3 ways to improve your life through the power of touch
Touch makes us happier, less anxious and re-affirms bonds within relationships. In a world of actioning and busyness, the power of touch is too often underestimated. As a massage therapist I come across many people who are starved from being touched.
The benefits of physical touch have been extensively studied in the world of science. Healthy touch can strengthen connections, reduce stress, boost immune system, relieve pain, heal, nourish and soothe. Physical touch is one of the five ways people communicate and receive emotional love, allowing us to communicate in ways words cannot do. We seem to have forgotten that language.
When human infant are born touch is the first of the senses to develop and it remains perhaps the most emotionally central throughout our lives. A new born feels CONNECTION and SAFETY through the touch and smell of the mother, and studies prove that touch in infancy is significant for growth and development.
Due to difficulties at birth, I was in a cast from toes to belly for the first year or so of my life. I believe this has significantly affected my view of the world, and my journey in it so far. It has driven me to explore the value of touch and how we can improve our life through it.
Human beings are unique in the sense that we require a certain amount of affection in life, especially when we are young or ill.
So how do we bring more healthy touch in our life?
1) Develop sensitivity to and understanding of “safe touch”
Of course, touch can also hurt, it involves vulnerability and trust, but also boundaries and the capacity to communicate what is “safe touch”. In a world of touch deprivation, unhealthy touch rises.
Unfortunately too often not feeling safe means 'no touch' at all and when we hold back too much, we miss out on too much.
There are so many ways in which touch can be interpreted.
In India you can easily come across men in a friendship, holding hands on the streets, which in western world would only be seen as a romantic interaction. In warm countries touch is just part of the normal conversation.
So touch changes with different cultures, social norms, length of touch, context, relationship and where the touch is.
In fact touch is a language for itself, messages can be confusing when we haven't spoken the language for a while and so we hold back often due to fears and insecurities.
“Self-separation can take over your life. Open yourself, be humble, Let a little love in. You giving a chance to others to connect with you is as amazing for them as the connection and love you will feel in return.” Gayle Gforce Murphy
So take your time to familiarize with the situation and ask about what is acceptable and communicate what your intention is, behind your touch.
2) Overcome your fear of connection
In a world of separation, one can easily get comfortable with the amusement of other senses: overeating, online entertainments, social media, which don't go as close to filling up our cup for connection, as the power of touch.
We get comfortable in this and hid our fears.
Become familiar with your walls and question them. Drop a wall or two and notice how the world turns a little brighter.
Sit with your fears and blockages, practice observing with curiosity and acceptance, share them with someone you trust.
3) Mindful touch
Thich Nat Than says: when you touch one thing with great awareness, you touch everything"
Where you focus, energy goes.
Children thrive when they are nourished with parental quality of presence, because their primal need is met, everything else can then flourish.
I witness the same is adults.
Touch can be a mindfulness practice, it is in the quality of touch that we cultivate healing love. When 2 individuals are sharing touch and they are both focused on the sensations on the skin and in their beings, it creates an activation, an electric healing current which is relaxing and spreads throughout your body.
The quality of presence in your conscious touch is incredibly bonding and it literally makes/ creates love.
Cultivate ability to focus and be present within yourself on the yoga mat and or on the meditation cushion so you can transfer that in the quality of your touch.
4) Clear Boundaries: distinguish sexual from affectionate touch
I know many adults that only experience and relate to quality of touch as a foreplay for sexual interaction. I for one, have been confusing the two types of touch in my early twenties. I think there is a lot lost in that.
Check-out The Wheel Of Consent from Betty Martin which helps in bringing clarity and ease in touch with a simple practice called a “3 Minute Game”.
Cuddling balances your immune system. It releases tons of oxytocin (aka the connectionhormone that bonds people naturally) and dopamine (aka the happy chemical). It reduces pain and tightness in your muscles. It reduces stress, social anxiety, and lowers your risk of heart disease. Plus, cuddling is a natural anti-depressant/mood booster!
Have more cuddles with your friends!
Naturally, to have “cuddle buddies” requires establishing clear boundaries as to what the connection and the intention is about. And communication when it shift to a romantic and sexual realm. Take time to connect to yourself and how you are feeling and become familiar with your own boundaries, only then we can bring integrity and presence to our touch, and fully relax in the cuddle.