Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Living for Today: The Power of Healing Touch

Each day is a new beginning.  With our hands and smiles, we let our bodies know they are precious and valued, no matter how we may be feeling.  Self-massage is a great way to comfort an injury, alleviate tension, honor what feels good IS good. There are times we may be the only person at hand to do this self-affirming nurturing!
We touch when we give a friend, or even a stranger, a big smile, a word of encouragement, a gesture of kindness that lets another know this could be a brighter day.  We all need appreciation and encouragement. In our fast-paced world, it is too easy to be forgetful and dash from one project to the next.  Let the sun, rain, or snow touch your face when you go outside.  Let positive images on-line, in books or classes move you to respond in a way that may touch someone needing connection. The skin is our largest organ, our interface with the world outside our own body.  It protects us constantly.  Do we remember to bathe her with creams that soften the dryness?  Do we give ourselves a big hug for a job well done, or in empathy when things are not going well?  Do we choose to move like a small child does when great music comes on, suddenly becoming the dancer long neglected? Primal folks dance readily; many of us struggle with this as adults, for we’ve lost our spontaneity and free spirit.

Oxytocin is a vital hormone that helps us relax, get out of our heads, and bond with the object of our delight. It connects a mother nursing her baby, lovers kissing and sharing fond embraces, and the welcome gift of a lovely bouquet to honor a special day.  Without it, we can become hard and rigid, disconnected from those we care about and from ourselves.  Simple pleasures from a walk on the beach holding hands with a friend to watching a movie that makes us laugh and be glad again can release this important hormone. Sacred rituals can also release oxytocin, like a reception after a wedding where folks hug, dance, eat, drink, and let down their guard.

Rituals can honor a very difficult time too, like when a loved one dies, or we give away a newborn child in an open adoption, accepting our role as a parent is ending. Such times are poignant and touching, requiring courage, self-care, and compassion beyond anything we may have previously experienced.  Touch is a vital, lifelong need, too easily neglected when we may need it most, while drugs often deaden sensation and connection.  Touch indeed has the power to assist in healing whatever ails us!

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