Sometime last year, I accidentally bumped into someone I knew few decades ago. He owned a music shop and I would buy audio cassettes from him regularly. Both of us were overjoyed to meet after such a long gap. He went on to tell me that he was in deep financial trouble and how his family, relatives and friends deserted him in tough times.
He spoke for almost half an hour. He finally got someone to vent out his troubles. I was only glad to hear him out. However, I did not know what to tell him to assure him that his life will be fine and it’s just a passing phase.
I convinced him that I shall keep him in my prayers but at the same also thought of giving him a hug. That hug immediately bought a smile on his face. For some reason, I felt good too.
It’s been almost an year since I met him, and I can’t actually recollect the conversation we had, but I do recall the hug even today.
Few years ago, I met with an accident near Mangalore and I was lying on the hospital bed with unbearable pain. I experienced an unbelievable relief when a nurse just held my ankle while the plastering was done.
There is definitely some magic in touch. Touch heals not only physical injuries but also beneficial for mental health and well being too.
If you believe in God and that he is the master craftsman and his wonderful creations, and that humans are one of them, he has designed all living beings with great thought.
Through our hands, we have the power at our finger tips to bond with others and heal mental and physical injuries.
As society evolved, humans also became paranoid about touch. There may be few genuine reasons for doing that but we now have a society deprived of healing power through a simple touch for many of the illness including blood pressure, loneliness, anxiety and depression.
Many of our actions at social settings like hand shakes and hugs have some origins and a reason behind it. It is just that we don’t do it often even when we need it the most.
Touch is the first language humans learn
If you think of the bigger picture of the creator of the universe, isn’t it amazing the way the creator of this beautiful universe has designed life on earth with food, air and water in abundance ?
His designs for life on earth was very futuristic. He knew that humans are not going to have an easy life. However, along with the basic necessities, he has also provided us humans with a gift of touch, the ability to bond with another human and also cure many illness. His design for humans to communicate with each other was through eyes, facial expressions and touch. Though humans were gifted with the ability to make sound, language was not God’s creation. It was humans who invented language.
We all know the power of words. Words can destroy your confidence and words that can heal too, but nothing can beat touch simply because it was God’s design for humans to communicate with another soul.
If your friend has lost someone close to him/her and if you think you are not good at words to console them, then a gentle and soft touch on their forearm or wrist can convey your message and calm the person. This is just one example how humans communicate with another person.
The effect of touch is instantaneous and profound too.
Why babies need touch to survive ?
Babies need their mother’s hug for their development and growth. In fact, a hug from their mother is the first form of communication which a baby learns. A hug from a mother gives security to the baby – an assurance that someone is there to look after them.
Research has proved that lack of adequate mother-child bonding through touch leads to emotional disturbances later on in life. In fact, it was observed that a baby could die when they did not get adequate affection and touch, even though they had proper nutrition e.g. in an orphanage.
A child needs touch and affection for much longer though.
A back rub or a massage calms the baby which allows them to get proper sleep, which is essential for brain development.
While the benefits of massage for a baby is known, what is not really understood well is the effects of lack of adequate touch or hug. The symptoms only appear at a later stage, especially in the teens, when they grow up and the emotional imbalance is seen in the form of irritability, always angry, aggressive behaviors and are vulnerable to addictions such as drugs, alcohol, smoking or viewing adult content.
What parents or most adults do not realize is that each of these addictions reveals the problem of emotional disturbance during early childhood.
The truth is that education and awareness of these ills does not do much because the brain of young children does not understand the language we speak as much as the physical touch.
Massage has been proven to heal adolescents with ADHD and helped them to sleep better and focus on tasks without getting distracted.
Why we need human touch more than ever ?
We often get to see aggressive behavior from people either at work or on personal front. People are getting isolated more and more with each passing year due to technology invading our lives, that non-sexual human contact is becoming rare.
Touch is known to strengthen our immune system, which in turn helps fight major illnesses. Touch also helps regulate blood pressure, reduce stress and helps humans become emotionally content. Emotionally satisfied people are more likely to thrive and succeed in their careers and in relationships with their partners, friends and in general interaction with society.
Have we created a touch deprived society ?
Let’s be honest. We all crave for touch and being touched. It’s innate desire for human beings. Because of few incidents of inappropriate touch and aggressive behavior, touch even in form of non-sexual one is frowned upon in most societies.
Children are rightly taught about good and bad touch. But then with the fear of bad touch, they are deprived of healthy touch in form of cuddling and hugs. The effects of touch deprivation is only seen when they reach adolescence or adulthood.
United States and Britain is a prime example. But then you also find a lot of cases of violence, anxiety and depression in a touch deprived society.
It is an irony that touch starved people now book appointments with doctor for physical examination just to be touched.
While touch from even friends maybe unwelcome for many, people book massage therapies and are willing to be touched by strangers.
Touch as a language of love
Most marriages in modern times evolve as years pass by with reduced physical intimacy. This is the time when relationship and bonding diminishes. Holding hands is one one of the best ways to show that you still love your partner.
Many who cannot express their love through words that their partner want to hear will use touch as an expression for love. Touch surely is more effective than words.
Touch as a healing for depression
Depression is a major but less understood illness. Depression is the single most contributing reason for suicides around the world. It is also the only illness that causes problems in relationships.
Depression alters the brain chemistry and it is not something you just snap out of it by watching a movie.
There are multiple reasons that contribute to clinical depression. One common symptom is that they feel nobody cares for them. This is indeed a genuine reason, especially in our modern society, where people communicate through smartphones and not through face to face contact.
It is very unfortunate that depression also ruins relationships. Because people who suffer from depression tend to push people away including their romantic partner / spouse. Lack of libido is a common problem and hence there is no physical intimacy. This is the right time for the partner of the depressed person to hold hands or just gently place their arms on the shoulder – as gentle touch gives the message to the brain ‘I am here for you. You are not alone’. Sometimes, that is all the person suffering from depression need on regular basis to recover.
Unfortunately, the reality is, that the partner usually walks out confused with their erratic behavior and hence further isolation only makes matter worse and delays recovery from depression.
I have always wondered that why is that the healing power of touch is not researched further and promoted through magazines and television, when it is now well know that the healing properties of touch for many of our illness are literally at our finger tips and is free for all of us.
Perhaps, this capitalistic society will never let us know the truth.