“There is a river beneath the skin…The Earth is our Mother; we are born from her waters. It is her fluid medium by which all life ebbs and flows.”
- C Scott Ryan*
Touch has a memory. It is one of the earliest sensations that we experience. Even in the mother’s womb are felt the vibrations, the sounds of the mother as she moves through her daily life.
It is said that water too, has memory.
“The story of water encompasses not only the physical cycles of circulation in and around the Earth, in trees and in other organisms, and its role in creating climates and fertility, but also the part it plays in communication. Its role in transmuting energy and information to life is at the very heart of life and water’s memory.”
- Alick Bartholomew*1
Water and Touch
The emergence (from the Latin, emergere – to come forth, or ‘bring into light’) of selfcare has been evolving for as long as I have been in skincare, over thirty-five years, and of course way before that.
As an aesthetician, my practice of skincare was centered on the participation in the care of my client’s skin, and their emotions, too. The organ of the skin is the body’s external nervous system. While conversation was essential to our relationship, it was touch that stood at the ‘deep heart’s core’ of skincare. Facials, without question, involve touch, we are actually feeling the fluidity of the ‘river’ of waters beneath the skin. Extracellular fluids as well as interstitial fluid, lymph, cerebrospinal fluid, plasma and milk (in mammals). Extracellular fluids bathe the cells and conduct nutrients, cells, and waste products throughout the tissues of the body. Water and Touch
I don’t know if there was ever a time in recent history where the gift of a warm hug, a gentle touch, or simple hand holding was ever denied us. But today as we still linger within the unwanted grip of a global pandemic, touch is likely the sense missed most of all.
It is in the time of COVID. I live alone. I wear the standard PPE when I go into the public. I rely (sometimes desperately) on conversations with my friends and family. I wave at my neighbors from across the street, from a car window, or by leaning out the back door, hands cupped to ears to hear from yards away.
In the last few months of my mother’s life, the sense of touch was not yet something I thought of in terms of its absence. It was something I would give her simply out of her skin’s need. It included manicures and pedicures because she couldn’t travel. At the age of 97 her hearing was gone; her once glowing skin was now dry and tissue thin. Her eyes, once twinkling, were now clouded over. She was turning into spirit.
I lived close by so almost every day I would visit and give her a hearty misting of HydroSoul, a massage of a fragrant Oil Serum, and finally a protective layering massage of Whipped Shea Butter. She claimed they felt like a hug to her face! She would close her eyes as I misted, she would sigh deeply and relax. As I recall now how often I would touch her, give her facials, wash her feet, massage her hands, I am glad.
Once cognitive skills decline, the primal senses become more acute. Simply sitting next to her on the couch, I realized she would lean into me, as if absorbing my warmth. Touching a hand or stroking a forehead can have a significant impact in the person’s awareness and comfort. Touching the skin is accessing that river of water, lymph and pulsing blood.
As I look back it’s hard to fathom that I didn’t realize she would not be around a lot longer. Our matriarchal lineage can live into the 100’s. She was always there.
My hands hold many memories.
*1 There is a River Beneath the Skin – C. Scott Ryan / Parabola Magazine Summer 2009
*2 Alick Bartholomew – Resurgence and Ecologist Issue #264 – Jan/Feb 2011