Good Energy Massage

Integrative therapy for the Body, Mind and Spirit.

Vitamin “T” – The essential need of TOUCH

Touching can reassure us, relax us, comfort us, or arouse us, like nothing else. In a way, the importance of touch is so basic that we tend to take it for granted, just as we do breathing. As children, we were curious to touch everything we saw. But frequently as our hands reached out to explore, an adult voice could be heard to say, “don’t touch,” followed by an assortment of reasons implying that touching could be dangerous, rude, disrespectful, shameful, unsanitary, and even sinful. Many of us have been taught, either openly or by example, that touching is something to be suspicious of and avoided. This kind of ingrained thinking is often responsible for the sexual dysfunction we experience as adults. These constraints are difficult to shed, further inhibiting us from natural physical contact with others.

No one is exempt from needing to be touched. Humans need to touch and be touched, just like we need food and water.  The connection between touch and well being is far more than skin deep. From the moment of birth our tactile sense is being stimulated. Pushed out, picked up, and slapped on the bottom, we are placed at our mother’s breast, and a bonding process begins.

Your skin is also your largest organ. In a grown man, it covers about 19 square feet and weighs about 8 pounds. A piece of skin the size of a quarter contains more than 3 million cells, 100 to 340 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings and 3 feet of blood vessels.

The need for bonding, or close physical contact with another human being, remains with us throughout our lifetime. It generally feels good to have another human being’s skin come into contact with our own. Some of us repress our craving for warmth and affection, while others go to extremes to obtain it. Much of how we function as adults, depends on how we were nurtured during infancy. We have all experienced moments when the touch of a hand on our shoulder or a reassuring hug was all that was needed to reduce our fear, anxiety, or loneliness. Touching is an act of love, a way of communicating without words.

Scientists have shown that the amount of body contact in our lives plays a vital role in our mental and physical development as infants and in our happiness and vigor as adults. Touch influences our ability to deal with stress and pain, to form close relationships with other people, and even to fight off disease.

The need for touch, as important as it is throughout our lives, is never more crucial than immediately following and shortly after exit from the womb. Because vision and hearing take time to fully develop, touch becomes possibly the most critical of all the senses to the newborn. There’s no question that babies deprived of motherly affection don’t fare too well–emotionally or physically. Years of experience with infants raised in public institutions have shown this to be true. Earlier in the century, infants, forced to live in such sterile environments, often wasted away and died. Back then, no one could provide any good explanations. Today, scientists offer fresh insight. Their studies on both human and animal babies have shown that the brain–by releasing or withholding certain chemicals–regulates the physical and emotional development of the infant. And the brain’s actions, in turn, are controlled by touch. In studies with premature infants, half of the tiny babies, selected at random, were gently stroked for 45 minutes a day. The other half was not. Although all were fed the same amount of calories, after ten days, the touched babies weighed-in 47% heavier than the unstimulated group. Not only were those babies bigger, they were happier as well. The stroked kids were more active, more alert and more responsive to social stimulation.

In the adolescent years, the parents and child begin to withdraw from one another; the teenager, out of a sense of self-consciousness with her new feelings and physical changes, and the parents, out of book-learned attitudes and discomfort with their developing offspring. Hugging, kissing, and physical closeness may diminish or stop completely then, leaving the young adult starved for affection. This hunger is often satiated through indiscriminate sex with peers; a way of continuing touching where parents left off. The need for touching does not exclude the elderly. While the skin of an older person may be aesthetically less appealing because of wrinkles, spotting, and dryness, the human being inside the skin craves touching more than ever.

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March 11, 2010 Posted by | Massage and Body Work | | Leave a comment