them. So I want him to think that I'm enjoying this, so I'll keep making encouraging noises. And so that tells my brain, oh yes, keep doing this, this is yeah, they are having a really great time and that's making me feel fantastic. So I'm just gonna keep doing this massage. By which time you're kind of thinking, okay, I quite like this to be over now, but I really don't want them to be upset with me. So I'm just gonna keep smiling and going, yeah, yeah, oh lovely. You can kind of see how both of us are ending up in a bit of a loop where actually who's enjoying it, who's it for, who's getting anything out of it. It can get confusing quickly. So this course is about learning to connect with the direct route, with your direct routes. And so with the waking the hands practice, what you're doing is you're reestablishing the neural pathways from the hands into the brain. And in other words, the direct routes to pleasure. And this is a method of self regulation. So the hands are connected to our emotional centers. And when you engage in touch, you release oxytocin. So you may remember that. I mentioned that previously as one of the positive aspects of touch including self-touch. And so there's the reason this is positive is it blocks the release of oxytocin, blocks the release of cortisol and adrenaline and those are related to stress and mobilization and flight in the nervous system. So when we engage with touch, we can help to regulate our nervous system. And that's why it's really such a fundamental piece because most of us are at least partly disconnected from our direct route just as a result of having gone through life. And some of us may be completely and totally disconnected from it. So when we can connect to pleasure in our own bodies, it gives us more autonomy and more choice. And we don't need to depend on somebody else who comes with all their opinions and all their baggage and all their own disconnections. We don't need to rely on them to experience pleasure. We can find it for ourselves. - So welcome to our third main practice. And so, as before with the other practices, inviting you to get set up by being comfortable, well-supported, having somewhere you can lean back against, somewhere your head can rest and be well-supported and having a cushion or pillow for your lap, if you're sitting so that your hands can also be well-supported. And then choosing your object for the practice. It really can be random. I've literally just picked up a light bulb here. And starting to notice it. Letting your mind do its job, naming it, giving it a function, and then allowing your body to settle. Closing your eyes if that feels comfortable. And just bringing your focus of awareness and attention to your hands. And starting to notice what you find there as you begin to explore this object with your hands. Noticing the sensation, noticing the shape of the object, textures that it has, and maybe the weight of it, temperature of it. And noticing all the sensation in your hands. And slowing of the speed of your touch right down. So if your hands are moving fast, I invite you to slow the speed right down, maybe even by half. See what you notice when you do that. There's no rush. There's nothing to achieve and nowhere else to be. Just you and this object for a little while. And noticing how it feels. Noticing how sensation feels in your hands and bringing your curiosity to this exploration of this object. And also noticing your impulses. Do your hands move of their own accord, or are you thinking about where they move next? Seeing if you can find a way to let your hands just explore however they want to, to follow their own impulses. And being curious about where that takes you and noticing what you find when you follow those impulses. Where does that lead? How does that feel? Does it feel easy to follow your impulses or is it hard? Inviting you to experiment with how you touch this object. How does it feel to touch different parts of the object? Does it feel different in different places? Do different parts of the object give different sensations? And how does it feel to touch the object with different parts of your hand? How does it feel different on the wrist from the back of the hand or the knuckles or between the fingers? Taking in all the air that you need to and keeping your hands as well-supported as they can be on the cushion. And as you explore and as you experiment, you may start to notice that some things feel a bit more enjoyable than others. You might start to notice that there are bits of your hand where a sensation feels more enjoyable, or parts of the object which feel more enjoyable to touch or explore. I'm inviting you to get curious about what feels enjoyable for you about this object in this moment right now. And that might be very subtle. So inviting you to see if you can notice the differences and the shifts between where something feels okay and when something feels like, mm, yes. I'm inviting you to slow the speed of your touch right down and noticing your impulses for how you want to touch this object for your own enjoyment. There's no right way or wrong way to feel enjoyment. So noticing what feels enjoyable for you in this moment as you touch this object. And are you able to follow that? If you find somewhere that feels a little bit more enjoyable than the last place, inviting you to follow that, to hang out there for a while and see what you notice, and what happens if you stay with what feels pleasurable for a little while, until it stops feeling so pleasurable and then just moving on with your exploration until you find something else that feels enjoyable or pleasurable, and inviting you to hang out with that for a while. And allowing the breath to move in and out as you need. And noticing the sensations as you explore with curiosity, as you follow