Keep In Touch > Keep in Touch Exercise Two: Grasping (Holding on for Life)

Exercise Two: Grasping (Holding on for Life)

Breathe in
Make a fist with both of your hands.
Feel the curve of your fingers, the way your knuckles push through your skin.
Breathe out
Keep breathing rhythmically through this exercise.
Focus on your fingertips.
Pay attention to how the pressure of flesh on flesh reciprocates.
Does the temperature change with time?
Does the texture? Have your palms begun to sweat?
Press harder
Do your nails start to dig into the flesh of your palm?
Focus on the pressure and the act of pressing back
Can you sense your phalanges under the pads of your fingertips?
Has the tension begun to cramp your fingers?
Release your fist and shake out your hands

Join the fingertips of your thumb and pinky
Notice the U shape your palm makes.
Can you feel your palm pressing against itself?
Can you press your thumb and pinky knuckles together?
Pick up an object closest to you. Hold it for two minutes
Can you feel the texture of the object? What shape do your fingers take to accommodate the object? Can you locate every point of contact?
What does each point feel like compared to the other?
Release the object

Repeat this process with every object you hold.

Grasping is one of our first reflexes to emerge after birth. Lasting about 16 weeks, this reflex is thought to be vestigial from our primate ancestors. From here, we begin to consciously hold on to objects be they people, blankets, or the frames of our cribs. This grasping is enhanced by our opposable thumbs and finely tuned touch receptors in our fingertips. The intensity of our grip changes with intention, from the steady support of pencil, the gentle shaking of a pet’s paw, the firm entanglement of lover’s hand, and the sudden life saving grasp of a handrail when losing our balance on the stairs. But how often do we take time to fully experience what’s in our grasp? It's texture and shape? What about the pressure it exerts back?