Touch as Food

images-6Can you recall a time as a child when your mom/dad cradled or held you?  How about if mom/dad touched your forehead to determine if you were really telling the truth about feeling sick enough to stay home from school?  What about when you cried? Or were elated and excited about something?

Touch is the most important element in development and nourishment for life itself.  I know, some may be thinking, “Wrong! We can’t survive without food, or we’ll die.”  That’s also true.  There have been various studies on the power of touch on infants and development.  One troubling study involving infant monkeys that were fed food but touch was withheld.  The result: they withered and died. The video was and is heartbreaking, extremely painful to watch and I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s basically animal cruelty in the name of science.  Yes, all beings need food, but touch is the elixir of life.

Touch is such a powerful healing tool, but our world, especially as adults, lose that element.  As adults, we are often much more focused on work, keeping our lives and family afloat that we often forgo touch.  We get caught up in the daily grind of living and we think touch is expendable.  It’s not.  We may have spouses and partners, accessibility to touch within our grasp, but we still forego it.  Unfortunately, many children and adults don’t get touched enough or at all, by no choice of their own.  One may have grown up in a family system where “Hugs, physical nurturing and I love you’s’ were sparse if not rare, so the outward expression of love through touch may be uncomfortable.

intimacy

Touch and physical nurturing are imperative to our growth and development as children and it doesn’t stop being important just because we grow up.  Often times, people think that only the elderly suffer lack of touch, but that isn’t so.  The elderly population may be the largest population, because we are a consumer-throw-away culture of anything or anyone that gets too worn and old. However, in addition to the elderly population, lack of touch impacts children, singles, couples and the closest of long time married couples.  Couples will often report a lack of touch or sustained (intimate) eye contact with their partner.  Even the closest relationship can be devoid of hugs, hand holding or sustained eye contact, just because.

Let me be clear, the touch I’m speaking about is safe, kind and loving. Intimate touch where you connect with another in a non sexual way.  Sexual touch has many benefits, closely linked to the benefits of non sexual touch.  However, sex can often be confused and expressed as the only touch resource.

When I work with clients, using energy healing such as Reiki and cranio-sacral, I have noticed that by just holding the clients head, or placing a hand on the forehead often elicits feelings of love and sadness in addition to relaxation.  The client often remembers nurturing touch, yet realizes how much that doesn’t happen in their life presently, leading to a feeling of sadness and longing.  We are so much in our heads, our minds never stopping to the point that we negate our bodies.  I have found in my experiences that a whole session can be based around cradling the clients cranium.

There are various reasons why touch is such powerful healing tool.

  • Being touched, such as hand holding, being held, or hugged can mimic a time when you were a child being lovingly touched by your parent or caregiver.
  • Because of the previously mentioned, touch helps yourself and another to regulate your emotions.  For example, if you’re feeling sad, angry, or fearful, a touch of hand or a hug can calm you down by calming your nervous system.  You can do this for another too.
  • The body, your body, holds memories of experiences in your life that are remembered (stored) on a conscious and subconscious (body) level.  Past experiences that you think don’t currently matter or impact you, actually do.   Working through the subconscious through touch allows the deep memories and experiences that may have no language to surface.  This can assist you in becoming aware of and releasing old emotions and beliefs.
  • If you have experienced abuse (physical/sexual) or neglect (haven’t been physically/emotionally nurtured as a child), touch can help you to become re-acquainted or know what healthy nurturing touch is and what it feels like.   People who have been sexually abused can become highly sexualized and equate most touch as sexual.  Furthermore, the individual’s identity is often wrapped up in sexualization of self and others.
  • Touch build’s intimacy and trust between partners as well as parents and children and friends.
  • Touch is imperative to thriving child development.  Touch helps the brain and body to develop. Without touch for the child, the brain can atrophy in certain areas and make brain development (emotional intelligence and cognitive development) more difficult.  Lack of touch can also greatly affect a child’s immune system decreasing their physical health.

Scan-5

Touch is food. Food for the mind, Food for the Body and Food for the Soul.

Whether you’re single or in relationship, recall how often you get touched in a way that feeds your depth, feeds your soul, or makes you feel loved as you are.

Mantra:

7 Hugs a day for a healthy heart.  The number is negotiable.

Exercise:

Ask someone close to you, parent, child, partner, friend for a hug.  They most likely need one too.