“somebody’s hand, make this world a better place if you can”.
You may remember these words from the song by Diana Ross back in the 1970’s. It’s a great song to highlight the importance of touch. So how can touch make the world a better place? In this blog I am going to explore how we use the word touch in our everyday language, our experience of touch and the healing power of touch.
According to the Dalai Lama “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
Touch is the most basic mode of communication. Just as a picture can paint a thousand words, the simple act of touch can convey more love in five seconds than five minutes of words.
Even our language speaks of touch. It is said the Oxford English Dictionary has more entries for touch than any other word. We use many touching expressions.
We get in touch. We keep in touch or we lose touch. We “touch wood” for good luck or say a deeply felt experience is “touching”
Experience of Touch
Touching can be affectionate, compassionate or passionate. From momentary gestures such as a high five, a warm hand on the shoulder or a pat on the back, massage, caressing, hugging or holding.
Our relationship with touching and being touched is a learned behavior. The cells of our skin store the memory of our experience of touch from an early age.
So what is your relationship to touch? Do you reach for it? Do you wait to receive it? Do you resist it? Do you find it pleasing, frightening or challenging to touch or be touched?
No matter what our experience, we all need touch from cradle to grave to sustain us emotionally and physically.
Healing Power of Touch
A baby’s exposure to nurturing touch is essential to its survival – more important even than food. Babies who are not nuzzled and cuddled enough will stop growing and if the situation lasts long enough, will die. It is that simple. Touch is essential for life.
Whatever our age we all need the healing power of touch. Nothing else can convey love, reassurance and encouragement so powerfully.
And yet we live in a “touch starved” world. Social consciousness and religious constraints inhibit the public expression of love and as a result loving behaviour. How sad for us. How sad for the millions of people who would give anything to have what one person’s cat or dog gets in the loving and touch department – even for one day!
Even those in the caring professions are constrained. Teachers are no longer allowed to comfort a distressed child with a hug for fear of litigation.
Nurses are overstretched and weighed down in protocols and paperwork leaving them little time to give the tender loving care they signed up to and yet touch is a powerful healer.
Think back to your childhood. To a time when you fell over. What made you feel better? A hug or kiss from mum or dad? What made the pain go away so quickly? The simple act of loving touch sent a message to your brain to create endorphins that naturally suppress pain.
Research shows that:
- A hand resting on the shoulder or an arm around the waist has the power to decrease the heart rate and reduce blood pressure.
- the heart rates of people in comas are strengthened when their hands are held by a close friend or family member.
- Children who receive regular positive touch feel nurtured, respected and more able to communicate with empathy and respect towards others.
Touch is an integral part of our language, an essential element of the human experience and has the power to heal on every level.
So the message is clear. Open your heart, reach out and touch – together we can make this world a better place.
To find out how you can give the gift of touch call me on 07901 576846 or click here.