your impulses, as you notice what feels good, as you notice how you want to touch this object for your own enjoyment. How does that feel? And you may notice that emotions come up or feelings. And if they do, I invite you to notice them as much as possible without judgment. Letting them be whatever they need to be. And continuing with your exploration. What feels good for you about this object? How do you want to touch this object? And what do you notice about the sensations as you follow pleasure and enjoyment? Is it familiar? Is it surprising? And allowing your hands and your body to be as relaxed as possible, well-supported. There's nothing you need to achieve. There's no right or wrong way to do this. Just noticing what feels enjoyable for you. How do you want to explore this object for your own enjoyment? Nobody else to think about, just you, just you and the sensation that you notice in your hands, in your skin and what feels good about that. Taking another minute to explore, get curious, and notice all these elements. And then I invite you to bring your movement to a still point and put the object to one side. And just take a minute to be with your body, be with your hands, without needing to do anything, without needing to find meanings or do anything about what you've just experienced. Just allow your body to integrate and process the experience it's just had. And then bringing your awareness back to the space that you're in, opening your eyes if they were closed, taking a moment to move, to stretch, to breathe. And taking some time now to journal about your experience and what you noticed in your experience. What did you notice about what felt enjoyable and what happened when you followed or stayed with what felt enjoyable? Were you able to do that? If you weren't, what did you notice about your experience? What did you notice about the sensation of enjoyment? Where did you notice that? How did you notice that? So inviting you to take some time now at the end of this practice to journal about what you noticed in your practice about enjoyment and pleasure. - [Instructor] When we talk about receiving, we often think of something coming towards us. This could happen in several different ways. I can receive something lovely, like a surprise gift of a delicious apple, or I can receive something unpleasant, like a parking fine. In both cases, something I haven't chosen is coming towards me, whether I want it or not. But I can also receive something I actively want. And there are a couple of ways this can happen. The apples on my neighbor's tree look delicious. And when I say I'd like one, my neighbor brings me over a gift. But instead of bringing the apples to me, they might've said to come and take one myself. In both cases, I'm receiving a gift of the fruit, but in the first case, my neighbor is doing. And in the second case, I'm doing. But the fruit is for me in each case. And I'm receiving something I want, whether someone brings it to me or I go out and get it for myself. - [Michael] Hello, I'm Michael Dresser. This is a 15 minute guided practice of Waking Up The Hands. Which is one of the key practices of the wheel of consent. And also one of the key practices in learning to touch. So before you begin your practice, I invite you to find somewhere to sit that you have good support for your back and your trunk. So that could be in a chair. It could be on the floor, or you might choose to be lying down. The important thing is to make sure that your trunk is really well supported so that you can relax fully into whatever position you're sitting or lying in. And your body doesn't feel like it's on duty or working. And also to have a cushion, which you can put on your lap if you're sitting in a chair or sitting up. And again, this is for the same reason, you're looking to help your hands to relax as much as possible as you do this practice. So having a cushion that you can rest your hands on in your lap in a comfortable position, really helps your hands to feel that they're not working. So this is an opportunity for your hands to play if you like rather than to work. So you want to give them as much opportunity to really feel that they're doing that as possible. So, there's nothing for them to achieve. And the other thing that you'll need to have with you before you begin is an object. So this can be any object you like, as long as you can hold it fairly easily in your hands. And I invite you to find an object that has as little meaning as possible. So we're going to be feeling the object. So again, the more we can take away from the meaning, the more likely we're able to drop into our felt experience of the object. Often there's a temptation to try and find an object that looks nice, or that has nice associations in some way. And actually what's great about this practice is picking up the nearest thing that you have to hand, however, random that is whatever that might be made of. And that really helps to drop into the practice of feeling what's there rather than feeling what you expect to be there or hope to be there. So as you sit wherever you're sitting, making sure you're well supported, with your hands on the cushion if you're using the cushion. And I invite you just to bring your focus to your breath to begin with. Just noticing your breath in your body, noticing the air as it moves in and out of your body, noticing how that feels. Maybe noticing the depths of your breaths, how deep or how shallow it is. And not trying to change your breath, but just noticing how it is naturally in this moment right now. And then I invite you to pick up this object if you haven't already. And bringing it to your hands and starting to explore this object with your hands noticing how this object feels. What's there for you right now with this object. What do you notice