Spooning to Nirvana

I recently came across an interesting and thought-provoking article online.  The article reported on findings of a strong correlation between a couple’s overall level of happiness, and their preference for sleeping very close together.

Of course, there are perfectly contented couples who need to have “personal space” in order to sleep comfortably.  Personally, though, I was not surprised to read about these findings.  My wife and I sleep in various creatively-intertwined poses— a state that we call contentedly “inter-twingled”.  We may settle into our own individual side-by-side spaces, after a while; but we almost always start off lovingly in each other’s arms (and legs).

In that intimate space, we take the time to unwind, and to share the day’s highlights with one another.  For us, this is the most “real” and valued time of each day.  (My wife Penny is convinced that we should start a “cuddle institute”— indeed, we have recently read about at least a few entrepreneurial ladies who are apparently doing very well by offering (non-sexual) cuddle-time to their clients.  Again not too surprising, since we live in such a hands-off, touch-starved society…

There  is something primal and elemental about being in close proximity to someone you love.  It goes far beyond that sexual, and deep into the territory of the intimate.  As I noted in an earlier post, we humans are neurologically “wired” for touch, as are our primate cousins.  Warm and accepting touch conveys caring, acceptance and safety, in a way that no words can remotely approach.

Sleeping in close proximity is especially satisfying for couples who sleep naked. The electric frisson of skin-on-skin absolutely conveys a flow of energy between partners.  Such intimate connection allows each partner to both give and receive marvelous sensations, through gentle brushes of hands or limbs, or the whisper of warm breath, or the reassuring murmur of a loved one’s peaceful heartbeat.  Skin-on-skin contact is the foundation of sensual touch (and a possible though not necessary gateway to sexual sparks).

In our culture (as in many others), people walk around surrounded by an inviolable “bubble” of personal space.  That perhaps gives one a sense of control and safety— I’m not sure I understand the underlying psychology, though I too value having some space, and I get uncomfortable in jam-packed conditions.  Still, with those who are important to me, I welcome physical contact.  That can range from a casual brush of a hand, through warm and open eye-contact, and on into the myriad forms that sensual, sexual intimate touch takes.  I find all such touch to be deeply satisfying and validating, and I know that my partners equally value it.

Sleeping in cozy conjunction has a lot to offer.  Give it a try, if it isn’t part of your usual routine.  It can work wonders to reinforce links of caring, as one of the many ways in which caring partners can reach out to one another.  Sleep tight!


The Healing Power of Touch

I had an especially rough day today— one of those days when you rue having crawled out of a nice warm bed, and into the icy clutches of this sometimes-hard world.  As I lick my wounds at home, nursed by a purring cat and a steaming mug of coffee, I find myself reflecting on the curative powers of touch: sex, yes— but also sensual pleasures, and the warmth of an intimate embrace.

There is something deep in the human psyche that absolutely requires touch.  It’s physical, as well as psychological, as is evidenced by the developmental damage done to under-attended young primates, as well as the “failure to thrive” syndrome suffered by some infants during the last century.  The need for touch cannot be ignored.

As someone who holds a holistic view of sex, I believe that satisfying touch is available through many expressions other than intercourse— wonderful as that can be.  A gentle, caring brush across your partner’s cheek, a tender and attentive massage to relieve cramped and aching shoulders, a kiss that conveys healing acceptance and caring— these are all examples of the breadth of curative touch.

In our American society, touch is often positioned and used as a means to an end: as a prelude to “real” sex (i.e. intercourse), or as a way to disarm someone and win favor.  Too often, we’re led to believe that caring touch is just a ticket to the “main event” of sex.  I think that perspective is especially prevalent among men.  Such a belief can keep us from some of the most enjoyable aspects of connecting with a partner (or with ourselves).

It’s good to take a deep breath, smell the perfume of Spring blossoms on the air, look around and truly register all the beauty that surrounds us— and just be grateful to be alive.  That can make us more appreciative of the special people in our life, and it can make us much more appealing to them.  Once that connection is made, touch each other to show your appreciation and love.  It’s great to be connected!