Gifting Ourselves, One Touch at a Time
Updated: Mar 22
As I reflect back on my career as a massage therapist, I realize three things. First, touch is necessary for the livelihood of society. It is an invitation for individuals to join in the group in a way that speaking kind words could never do. It backs the word; it is proof. Second, the healing aspect of massage runs deeper than superficial fixes. Many people schedule appointments because there is something wrong with the body. Usually, they've ignored the body’s given messages from months or even years prior. The body is beat and needs a quick fix, until meds arrive or insurance is available. Massage gives the mind a break. It releases toxic energy that prevents one from hearing these messages the body is sending. Lastly, massage sets one up for a proactive lifestyle. Although, massage is becoming more popular, it is still an alternative to medical treatment. People, who get massage on a regular basis, become proactive with their healthcare needs. They understand that health is personal, and the experts (doctors, chiropractors, therapists, etc.) are there to help patients make decisions. The choices are personal responsibilities. When one begins to approach their health this way, they use a similar approach in other areas of their life, as well. Massage therapy is not a cure all, but it does aid the healing process of the body, mind, and soul.
The World Needs Touch
From infancy to those with declining health, touch is a necessity. For some, touching is second nature, but for many it feels awkward. When we aren't touched we feel unimportant. This might not be a spoken need, because sometimes we don’t understand what it is that we need. The first sense outside of mother’s womb is touch. Baby feels the doctor or midwife in the delivery process. Then the chaos of living hits and there is an overwhelming stimulation of the senses. The bright lights, air, sounds from delivery assistants and family members, and endless poking and prodding invade the senses simultaneously. Then momma embraces her baby for the first time. Although this is new to baby, he somehow knows her scent and begins to feel secured from the chaos.
For elderly and/or terminally ill people, touch is vital. It is a way of showing one’s importance despite the condition of their health or age. They are slower in their pursuits and many times loneliness sets in. Touch brings comfort and love, and these are as necessary when the idea of death is very near.
And for everyone between infancy and the last stages of life, touch is important too. Stress is a major cause for disease, since it jump starts bad habits that work against the body’s survival. Touch helps to lower stress. It doesn't demand anything in return. It says to slow down and I love you.
Releasing the Toxic Energy
Many people schedule a massage as a last effort for comfort or healing. It is usually either a friend or doctor recommendation. After months or even years of emotional or physical pain, touch is an afterthought when traditional means have failed. Either the body doesn't respond to medication properly or emotional baggage can no longer be endured. Failure to live lovingly through touch by neglecting to touch loved ones regularly or simply by resisting it, causes the heart to harden. When this happens, the mind is on autopilot, where it lives on a conveyor belt in a sense. You live to get by, without any sense of enjoyment. Getting things done is now the only goal. This is not a pursuit of happiness. You live dying inside and out, rather than dying to live. We begin the road to death the minute we are born. What better way of making the most out of that truth than making your road count, make it mean something. We can’t make life count with a hardened heart.
Neglect the body and neglect the mind and your soul becomes weary. Floating above the waters of your life is discontent. And when you are in this negative mindset, you attract more negativity, as well as spew it out. When we allow touch in our lives, the mind is allowed to rest from the’ to do’ lists. It may be a small gesture or a huge deposit of intimacy, but the mind is free to relax, even if only for a minute. And every minute is a deposit of positive energy into a hardening or hardened heart.
Our nerves control every aspect of our body; they process input and output messages that help the body to function properly. When we are overloaded physically or mentally, the body and mind begin to deteriorate. Touch helps to slow down or relieve pain. It helps to restore the mind’s deterioration. It relaxes muscles and improves circulation, which are necessary for the brain to give and receive messages accurately. Touch may seem like a superficial gesture, but the brain, our processing center, confirms how vital we need touch.
Far greater than receiving touch is the act of touching. It is one of the senses the body requires for processing information. When we neglect touch, we shut off this component for learning about the world around us. Love through touch is difficult to reciprocate when it is foreign. Verbal love is superficial when actions of love do not back it up. But when we let love through touch in, we begin to feel that love, and when we love with a touch, negativity is cancelled out. Although massage is a last effort for comfort or healing, it is a first step at reclaiming your heart and your pursuit of happiness.
Touch through massage is becoming more popular as an alternative to western medicine, and the many sprouting massage businesses can attest to this. For many, their first massage appointment is intimidating. We may not know what to expect and often times it just feels weird. It’s one thing for a stranger who is a doctor to poke and prod us with our clothes on, and then he advises with authority on what our next step should be, but it is entirely another thing for a stranger to rub us, usually naked under a sheet and blanket, according to our determined needs evaluated in the initial consultation. During the initial consultation, the massage therapist asks you what your needs are, and if you don’t know, he or she will assist you in determining what they are. Although they are trained in the art of massage, classes for parents and couples are also becoming more popular. Reintroducing touch as a form of healing to your life allows you to better process information since you are now using one of the senses that have been neglected.
This new attitude is productive and proactive. Rather than leaving the responsibility of health to others, you are now taking back your life. And when this happens, you look at your life much differently. The realization of your pursuit of happiness and importance is an active one that involves work and commitment. You desire to get to the root of problems instead of using bandages that in time fall off. Depending on your level of health, taking back your life might seem overwhelming, but don’t forget that touch is a two person act. And when we know we have others to love and to love us in return, we gift ourselves back to life.