about it? Maybe the shape or maybe the weight of the object, or the texture. Does it have more than one texture? Maybe even the temperature of the object, starting to notice the sensations as you feel this object. Noticing the sensations in your hands as your nerve endings, take in the data from this object. Allowing the breath to flow naturally taking in as much air as you need. And there's nowhere to be, nowhere to go. And there's nothing to achieve, there's nothing to do with this object. Other than just bringing your curiosity and exploration through your hands. Noticing how it feels to just be with this object without having to achieve anything. As much as you can, making sure your hands stay supported so they can really feel like they're not working, they're exploring and playing. And I invite you to try slowing the speed of your touch down by half and see what you notice. What are you noticing about the sensations in your hands as you explore this object, as you feel this object? What do you notice about this object as you feel it? Noticing if you're making choices about how to feel the object, what do you notice about the choices that you're making? How you move your hands, where you move your hands. And I invite you to bring a real curiosity to how this object feels for you in this moment, right now. Perhaps noticing how it feels in different parts of your hand. How does this object feel on the back of your hand, or your fingernails, or your palm, or your wrist. Really bringing a curiosity of exploration as you feel this object and noticing the sensations as you move around this object with your hands. Noticing whether it feels different in different parts of your hand. And also exploring as much of the object as possible. How do different parts of the object feel. Does it all feel the same? Does it have different aspects to it? Okay, I'm taking in as much air as you need, allowing the breath to flow naturally in and out. And as you continue your exploration, noticing your impulses for where and how you want to touch this object. Noticing how much you trust those impulses. So you follow those impulses or do you ignore them? Noticing what happens when you follow an impulse for how you want to touch this object in this moment right now. Maybe also noticing what happens if you don't follow, if you ignore an impulse or pass over it. Inviting you again, to try slowing the speed of your touch down by half and see what you notice. Really bringing your curiosity, to the sensations you're experiencing, and the impulses you're experiencing, as you feel this object. Maybe noticing the differences when you touch the object or when the object touches you, is there a difference? How many different ways can you feel this object? How many different ways do you want to feel this object? And if you notice destructions or thoughts creeping in or stories about what's happening or judgements, just noticing them, allowing them to be present and not trying to do anything about them. And if you find yourself distracted, bringing your focus back to the sensation that you notice in your hands, and what do you notice about how this object feels in your hands, in this moment right now? And as you bring your curiosity and your exploration, you might start to notice that certain parts of the object or certain parts of your hands might feel a little bit more enjoyable than others. So as you explore, I invite you to see if you can differentiate the shifts between when it feels okay and when it feels more like a yes. And these may be very subtle. We often expect things that are enjoyable or pleasurable to be really obvious. I invite you to notice the subtlety of shifts as you explore the object with your hands. Notice when something feels a little bit more enjoyable. Noticing how you want to touch this object for your own enjoyment in this moment, right now. And again, slowing your touch right down, maybe even by half. And see what you notice about what feels enjoyable for you about this object. And when you find something that feels a little bit more enjoyable, noticing what happens if you stay with that. And follow that enjoyment, wherever it leads until it stops feeling so enjoyable and then continuing with your exploration. So the invitation is to really follow the pleasure, whatever that means for you with this object right now. Noticing how that feels, noticing how it feels to follow what's enjoyable about this object for you. And noticing if emotions come up and they may do and they may not. And just noticing them without judgment. And then bringing your focus back to the sensation that you're feeling in your hands. How do you want to touch this object for your own enjoyment in this moment right now? What do you notice about how that feels? Taking a few more minutes to continue your exploration of enjoyment with this object. Maybe there is some parts of the object or parts of your hand that you haven't had a chance to explore yet. Or maybe you'd like to revisit somewhere that felt particularly enjoyable. Bringing your curiosity and your focus of attention to how you want to touch this object for your own enjoyment in this moment. How does this object feel pleasurable for you right now? Allowing the breath to flow naturally in and out taking in all the air that you need. And then gradually slowing the speed of your touch right down until you reach a still point. Holding the object lightly in your hands or you may want to put it to one side. And spending a minute, bringing your focus back to your breath, back to your body. Noticing what's present in your body without any need to do anything about it. Allowing your experience of your exploration with this object to land and to settle. Noticing the breath as it flows in and out. And gradually becoming aware of your surroundings, the