Rituals for Reawakening Touch
ESSAY BY KATE WEINER
PHOTO OF RACHEL BARE FOR LOAM LOVE BY JESS DRAWHORN
Earlier this week, I found myself flooded with an epic and existential loneliness rooted in raging PMS and eco anxiety. It had been a long time since I had felt so trapped in my sadness and I struggled with how to alchemize my grief, discomfort, and fear into some feeling sweet enough to fall asleep with. Wrestling with what to do, I sought sanctuary in the comfort of screens. I scoured a blog on wellness, searched for secondhand clogs, watched a telenovela. And 3 hours later, when I closed my laptop and sank into bed, my heart was just as empty. Living in the the virtual hadn’t alleviated my ache. It only made me feel far less whole and human.
Although I have always been passionate about carving out the space for embodiment each day, the 2016 election sent me into a tailspin. I found that for several months after I couldn’t fall asleep without a TV show playing. I threw myself into work, checking my e-mails first thing in the morning and fielding calls from my co-workers late into the night. In spite of the fact that I was absurdly lucky to be able to bookend each day with nourishing meals and heart-filled meanders through the foothills near my home, the intervening hours were riddled with anxiety. The obligation to be “online” didn’t make me feel at home in my beautiful body. Even as I nurtured new opportunities for creativity, connection, and collaboration through outdoor adventures, permaculture programs, workshops, and gatherings with friends, I struggled to maintain digital boundaries. I was afraid of failing at my remote job, afraid of not knowing what was going on, afraid of not meeting the expectations of my growing Loam community.
Since reading several transformative texts on mindful living earlier this year, my relationship to screens has significantly shifted. I strive to pay attention to those emotions—anxiety, scarcity, a hunger to connect—that fuel my relationship to the digital and have worked hard to create a container for screen time that gives me space to live the rich, sensuous, grounded life I want to live. But even though I am in a pretty good place, I still unravel. I’m not immune from wanting to retreat into the safety of digital distractions when faced with the “feels.”
And so as I curled up in bed that dark Sunday—feeling blue and bereft and ashamed at my screen time—I reflected on what I could do to bring myself back into balance. Letting go of my guilt was a big one as was reminding myself that I always get a “do over.” Even though it was 11 at night and freaking freezing in my apartment, I unraveled myself from my mess of blankets and took a hot shower. I rinsed my hair with a homemade nettle infusion that always makes me feel like an herbal witchy goddess and massaged sesame oil into my skin. I chose to be in conversation with my loneliness, to be sweet to myself even when my PMS was making me feel like a monster and my eco anxiety was sending my tender heart into destabilizing terrain. And it was these simple rituals—running my hands through my hair, kneading warm oil the length of my legs—that returned me to equilibrium.
We are not made for scrolling through screens. We are made for sinking our feet into the soil and savoring succulent permissions and watching sunsets paint our city landscapes gold-red. And even though the digital isn’t all bad—Loam wouldn’t be everything it could be if our community didn’t have this online space to co-create!—it can disconnect us from our elemental, essential selves. When I’ve spent too much time working on my laptop, I don’t feel human. And for our world to be healed, we need to feel human. We need to feel vital, vibrant, passionate, regenerative, grieving, groovy, hopeful, cherished, angry, anxious, dreamy. We need to feel beloved and loving. We need to feel grounded in the tangible moments and movements that make up a life.
It’s in that spirit that I want to invite each one of us to cultivate rituals for reawakening touch in our lives that we can turn to whenever we are feeling discombobulated by the digital. Being embodied in our relationships to the earth and to each other truly is a balm for the soul.
Sink your teeth into a ripe permission. Trace the spine of a tree. Knead dough for homemade bread. Massage your body with nourishing oils. Hold the hand of someone beloved to you. Braid your friend’s hair. Read a heavy book curled up on a cozy couch. Put a palm to your cheek. Nestle next to your favorite four-legged creature. Chop root vegetables for a mineral-rich stew. Cradle a warm mug of tea in your hands. Hug a cherished source of support in your life. Dance barefoot in the living room of your apartment. Brush dust from the leaves of your plant babies. Catch snowflakes on your tongue. Make a scrapbook page from salvaged papers to gift your mama. Dig your feet firmly into the earth.
Whatever it is that makes you feel human, that makes you feel held, nurture the space for that practice to bloom in your life. And share what rituals for reawakening touch ground you in the comments. Together, we can build a community compendium for disconnecting from the digital and reconnecting to ourselves, our Earth, and each other.