Our world comes alive and real with the sense of touch.
I can see a tree, but it comes alive when I can set my hands on its trunk, feel its rough contours underneath my fingers.
Touching brings a connection to things. It diminishes the space between and brings us together with the world. A stone polished over thousands of years lies dormant beneath a stream and though I can picture what it might look like or feel like before I reach for it, reality takes over when my hands pick it up and I feel its smooth surface between my fingers – the cold dampness and solid weight answers to the inquisitive feel of touch.
Touch is the first thing to develop in the womb, the last sense to leave in old age and it is vital to every human being’s health. A gentle touch to the arm can reassure, relax and instill comfort to a person. To touch signals we care, that we are reaching out of our boundaries to communicate on a deeper level and so directs our attention in a more focused manner.
The number of immune cells in the body increases with a friendly handshake or a pat on the back. Therapist and author Virginia Satir stated that human beings need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth. I say bring on the hugs. Our separateness from each other becomes an energetic bond right down to the cellular level when we touch.
Depression, anxiety, stress can all be reduced by touch. And so can physical pain. Healers around the world throughout time have instinctively and independently developed a broad range of therapeutic techniques that use touch.
One beautiful, non-invasive and humanistic way for the body’s natural ability to heal itself is through massage. The beneficial touch of a massage therapist in action increases circulation so the body can pump added oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. It stimulates the flow of the lymphatic system and increases the body’s natural defense system.
Muscles become more relaxed while injured and overused muscles start to feel better. Joint flexibility increases and brings agility to the body creating a feeling of lightness. Posture is improved and even headaches can be relieved. There are also physiological and chemical changes that manifest from having a massage. Arthritis sufferers have fewer aches and less stiffness and pain. High blood pressure is lowered as well as stress hormones.
A simple hour under the mindful touch of a massage therapist is an incredible treat for anyone and is worth every penny shelled out.
The most common forms of massage are Swedish and Deep Tissue but many more make the list and are worth their weight in healing. Acupressure uses pressure of the hands, fingers, elbows or other tools to apply pressure to specific acupuncture points. Aromatherapy combined with deep tissue massage can enhance healing through essential oils by promoting circulation or whatever healing properties the oil might have.
A chair massage is a wonderful way to receive a healing touch. This type of massage allows you to remain fully clothed while resting in a comfortable sitting position. The therapist can effectively work the head, neck, arms, hands, back and legs and usually lasts between 15 to 30 minutes.
One of my favorites is hot stone massage which is an incredible way to give your blood vessels an ebb and flow affect with hot basalt stones and cold marble stones. Hot stones are heated and placed in strategic spots to loosen tight sore muscles of the back and then cold stones follow to reduce inflammation.
All in all, any massage that works the body is going to bring health benefits, if only for the healing effects provided by connecting with another through the human touch.