The Art of Slow, Deep Touch
This month I want to talk about one of the most important components to developing a relaxing massage style and, in my opinion, an absolutely critical component of any intimate or sensual touch; the art of working very slowly. My hope is that this article will encourage you to cultivate the ability to work very slowly. My belief is that this will not only help you give a fantastic massage but it will help you develop more intimate and meaningful relationships, not only with your significant other, but with other people as well….
For many of us, especially (or at least stereotypically) for the guys, this will be very uncomfortable at first. It just goes against our nature. We feel like if we are going really slowly (what has been described by some as painfully slow) we are not doing anything productive or fancy. But that is so wrong, in fact is just the opposite. By developing a slow touch we are truly doing something profound, productive and even very ‘fancy”.
So what do I mean by Slow Touch?
Slow touch is intimate and purposeful; it is the beginning of the blurring of the lines between simple physical contact and relational touch. It is important to understand that intimate touch does not automatically mean sensual or sexual touch. There are several different types of intimate touch, many of which are neither sensual nor sexual. At the same time most people, especially those in a long term committed relationship, are going to find sensual or sexual contact devoid of intimacy to be very unfulfilling. I am going to expand on this in another article, for now just go with me on this.
As an example, in my personal massage practice I intentionally use slow, purposeful touch to relax my clients, to let them know that I value them and that I am interested in their emotional health as well as their physical health. This is a form of intimate touch that is neither sensual nor sexual. Even on my specifically therapeutic clients, I like to end the harshest of treatments with a nice reaffirming touch. Even my very alpha male MMA/UFC clients appreciate this and do not feel uncomfortable. I believe this is because I am very focused and sincere with my intentions, just as you should be when you are working on your partner, a family member or friend.
Slow touch is not in a hurry to get anywhere. It is not concerned with the next stroke or touch, or even the return stroke for that matter. It is concerned with now, and what you are feeling and sensing with your hands and your intuition in this moment. So maybe you don’t finish the massage the way you planned, instead you give them the touch that they need in the way that they want.
Slow, sustained, focused and purposeful touch is a form of self expression as much as it is an expression of how much you value and care for someone. It is a sensing touch; because when you are sincerely interested in the person you are touching, you always want to know more about them (physically, cognitively and emotionally). So make sure that part of your intention is to be able to adapt and adjust your touch based on your partner’s wants and needs.
Slow, sustained, focused and purposeful touch is mysterious and profound. This is where it gets really interesting for some and downright scary for others. I know quite a few people who approach this subject as if they have the answers and that all of this is easily quantifiable. I tend to approach it with the attitude that I don’t even know if I am asking the right questions, but I want to try. What I do know is that touch can be extremely powerful, healing and evocative. It can also be awkward, misunderstood and invasive.
That is why it is so important to cultivate your sense of touch and slow down, way down. It is also important to communicate with your partner. Talk, question, listen, and understand.
The stronger my feelings for the person I am touching are, and the more I am willing to experience and be experienced by this person – the more powerful (overwhelming, satisfying) the touch can be. For intimate couples this can be an incredibly rewarding component to both your relaxation massage of each other and your intimate touch as well. Touch can be wonderfully simple and it can also be delightfully complex.
So schedule some time, get your partner relaxed and try some slow, deep touch. Try going slower, and slower while also going deeper and softer. Slow down, increase the pressure over the broad surface of your hands and soften your touch. Focus on the person you are touching, who they are, what they have been through and where they are at right now. Understand your intention and enjoy the moment.
Here is an exercise that will help you develop your slow touch skills. I will add some more in the future and welcome your suggestions as well.
With your partner on their stomach (hopefully on a table) place your hands softly, but still deeply, on their shoulders (just outside the spine), rest them there while you take a deep breath and focus on your intention…
My Intention: To relax my partner, to honor and cherish my partner, to experience my partner through touch, to make my partner forget about everything outside of this moment, to empathize with my partner, to understand my partner….
Then I want you to close your eyes and lean into your partner with your body weight and ever so slowly shift your body weight forward causing your hands to move slowly down their back while you focus on feeling everything that you can. Their muscle tone, their bones, their breaths, the heat of their skin.
Keep your arms straight and your shoulders relaxed. Spread your fingers as wide as possible and make sure your whole hand is making contact with your partner’s back. Try taking an entire minute to travel down your partner’s back (and then two minutes and then, for the highly evolved and very brave, take three whole minutes to go from the shoulders to the sacrum).
All my best,
This article is written expressly for individuals and couples who have attended a Power of Touch Couple’s Massage Workshop and merely represents the opinions of its author on the subject(s) and his hopes that it will add value to the lives of its readers…
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Joe Lavin, LMT, CPT CEIM, AOBT
Certified Phenomenal Touch Practitioner®
Certified Ashiatsu DeepFeet Bar Therapy Practitioner®
Certified Myofascial Cupping & IASTM Practitioner
Cell: (206) 817-5896