With the recent #metoo and #timesup movements, I’ve been thinking a lot about touch.
The focus lately, of course, has been on the wrong kind of touch.
The kind that makes us feel shame and fear and anger.
Used, violated, helpless, traumatized.
The uninvited kind.
The kind that crossed a line.
The kind that has put women on guard, time and time again, and made them leery of being touched.
The kind that destroys a healthy relationship with touch.
A world full of women are walking around with PTSD of one level or another from being touched inappropriately.
And yes, many men, as well.
Say what you will about social media, but it has helped birth a movement which is determined to change this story of power and disrespect.
But today I want to say good things about touch.
How it heals.
How it’s a basic human need.
How living without it can make us emotionally and physically sick.
I learned a great deal about touch when I studied Ayurveda.
Abhyanga is an oil massage that is a key component of Ayurvedic healing. It can be a form of self-massage or given by another.
In the last year of my struggle with fibromyalgia, I discovered abhyanga and began going for weekly treatments. I can say with certainty that it played a big role in my healing. My pain level kept decreasing as the weeks and months went by.
People with a lot of vata dosha in their constitution especially benefit from the slow gentle nature of abhyanga because oil lubricates their tendency towards dryness, it calms their over-active nervous system (vata rules the nervous system) and it can help tremendously with pain (something that is also a side effect of unbalanced vata).
Vata people generally like to touch and be touched. The air element is responsible for touch and is associated with vata dosha.
But, here’s the thing. Many of us live a very vata-frenzied life, and no matter what our constitution is, we can all benefit from touch therapies that soothe our nerves and help to bring calm into our daily lives.
I learned even more about touch when I studied energy healing.
Time and time again I would witness emotional and physical blockages cleared (or at least lessened) from hands-on healing.
Yet, I’m also aware of how vulnerable people can feel in the hands of someone doing healing work, especially if they’ve been traumatized in the past.
I know firsthand that an inappropriate moment with someone you’ve trusted can be devastating and leave you touch-shy for years, if not decades.
Thankfully, it is possible to move beyond and let touch back into your life.
Always let your intuition guide you, ask questions, or speak up if something makes you uncomfortable.
And, I like to remind people not to forget their own healing touch. Laying your own hands on parts of your body where you’re experiencing pain or discomfort can have amazing results.
We have powerful chakras (energy centers) in our hands (especially the palms) and this is where anyone doing healing work, hands-on or not, usually focuses.
A healer can feel that strong flow of energy that has the capacity to clear and recharge a person’s energy and help to remove blockages that could be affecting physical and emotional health.
Anyone can feel this, and if you pay attention, you’ll notice how often we use our hands with healing in mind without thinking.
We put our hands on our sick child, to ease their pain.
Or on someone’s back who needs steadying.
Our hands go to our heart center when something touches us deeply, or to our gut when we get that “gut feeling”.
Holding hands with a loved one can be deeply intimate and healing.
It’s really no mystery, our need for touch. It’s part of our nature, and of Nature, in general.
This morning as I was writing this article, I peeked at Instagram and the first post I saw was of a mother bear hugging her cub. It was about the healing power of hugs!
I love synchronicity so much! I’ll bet you already know that.
I’ve lived alone for several years now and I’m pretty good at it. I need a lot of alone time and I have to say, it suits me.
But, I try to make sure I get a hug or two in every day, even if I have to knock on my neighbor’s door to get one. She gives great hugs.
After all, the bear is one of my totem animals.
Virtual hugs, (Not the same, I know!)