WHY YOUR BODY IS CRAVING THE HEALING POWER OF TOUCH

In a world where we’re starved of genuine connection, Kumi Sawyers is a passionate advocate for the healing power of touch … Intro by Ruby Warrington.

A few months back, I had a “High Times Massage” with Kumi Sawyers, an NYC body-worker and yogini who’s work I’d be following for a while. Kumi uses a CBD massage oil in her sessions, and it’s fair to say I was feeling literally zero pain (or even all the edges of my being) when I floated off her table. But it wasn’t just the cannabinoids.

Kumi is a natural born healer; there is magic in her hands. And she believe the missing piece in many a wellness journey, is that we all need to be touched. When we sat down for her to tell me more about this, here’s what she had to say:

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“A client will come to me and say, ‘I have this pain that doesn’t go away. I’m doing yoga and I’m seeing this physical therapist. I have my acupuncturist, I have my healer. I eat this and I eat that, and I’m doing all these things, but I’m still in so much pain.’ And it’s because there is blocked energy in their body.

All healing modalities talk about it, just with different names. Kundalini, Shakti, whatever you want to call it, it’s this energy that gets trapped. And it doesn’t matter what you eat. It doesn’t matter whether or not you talk about it with your therapist. You have to move the energy around. You have to recognize it, you have to feel it, and you have to associate with it as part of your body. It has to become alive, it has to join you. As soon as we connect to this, is when things begin to transform. To become beautiful, and vibrant, and alive, and abundant.

And the touch of another human hand is often the catalyst for this.

Touch is extremely powerful. There are even studies that show how what’s called ‘touch deprivation’ stops babies from growing and developing properly. I know that when I feel anxious, in order for me to calm down I need someone to hold me. Just hold me for a second. And yet we live in a world where people are afraid of touch. Where loving touch it is reserved for romantic partners; and in other situations, it can create a closeness we do not feel comfortable with.

People are choosing to rely on this false sense of connection instead. We think that because we’re friends on Instagram, it means that I care for you. But it doesn’t mean anything. It is a beautiful thing to feel connected to all these people, but the reality is we’re not. At the end of the day, we can go home and still feel very alone.

It should actually be: ‘I care for you because I show up for you. And when I see you I put my hand on you, and I listen to you, and I support you, no matter what.’ This is the currency, this is the energy exchange, that’s really healing and important in our development as human beings. Physical affection isn’t only sexual. Touch is another way of feeling. Of going beyond the superficial, and dropping down into the deep layers. Yet so many people are afraid to feel, and much of my work is to guide people comfortably into the depths.

Often people show up to my table very armored, guarded. The reason they can’t feel what’s going on in their bodies is because they don’t want to. To then come to me and to lie naked on my table and let me touch them, that is real vulnerability, real trust. And not everyone is ready for it, right away.

So I have to work with the nervous system. I have to prepare the body. I have to let them trust me, which means using really firm, but soft and consistent contact. To allow my touch to say to them, ‘I am here.’ And then slowly the body softens. And then people will let me in, and I can do the deeper work.

If I try to force my way, the body will just lock up. And then they’ll feel sore and agitated, and it’s a bad experience for everyone. The way you work with the body is the way you work with people. It’s the way that you work with your personal relationships. You can’t ever force somebody to be in a place where they’re not ready. There is a way of just being with people where they are, and guiding them through whatever experience they’re having.

When I go into somebody’s body and they’re like, ‘it’s too much, it’s too much,’ I tell them that I understand. And I ask them to breathe with me. I tell them that the only way to move this out of their body is to move through it, and that as soon as we get through this, there will be an opening. To trust me.

And that’s life. I can’t think of one thing I’ve done in my life that’s been meaningful that didn’t mean going through some really intense initiations. Beginning with the birth canal. That’s the work, and you can take this work and you can apply it to anything. You can apply it to body work, and to relationships, to careers, to politics.

People will try to bypass it. Like, ‘actually let’s skip around that. I’m going to just turn right.’ And you can keep turning right, and you’re going to arrive at a place where you look at your life, and you are not fulfilled. Where you’re suffering physically because you’re holding all that energy inside your body. Where your body can no longer move. Where you’re retaining water, your joints are not fluid, your skin is most likely doing some weird shit. Where your relationships are empty. And it’s sad. I see so many people make these decisions, and all because they weren’t ready to do the deep, uncomfortable work.

Ultimately, everybody wants to feel love, to feel happiness. They just don’t want to feel the discomfort. But anybody who thinks they can live without turbulence, that’s just not how it goes. You actually want the bumps, because it shows you’re feeling more. To really feel deeply about something is a gift. You want the turbulence, because the scarier it gets, the closer you know you’re moving towards something really beautiful.”

Discover more about Kumi Sawyers and her work at Kumarawellness.com and follow her on Instagram @shadylawn.

HOLY F*CK: 5 WAYS TO JUMPSTART YOUR LOVE AND SEX LIFE IN 2017

In her final Holy F*ck column of 2016, Alexandra Roxo has 5 ways to jumpstart your love and sex life in 2017…Portrait: Alexandra Herstik

2016 has been a wild year for the planet and for America. For me it’s been a year of change and growth and reshuffling and purging and mourning and planting seeds and learning. I also hadn’t been single in 10 years, and have spent this one being VERY single. I’ve used this time to have a giant rethink of ALL my ideas, values, and beliefs about love and sex.

I’ve done some dating, sure, but I put the brakes on things in the name of some deep diving and learning and observing of myself and my clients, which is hard for a Piscean princess who loves to dive into romance. My birthday is just days from Anais Nin (if that means anything to you you’re prob my tribe!).

