Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The healing touch

Humans are social animals, and as such, we have a certain need for tactile interaction.  What that interaction is varies from culture to culture, and even from individual to individual.  This is why we hug, kiss, hold hands, and have sexual encounters (that have nothing to do with procreation).  We need the touch of other human beings to be happy. Sunday, I happened to see a sick friend.  Before I left, he asked for a hug to make him feel better.  While I stood there, tucked under his arm and laughing, it struck me that we all need a healing touch from time to time, and that we all have the power to heal with our touches

My relationship with touch is complicated, and not unique.  Touch from my mother and my youngest brother has always been full of affection.  They were the two people I hugged the most as a child.  I had to learn to accept other people's touches though. I am shy, and as a child, it was much worse, making me very hesitant to be around new people.  Coupled with being molested as a child, I had a hard time in some situations being touched at all, much less being hugged.    I've healed from those experiences, for the most part, but occasionally, I find myself attempting to not be touched by anyone.  It causes friction in my closest relationships when I don't want to be touched, even the lightest, most innocent fashion by anyone, including my children and husband.  It's not their fault, and it's not mine either.  It simply a part of my life to be dealt with, to try to understand and overcome.

It should be no surprise that I am fascinated with how touch is important to human beings.  When my husband and I were still in high school and beginning our relationship, I noticed something interesting about his touch: he could soothe small aches with just a simple touch.  It was also at the same time that a wonderful, kind woman I knew was dying of cancer.  The day she died, her family sat on the edges of the room, watching her, but not one of them would hold her hand.  When I went to say my goodbyes, I was holding her hand and she was so desperate to feel human contact, that she didn't want to let go. her pain was less, when my mother or I held her hand, and that was an amazing thing.  When my son was born, parenting books and magazines were all touting the benefits of skin to skin contact with babies to ease colic, soothe pain, and make them feel secure.  Science is learning that we need contact with others.

Some people have a marked and obvious healing touch.  My nine year old son can ease pain with a touch, and that is an amazing gift.  People like him are rare and fascinating, but we should not overlook our own ability to heal with a touch in a more subtle way.  Massage, acupressure, and caresses can help us heal in very real ways, but just as important are the more subtle touches we use, like hugging, kissing, and holding hands.  Our brains process not only information from our bodies and environments, but our emotional states as well. being held when we are sad can help soothe our emotions and influence the chemicals in our brains that tell us how we feel.  Hormones released during sex can cause euphoria, and a massage can help manage pain.  Many forms of touch that can help healing require no special training, no healing powers; they work becasue they connect us to others in a tangible fashion. Healing is as much about intention and love as it is about curing a malady, and we all have the ability to heal hearts and lend support to physical healing through love and an intent to ease suffering.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment, share or ask questions, but please, keep comments in good taste and respectful.