Last week I was involved in a project that has the potential to change lives. I was honoured to accept an invitation to share a workshop with foster parents about foot and hand massage. These amazing individuals who care for children of all ages were there to learn about creating a positive touch environment for the many kids who haven’t experienced that. The project is based on the work done by Dr Bruce Perry in understanding what happens to the brain when children are exposed to extreme stress and how positive stimulants, such as touch, can help to ease their pain, heal their spirit, create changes in the brains patterns and help these children to become healthy adults. Throughout the workshop I was continually in awe of and inspired by the dedication of these people to help the children in their care. They truly are angels.
Touch HEALS us on all levels of our being: our physical, emotional and spiritual selves. The human race has known this since ancient times, it is an innate knowledge held within our beings. Touch feels good, it soothes our soul, nurtures our spirit and improves our mental and physical well-being. We reach out to touch throughout our day…the softness of silk, pitted texture of an orange peel, furry coat of our pets, soothing warmth of a hot bath…
Our bodies speak to us in so many ways when we deny its need for touch. Crying out with pain, aggravating us with constant aches or hunching our backs in protection against stress … all point to the need for a healing touch. Our intuitive spirit protects all aspects of our being in seeking a sense of wholeness and will send us the message for self-care first. If ignored, our emotions then become the messengers through waves of anger, frustration, sadness, etc. If we still refuse to listen our bodies will give us the strongest of messages through pain or illness.
In a world filled with gadgets, social media and email that keep us “in touch” by remote, we lose that physical communication needed to be healthy and whole. We chat on media sites rather than meet for coffee, send an email in lieu of a hug, text messages rather than pick up the phone and make a personal connection… Whether the soothing touch of parent to child, a hug from child to parent, a pat on the back from a friend, the sensual touch of a lover…we all need touch.
The unfortunate, current attitude of society towards touch, only distances us from ourselves further. As a race, humans are touch deprived. Studies have often demonstrated how essential it is for babies to be touched in order to thrive, but the need for touch doesn’t decrease with age. Through touch we communicate with others that we care about and are connected to them, creating positive emotions. Simply touching someone on the hand or arm has a physiological effect in lowering blood pressure and encouraging the body to release natural painkillers and neurotransmitters essential for positive mental function.
The healing effect of touch has been an integral part of medicine for thousands of years. Healing touch sessions such as Massage, Reflexology, Reiki and Craniosacral actually force all aspects of ourselves to be present and pay attention, and in that they empower our lives. In a world of logical and intellectual thinking we forget the importance of our intuition which acts as our body’s voice. Healing touch therapies put us back in touch.
The University of Miami’s Touch Institute has collected mounting evidence that shows the benefits of increasing the amount of physical contact with friends, lovers, family and massage therapists …here’s what they discovered…
More touch = Less stress: Researchers found that after a massage session the human body secretes lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, norepinephrine and dopamine, the chemicals that can make you feel anxious and can cause stress-related “dis-eases”. On the other hand there is an increase in the secretion of “feel good” hormones and natural chemicals.
Touch = Increased brain power: A study published by the International Journal of Neuroscience showed massaged subjects completed math problems in significantly shorter time and with fewer errors.
A Massage = Beefing up the Bottom Line: The same study showed massage recipients had a profound decrease in school and job anxiety and were able to be more focused and productive.
Touch = Immunity: Studies sponsored by the National Health Institute showed medical and nursing students who underwent massage therapy demonstrated an increased immune response.
Touch = Less pain: Yes, massage is helpful in relieving muscle spasms and cramps but touch can also lessen pain in areas the therapist can’t reach. Pain has shown to be lessened for PMS, labour pains, migraine headaches, colic, teething, growing pains, arthritis…
In what is fast becoming a “hands off” society I was encouraged by the participation of these foster parents. Perhaps in their efforts to provide a loving and nurturing touch for children and teens, an awareness of caring for the whole of our being will be ignited. That their taking the time to learn about positive touch will encourage others to take some time away from gadgets and the internet and reach out to each other in a positive way and in that increase the positive energy we all need for health and well-being.
I asked the foster parents to let me know how it goes with the children in their care. What changes they may see and how their touch affects them. I look forward to hearing from them.
For more information about the programs being developed by Bruce Perry visit www.childtrauma.org
How do you reach out and touch those you care about in your life?
Do you use natural health therapies as a way to improve your mind, body, soul connection?
What positive changes have you noticed?