Last week, in search of my culminating thoughts about love and sex and spirit for the end of this year, I called my friend Gala Darling, whose latest love story is one of my faves! After a divorce, Gala met her adorable boyfriend online a little over a year ago and I’d been swooning over them via Insta for a while. I wanted to hear the dirt…Did she believe in soul mates? Manifesting the man of your dreams with spells and rituals? Making a list of important things in love and meditating on them? I had a lot of questions for her.

Gala said many things but what stuck out the most was: “Relationships are not meant to be easy. Marriage is not easy. They are not meant to be comfortable. They are meant to push you to see things about yourself that are not actualized. Having a soul mate is not a party!” This sentiment is way too overlooked in the twin flame/soul mate discourse. Where’s the footer that says “Hey BTW this shit hurts”?

Gala Darling and her boyfriend Garnett shot by Juliane Berry

She also reminded me that there is no certainty. Like ever. In marriage. In relationships. In any of it. People who are single think “Oh when will I meet that special someone?” And then people who are in partnership may be asking “Is this right? Is it supposed to hurt this much? Be this hard? Do I still love them?” There is no certainty but our devotion to ourselves, and our practice of keeping aligned with our heart’s needs.

So in order to do just that I’ve prepared some writing exercises for this column, to help you too rethink/ rewrite / jumpstart your love and sex life in 2017…

So get out your journal. Put on a kimono. Or silk PJ’s. Select some quiet tunes. Burn some incense.  Make yourself a cozy nest. I rec bed surrounded by blankets and pillows and some rose tea and a few candles.

  1. RETHINK YOUR “LIST”

We all make these grand lists of what we want in a partnership and we often forget that the human we imagine coming into our life will also be flawed. Just like us! Do you have some list you’ve been working on for years? Fantasies in your mind about how your partner should or shouldn’t be? This can change as you grow so def revisit every six months. So use this time to make a list of HARD YES’s and HARD NO’s, and to really meditate on them.

Ask yourself big questions like: “Could you be with someone who doesn’t believe in God? Or do you absolutely need to be with someone who wants kids?”

 

  1. BROADEN YOUR IDEA OF A SOUL MATE

Do you have people in your life you have let see the whole spectrum of your madness and beauty? Your most ugly side and your most beautiful? I believe all the people who can hold all of us and push us to our edges are our soul mates. If you’ve never let your darkness come out with anyone I say deepen a friendship with someone who you can do that with. Not in an abusive way, but in a way where the connection can go deep under the surface. That will get you ready for partnership, and if you’re partnered it will keep you deep diving into yourself.

My friend Rebecca and I really did NOT like each other when we met. I thought she was a dirty hippie and she thought I was a stuck up goodie two shoes. 15 years later we are best friends. During that time we’ve hated each other. Not spoken for a year. Had the most heinous of fights.  But had the most enlightening and fun and hilarious moments together too. She knows me in a way no one else can. Our love is as deep as the ocean.

Ask yourself: “Who are my soul mates now? Who has pushed me to the edges and helped me grow? What can I learn from these relationships about myself?”

 

  1. COMMIT TO A PRACTICE AND STICK WITH IT

If you haven’t dated in a while, will you commit to a dating practice? Perhaps you and a friend can buddy up, open an online account, make a ritual of creating your profile (which Gala says is “like casting a spell!”) Practice connecting with strangers in a non-attached way. Go on coffee dates with no agenda except chatting with a stranger. Maybe 1 out of 10 will be someone you’re actually attracted to, so keep it chill. No expectations. Treat it like a morning yoga practice!

If you’re in a relationship commit to a growth practice. Is it seeing a relationship coach once a month to make sure you are growing? Does your sex life need a reboot? Can you commit to an afternoon every other week of sexual exploration time to keep expanding there? If your relationship has become too dependent can you commit to developing and nurturing solo space?

Decide what practice you want to commit to in 2017 and break it down over the months and weeks.

 

  1. GET TO KNOW YOUR LOVE STYLES

How do you like to be loved? (If you need some inspo you can do the 5 Languages of Love quiz.) I know I mostly need to be loved with touch and kind words, and if I feel I can communicate that to my next partner they don’t waste their time buying me gifts or giving me rides or cooking for me. I told Loulou (one of my besties) about this, and now we know that we both highly value a solid compliment we pay each other loving compliments regularly! It just takes knowing and asking.

Make a list of ways you like to be loved, either within a partnership or solo. Do you need more touch? Schedule a weekly massage or trade with a friend. 

 

  1. LOOK IN THE MIRROR

Don’t make me quote Michael but um…he had a point! If you were a potential partner meeting yourself for the first time what would you think? What would you want more of? Less of? This is good to look at whether you’re single or attached. Would you prefer someone who is more available? Someone who is more financially stable? Someone in better shape? Someone who meditates daily? Well, this is a great way to see where you need to make changes on yourself.

For example, I was thinking I would just love a partner who can chop wood—so fuck it, I guess I’ll learn to chop wood in 2017 too! You can also be the partner you want to your friends. I mean, don’t make out with them passionately or anything (unless that’s how you roll!) but love your friends like you wanna be loved. Cook for them. Write cute notes. Romance your friends and yourself!

Set some goals for how you can become the best partner and self and friend.

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If you want to go deeper with this work sign up for my Holy F*ck course where we will be using creative writing and storytelling to dive deep into our habits, tendencies, hopes and dreams in love and sex in a conscious way.  I also see clients one on one for six month periods of mentorship and on off coaching sessions. More info here.

Alexandra Roxo is a critically acclaimed filmmaker, writer, entrepreneur and mentor currently residing in LA. She recently co-founded Moon Club with Ruby Warrington (founder of the Numinous) and has been featured in Well + GoodNylon,  Out Magazine and more.