The Healing Power of Touch

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.

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44 thoughts on “The Healing Power of Touch

  1. I am glad you believe in power of touch! An assuring hand and a jaadu ki jhaapi can fix a lot of broken minds and hearts. I wish we could leave behind the inhibitions and not relate every touch to be sexual, then we humans can be as happy and content as the animals in the wild! 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You said exactly what I wanted to mention. Another post I am coming up with is on relationships and why men need to re-think what they want out of a relationship. A simple gesture of holding hands releases the same bonding hormone which reduces anger, depression and anxiety.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Please don’t wait for me to write that post. Let your thoughts flow first.
        I intend to write few posts on education system which is in draft mode and I wish to complete them first. So the post on relationship may take a while.
        Go ahead and publish and let me know when you have.

        Like

  2. truly incredible post….I myself hold back from physical touch and sort of keep myself out of bounds for most people to try and hug….I understand my reasons why but that doesn’t mean I exactly like them…your words here right now have given me a lot to think about because I do believe such healing powers are true and goodness knows my body needs to be heal as well as the uplifting value of hugging…benefits the mind which helps heal the body its all connected. Such an excellent post! Thank you so much for directing me here! I would like to reblog this if you don’t mind? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Maureen. Instead of 100 likes, I prefer one person telling me my writing had some value.
      Reiki and other healing techniques like massage work on the same principles of natural healing.
      I believe healing touch is the best cure for many of the mental illnesses.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sudhir, you keep churning out thought provoking posts, thank you. I’ve long thought that there is much to the power of touch than people often realise. Whenever I feel down and alone, the one thing that makes me feel loved and safe is a long hug from someone close.

    You said: “modern society, where people communicate through smartphones and not through face to face contact.” I have this bugbear too. I prefer to chat in person, but if not over the phone at the very least, not text or email. The art of communication through sight & touch has been lost, and I see it in the younger generation more where their faces are permenantly glued to their phone screen.

    There’s definitely something reassuring about when someone places their hand on your shoulder when you face troubled times. I will never forget when my brother hugged me before going to the hospital to face saying goodbye to my dad. Then there was the nurse who saw my fear of going into the hospital room, she held my hand real tight, wiped the tears from my eyes, and guided me in. How I watched her massage cream into my dad’s skin eventhough she knew he was dying. She went beyond what many medical professionals do, in many ways they become stoic, but she was different, she possessed the human touch. That small gesture of kindness will never be forgotten, at that dark moment in my life, she was and still is the most beautiful stranger I’ve ever met…

    Best,

    Abi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was touched by your story about your dad, Abida.
      Hope you have recovered from the loss ?
      Yes..touch has lots of healing power. Modern society is paranoid for some reason, but touch can cure many illnesses, mainly loneliness that a lot of people are experiencing currently.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As a nurse and as a human, I am a believer in the healing of touch. I have experienced “Healing Touch” which is done so wonderfully with love often by therapists. My hospital had free sessions each month. I wept from the realization that I had not been given the affection that I needed from my husband and felt a catharsis .
    Touch is so vital to life, peace of mind and expression of love.
    Thank you for this wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I very well understand what you mean. Been there and this must be common for most people.
      Perhaps, someday people will realize that most mental illness (depression, bipolar, anxiety), undesirable emotions like anger, jealousy is because we do not receive touch often as we should.
      Thank you for your comment. Pleasure to follow your inspiring blog.

      Liked by 1 person

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