Sunday, July 31, 2005

Healing Power of Touch

Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling down, that a hug or simple touch on the shoulder will help to cheer you up? Or that a massage will help you to relax and therefore you are able to concentrate better? I believe that the power of Touch is a very important part of one’s healing process, whether illness, injury, or mental illness.

Psychologically, touch is also an important part of development in young children. Touch is comfort to a child. Holding a baby can help to calm him/her when they are upset. A child can be comforted by “kissing their wound” when they are injured. They learn to cope with life’s ups and downs this way.

For an example of this, does anybody remember learning about the baby monkeys and their “mommies?” One mommy was made of wire and metal; the other was covered with a thick material resembaling fur. Guess which one the baby monkeys preferred? The “feel” of the mommies was a factor in the baby’s preference due how much comfort was previded by the form. These monkeys were obsevered to be happier and healthier as they grew.

What are some therapies that use touch to heal? Reiki, massage therapy, acupuncture, and hot rock therapy are some of the common therapies that you will find today. I believe that most of these types of therapies are considered “eastern medicine” but they can be valuable to western society, too Some might dismiss these as falling into the “New Age-y” realm and be quick to dismiss them, but I urge you to take a closer look.

If you still think that massage and the like are “new age-y”, take a look at this school of massage therapy run by Sister Rosalind in Minneapolis, a nun who ran up against many tough times (including jail time; local law enforcement thought she was running a “massage parlor”) to bring about the public awareness of touch therapy back in the early 1980’s. Here is an article to learn more about her.

So you might be thinking, why I am I bringing this up? Well, I had a conversation at work a few days ago about pain I was having. One co-worker, a usually gruff male, brought up the subject of hot rock and massage therapy and suggested I try it. This is not something I would have expected from him and as I asked him more questions, I found out that he has been involved with every kind of this type of therapy in the past.

This conversation got me thinking about how touch can heal; not only the illness or injury aspect but how it can heal inner hurts too. Touch can help you to feel connected to those around you, it can help you to feel you are not alone, it can show you that someone cares.

What does this have to do with Paganism? I see those in the Pagan community as quicker to learn and use these techniques for the healing process as they are more in tune with their bodies and what their bodies need. Pagans are willing to try new things and incorporate them into their lives quicker than “mainstream” religions, as those religions are sometimes overly stubburn in their ways.

These techniques are becoming more common place, but again, many people still consider them to be in the New Age realm. I hope this attitude will change.


Inanna said...

I think you're absolutely right about the importance of touch for physical, mental, and spiritual healing and well-being. I wish that the dominant culture in the U.S. encouraged more touching. I often feel hungry for it.

TurtleHeart said...

Its interesting to think that when I am hurting the most (physically or emotionally) I turn away from touch (I am an isolator). I wonder what would happen if I welcomed touch instead?

I have recently had the experience where nothing cured my ongoing, unexplained shoulder pain-- until I had massage and reiki done. After only 2 sessions, my shoulder is now almost completely pain free for the first time in over a year.

Sojourner said...

I was in a car accident a few years back, and the only thing that helped me through the two year process of recovery was massage therapy, so I understand.

I usually turn from touch as well, but with the above experience I am trying to accept it more. I started to realize that it is when we are in pain, physical or emotional, that we need to be reached the most.

Thank you for sharing your story. :)