sounds around you. Maybe the air temperature, your body on whatever you're sitting or lying on. The light quality. Gradually bringing yourself back into connection with your surroundings when it feels comfortable, opening your eyes gently if you've had them closed. And coming back into presence, with your surroundings. And you might now want to take a couple of minutes just to journal. To write a few sentences about what you noticed in your exploration, or you could record a short voice memo. And this can be useful as you increase your practice over time to come back to. Notice your journey, notice what's changed and notice your previous experiences. - So in this final main practice, we're going to add another layer onto the full practice that we already have. And this is, if you like, a stepping stone that you can use to start to bring some of the elements of this practice to interaction with another person or with another live body. But we're going to do this practice with your own body as a starting point so you don't need anybody else for it at this point. So inviting you to get set up for your practice, so having somewhere well supported to sit and be able to relax. Having your cushion for your lap and having an object that you can spend some time exploring. So bringing your focus of awareness to begin with to this object and starting to notice how it feels. So you might want to close your eyes if that feels comfortable and beginning to notice sensation in your hands as they start exploring this object. Noticing the qualities that this object has. The textures of it. The shapes and dimensions of it. How heavy it is or how light it is. If you notice distractions creeping in, you can bring the focus of awareness back to the sensation that you experience in your hands. And remembering there's no right or wrong way with any of this, but just noticing what you notice in this moment here right now. How does this object feel? And bringing your curiosity to this object. Being curious about what you find as you explore it. Noticing what feels expected, what feels surprising. I'm inviting you to slow the speed of your touch right down and giving your hands the best chance to take in as much data as possible, as much sensation as possible. And see what you notice as you slow your speed of touch right down. You may even explore moments of almost stillness where your touch is barely moving. Being curious about the sensations you notice. Starting to get curious about your impulses, so how you want to touch this objects. Noticing how much you trust those impulses. What happens if you follow them? And as you explore this object, you might be starting to notice there are parts of the object or parts of your hand where the experience of touch feels a little bit more enjoyable. So inviting you to start to follow what feels enjoyable. If you find a sensation where you notice a part of your body or a part of the object which feels good, pleasurable, enjoyable. Seeing if you can follow it, stay with that part that feels enjoyable. And hang out with it for awhile. Notice what happens, notice how it feels. Noticing how you want to touch this object. How much are you able to follow and value those impulses for how you want to touch this object for your own enjoyment, nobody else's. Noticing how you feel as you follow the pleasure in this object in your hands and the sensation. Keeping your hands well supported. Keeping your body well supported. This is a chance to play and explore however your body has an impulse to in this moment. What do you want? Taking in all the air that you need to. And then I invite you to put the object to one side so that you can still reach it. Maybe to one side of the cushion or on the seat next to you. And then to use one hand to start to explore the other hand and inviting you to start by feeling for the structures of this hand in the same way that you did with the object. So noticing the shapes, the structure of bones. Noticing the textures of the skin or the hard bits, the soft bits. So just as you did with the object, bringing your focus of attention to how this hand feels as you explore it with the other hand. What do you notice in your exploring hand about sensations, the shapes, the textures? Maybe even the weight of this hand that's being explored. The temperature of it. Notice how it feels in the hand that's doing the touching. Seeing if you can bring your focus of awareness as much as possible to that hand, to the hand that's doing the touching. And bringing your attention to the sensations that you notice in that hand. Noticing as you explore with that hand how it wants to touch for its own curiosity, for its own enjoyment. It's been given access to this other hand, how does it want to feel it? Slowing the speed of your touch right down. You may even want to try halving the speed of your touch. And then I invite you to transfer your touch back to the object again. So spend some time feeling the objects again, noticing the sensations of it. Maybe noticing how it feels different from the hand. Noticing what feels enjoyable about it. Noticing your impulses for how you want to touch it for your own pleasure, for your own enjoyment. Noticing what feels good about it. Keeping your hands as supported and relaxed as they can be. Taking in all the air that you need. And then I invite you to spend a little time moving your touch back and forth between the object and your hand. So spending some time putting the object aside again, transferring your touch to your other hand. Exploring it in a similar way. How does it feel for you're exploring hand to be given access to a live body part rather than an inanimate object? What difference does that make if any to your exploration? What difference does it make to what you notice about what feels enjoyable to the