“Oh, that feels good. A little to the left – now down – yep, right there.” No, this is not dialog from an adult movie. It could be something you might say while you were receiving a very wonderful massage. For thousands of years, people have used touch to sooth, to comfort and to heal. I am speaking about positive touch, not inappropriate touching. There is certainly not enough touching nowadays. Everyone wants their own space. People think negatively about touching. I am a touchy, feely person. I know I make people uncomfortable because I hug them or hold their hand. They are usually resistant at first but usually they appreciate it. Our culture has so many taboos about touch. We equate touch with sexual advance, and that is not always the case.
Research has shown over and over again that touch and massage greatly improves the survivability of babies, both premature and newborn. The skin is our largest organ. It is our main sensory input when we are born. We explore our world with our hands. How many times have you picked something up to “look” at it. We want to feel the shape, the texture, the weight. And the benefits of touch are not restricted to the very young. Studies have shown that touch affects us at any age.
People connect through touch. Touch can be the safe feeling of holding hands. It can also be the encouraging pat on the back. It can be a loving embrace that says “everything will be okay. You will get through this.” Touch can even be a hand shake, a soft touch on the back of the hand that says “I am here for you.” Touch can connect you with someone else to heal their soul. Touch is a form of communication. It speaks to the soul.
Touch is very powerful, and when touch is violent or inappropriate, it can do much damage. It is much like fire – it can cook your meal or it can burn down your house. Touch, like fire, must be used carefully. Touch releases a hormone called oxytocin which helps reduce blood pressure, reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels, helps one to relax, increases pain thresholds, stimulates feelings of closeness and trust, and has anti-anxiety effects. Oxytocin also promotes healing and growth. Pregnant women have increased levels of oxytocin to promote bonding with their child. You can view abstracts of studies concerning touch at the website for the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. These are only a very few of the many studies done concerning touch.
Throughout the Bible, Jesus and others practiced their healing touch, called the “laying on of hands.” Jesus connected with many through his touch. His hands were instruments of power. The followers of Jesus knew that if he would just touch them, they would be healed.
Theraputic touch has been used to treat chronic pain and immune disorders. It is a powerful tool that activates the healing powers of the body and brings a relaxing sense of well being. Ever had a good massage? Then you know how great it feels and the results often last longer than the touch.
I like to hold hands. I like to hug. I give kisses on the cheeks. I like to demonstrate to people that I truly love and care about them. I want them to know that it is okay to demonstrate affection. I want them to see that touch does not necessarily lead to sexual activity. Touch can be a pure, sweet, powerful communication tool.
Increase your “feel good” hormones today. Hug someone you love. Be the pillar of strength for someone to lean on, hold them while they cry into your shoulder. Let them know that they have a safe and loving place in your heart. Connect with them, not only with your words, but also with your touch. Positive touch means positive results. Positive touch means positive people. Use the power of touch to connect with those you love and care about. They will feel even more connected with you.
I pray every day that God gives me the blessing of a healing touch. I strongly believe in its power. Take care, stay well and be safe.