“To touch is to give life”
Modern medicine recognizes that the power of touch simply makes you healthier. Consistent bodywork reduces stress, boosts our immune system and has a profound effect in our ability to stay connected to our ‘self’ and our fellow humans. And in our high tech culture, we may have to work harder to honor our innate human need for touch.
Small gestures like a pat on the back, rubbing someone’s shoulders, caressing an arm, these are our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion. Research documents some of the incredible emotional and physical health benefits, suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding and health. Dacher Keltner, the UC Berkeley psychology professor and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center, shares his insights from the new science of touch: compassionate communication, touch therapies, and proof that “to touch is to give life.”
Imagine this: you are a research scientist on official people-watching duty at a cafe. You sit and watch two friends have a conversation and count how many times they touch each other. You do this around the world, in the United States, in England, France, Puerto Rico. Which country do you think had the most touch? The least? Here are the results:
- US – 2
- England – 0
- France – 110
- Puerto Rico – 180!
Yes, cultural norms dictate what’s acceptable, and what’s too much. Let us ask this question then: what we lose when we hold back too much?
In January 2014, Samantha Hess opened up a brick and morter professional hugging studio on E. Burnside in Portland Oregon. She got 10,000 inquiries in the first week. The idea was simple – provide non-sexual touch to those who otherwise might go without. “Professional cuddling is platonic touch. We offer people a sense of self worth,” Hess said. “It’s about getting people to feel respected, accepted and worthy for who they are today.” In the beginning, her clientele was 90-percent male and now it’s 50-50, which shows that the power and need for touch is not gender biased.
So, for your health, and the health of the ones you touch, do one of these things every day for the next week. Put it on your calendar!
+ hold hands with someone. sync your breath with theirs
+ give someone a hug
+ release with a therapeutic massage
+ walk barefoot in the grass
+ explore your skin for anything unusual
+ examine your body in the shower
+ truly connect with your food: eat with your fingers!
+ make something by hand
Book your massage session this week by calling us at 503-288-7668.