hand that's doing the touch? And you might notice how it feels for your other hand to be touched and how easy is it for you to stay with the experience of touching to feel rather than touching to give a feeling? In your own time, switching back and forth between the object and your hand. Exploring what feels good about touching each of those two things. Exploring your impulses, so how you want to touch the object and how you want to touch the hand that's available to be touched. Taking a couple of more minutes, moving back and forth in your own time. Noticing what you notice. How does it feel to touch this hand? What feels enjoyable about having access to touch this hand the way you want to touch it? What feels enjoyable about having access to this object? To touch it in a way that you want to, in a way that feels enjoyable for you in this moment? And then inviting you to bring your touch to a still point. And if you're touching the objects, putting it to one side. Bringing your practice to a close and spending a moment allowing your experiences with the object and your hand to integrate in your body without needing to do anything. - [Michael] We tend to think of giving and receiving in binary terms where giving means you're doing something and receiving means something's happening to you or being done to you. If I'm doing the massage, I'm giving it, or if it's being done to me, I'm receiving it. But that's not the whole story, as you'll know if you've ever picked an apple off someone's tree. The Wheel of Consent helps us expand how we look at giving and receiving into four distinct experiences. Here's how it works. Most circles have two hearts. But this one's a bit different, it's got four. There's the receiving half. This is where I received something I want. It's for me. And the giving half, this is where I put aside what I want. And I'm willing to give something to someone else. It's for them. But there's also the doing half, where I'm the one who's taking action. And the done two half where somebody else is taking action. These halves can combine in four different ways to give four different experiences. The doing and the giving halves combined to create the serve quadrant. This is where I'm doing something, but it's for someone else's benefit like giving the massage I mentioned earlier. The receiving and the done two halves combined to create the accept quadrant. This is where someone else is doing something that I want. This time I'm receiving the massage. And here's where it gets interesting. The done to and the giving halves combined to create the allow quadrant. This is where I'm allowing someone else to do something they want, they're taking action and I'm putting what I want aside temporarily for their benefit. If you ask to pick an apple from my tree, I might allow you to do that. Finally, the doing and the receiving halves combined to create the take quadrant. This is where I take action for my own benefit, respecting the limits of the other person of course. If you said yes to my request, I'd come and pick the apple from your tree. Overlapping the halves is a really simple way to figure out who's giving or receiving in any interaction. All you need to do is ask yourself these two questions, who is doing or taking action? And who is it for? If I'm taking action and it's for them, I'm serving, which means I'm giving. If I'm taking action and it's for me, I'm taking, which means I'm receiving. If they're taking action and it's for me, I'm accepting, which means I'm receiving. If they're taking action and it's for them, I'm allowing, which means I'm giving. There's lots more to the Wheel of Consent. So, head over to my website to discover it. - Often when we notice that we want something, we state it as a fact and expect someone to do something about it. But although making a statement like this is a good first step in communicating what your needs are, it's really just that, a one-sided statement. It's great to know that you want something, but just because you have a want, doesn't mean you're going to get what you want. In order to stand any chance of getting your need met, you have to present it in a way that allows an agreement to be created with another person. There are three ways this can happen. You could make a request. This means asking directly for what you want. If you want a hug, either of these two requests would open the door to the possibility of experiencing one. Another way is to make an offer. This is presenting something that you're willing to give to someone else. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Alternatively, you could make an invitation. This is when you want something and you want to find out if the other person wants it too. Both of you get a chance to put forward what you want. This could be quite open ended or it could be more specific. Now it's possible for the other person to add their needs. So, unlike a statement where there's no question and therefore no agreement, when you make a request, an offer, or an invitation, it means that someone else can respond to what you're putting out there in whatever way feels right for them. It's also important to be clear with the language that you choose. Pay attention to how you're asking for what you want. Avoid words like "I think" or "is it okay if." And avoid things like "maybe you could." Instead, use more direct phrases like "may I?" "Will you?" Or "I'd like to." This helps set up your intention and makes it clear what you're requesting, offering, or inviting. So when you want something, making a request, an offer, or an invitation and using clear language is the best way to reach an agreement, which is really another way of describing consent. So whether what you want is a hug or a trip to the cinema, you'll actually be helping the other person to help you.