Deepest learnings from a 30 day no touch practice
I’m a totally people’s person. I love to hug, chat and just be in the company of anyone who is up for a chat. Growing up in a big family you kinda got used to all the noise and people around. This has it’s ups and downs as you might imagine. I could always share my conversations, feel that I had this strong support and network of people around me constantly. On the flip side I never got the opportunity to work out what I wanted, how I really felt about things and situations. And so I took the plunge and went to a remote location to sit with myself for 10 days.
I was surrounded by the most beautiful Australian wildlife; snakes (red belly), birds, black cockatoos, ants, iguanas, cats and also bush turkeys, amazing trees, hills, rocks and little swimming areas. There was no WiFi access, no reading books, no talking to others, not even making any noise between certain hours of the day. Meals were delivered to you by the retreat hosts, one meal with only veggies and rice. Sometimes we got lucky and had soup. Bland food, in isolation, in the bush with only a tent as your shelter.
My tent was located in the centre of the retreat area, I could hear people walking around the compound during the day, but no talking. Passing each other like strangers. The tent was also surrounded by trees, which kept it cool during very hot days and we had a lot of hot days.
The idea of this basic use of food was to sit with ourselves and to meditate deeply, connecting with our spirit, perhaps the natural spirit, therefore avoiding salt, sugar, garlic, ginger and onions and any kind of oil or processed food. About day 3 I started to listen to what was coming up for me. As a yoga student and teacher, I used several techniques to get into my meditation such as posture, breathing and focus. I had some profound insights about how powerful we are in shifting our own perspective during these sittings.
Soon the 10 days came to an end. It felt like euphoria and nerve racking all at the same time… we had to come back to what we left behind! Then it was time for integration, a 30 day no touch and a strict diet practice.
This practice is quite unusual but essential because I became lucid during the 10 day retreat where my senses were heightened. Therefore, containing your energy was integral. A 30 day no touch practice helps to contain your energy and to sit with what comes up as we integrate back to our lives. Here is where great change and life shifting decisions come to the surface. The 30 day no touch practice ended on April 21st. This is what the practice taught me:
Firstly the intervention of others. No touch meant no touching, hugging, nudging and so on. I didn’t have a problem with it, but others did. Some of my family members were supportive and some were not. People in general were surprised as they’ve never heard of this practice and others were intrigued. During the 30 days, some people felt the need to touch, perhaps to seek validation that they were seen or heard in some way. Others felt insulted, as if to say your touch will create some energy deflect in my own personal being. I had lectures from some family members, and others who felt it was the most isolating practice one could do. Some projected their opinions about my demeanour, how I looked sad and removed from what was happening in any given moment.
We are such dynamic and creative beings, but when we are practicing for a spiritual purpose, we are reminded of our own habitual behaviours. The habit of seeing an old friend we want to hold them so tight, or meeting new people who gesture to shake your hand as a formality of acknowledgement, was eye opening. It really bought how important it is for others to touch you, as if speech was not enough. Was it because a lack of vocabulary or was it that they wanted to feel needed.
The second quality was mindfulness. Noticing how others moved around you, whether it was in a practice room, in a cafe or any public place. A nudge here or a tap there. Mindfulness can only be understood if we embrace this practice. And I certainly changed my perspective on how I approached a room full of people, how I navigated to get to my destination without being an victim to others terrain of movement. There were some that would approach me and before they could come close I would retreat, almost like a knee jerk reaction. This expression alone, offended others, taking it personally that I some how rejected them at a cellular level. During my introspection, I found it interesting how others were so comfortable about invading others personal space without considering what others are going through at that time. How did we get so barbaric with our social behaviours, even if it’s something like a hug or a nudge?
The third quality is about embracing sacredness for oneself. Honouring your space is sacred. This space can be emotional, physical and mental… all of it is sacred. Choosing where to be during these 30 days became a tough decision. Thinking about the traffic of people, and for the first time I had to think about my own space. I spent most of my evenings alone, meditating, reading connecting back to my breath and journaling. Diving deep to what we are as we are is the most powerful and dangerous thing we can do, as it will change your whole life perspective. I don’t feel the same. I’m not in fear of the dark or being alone. The sacred space took priority, we only have this life to be the best we are in what life throws at us, so why not honour the time to get to the depths of understanding who we truly are. What I want in my life, instead of following old patterns that I think serve me, when I still don’t feel satisfied or happy were the questions that gave space for personal transition.
The final quality is growth. Yes I feel a little wiser and a little older, but most importantly I feel strong in my body, in my psyche and in my emotions. A little softer and a lot more focused, perhaps driven to achieve what is right for me. All of this came because of the shedding and commitment to sit with myself, to see who I was instead of labelling myself as someone that is just blindly following a path, that perhaps has become stagnant. Growth, as we all know post saturn return, comes from experience, not any old experience. Its from a place if you are willing to put yourself in the most vulnerable position and to surrender what comes up, only then can we start to understand our power.
Since writing this blog, i’ve spent most of my days catching up on hugs with my family and some of my friends. I think twice about touching another being and become more clear in my communication style, more eye contact and using my whole body to listen. Also, one of the most bravest and difficult decisions I made was to quit my teaching position at a yoga school in Sydney, where I’ve been associated with for over 7 years. I feel strong and clear about this decision and know that already this choice has given me new opportunities to flow through. I will definitely miss the students and the space. The other most bravest life changing attitude I’ve adopted is to be completely honest with my needs and I am making small steps to align my life in this very direction.