Touch is a powerful thing.
(This article was written prior to the global pandemic that saw many in isolation and unable to benefit from touch. I think we all now appreciate how important it is.)
There are many scientific studies into touch and I want to share the details of one of these with you. I would also like to encourage you to reach out and connect with others, in a bid for more understanding and increased compassion.
As someone who has trained in complementary therapies including massage, reflexology and Reiki I’ve always believed that touch is a huge part of any healing process. I know many practitioners of Reiki work above the body, in the aura, with no physical contact. However, I always (with permission and within the confines of decency, of course) worked hands-on if I could. Partly because I was used to hands-on physical therapy. But also because the element of touch is so powerful.
(Please note throughout this article I am only referring only to appropriate and consensual touching!)
Connection Through Touch
Connection is a powerful word for me.
(I truly believe it is my mission to help people connect, with themselves, with nature, with source, with their hidden magic, with their divine nature. And with one another.)
Touch is a literal way that we can connect with ourselves, nature and others. How?
- We can place our hands on ourselves – I do this regularly when I give myself Reiki. I frequently fall asleep at night with my hands on my abdomen letting the energy flow through me
- We can place our hands or feet on the earth, or reach out and touch other elements of nature: plants, trees, the sea, the rain.
- We can make physical contact with others to convey warmth, compassion, love and sincerity.
Connected With The World 24-7
Our society, especially in the U.K. and U.S.A. has lost touch with touch.
We seem to only understand it in terms of ‘touch-screens’. And they’re supposed to make us feel connected?
Yes, I can see how they do in one way, but we’re missing out on so much else.
Statistics from a 1960’s study by psychologist Sidney Jourard, showed the differences between cultures and physical contact. During conversations between friends in a cafe in different countries, those in England never touched their friend. In the United States, they touched each other twice when they became animated. What about elsewhere? The French made physical contact 110 times per hour and the Puerto Ricans 180 times per hour.
(Wow, interesting, and a bit sad for us in good ole Blighty with our stiff upper lips an’ all.)
Does Art Emulate Reality?
Interesting side-note: While looking for an image to go with this article I put the word ‘touch‘ in to a search bar on an image website. Of almost 100 pictures that came up, 7 showed two people touching. Two showed a human and animal having a snuggle, and all the rest showed technology. When I tried the word ‘cuddles’, of the almost 100 pictures, 10 showed two humans ‘cuddling’. The rest showed a combination of either human-animal, animal-animal, or human-cuddly toy connection. One showed a girl wrapping her arms around herself. I am truly saddened by this.
This is mad – touch is so powerful and we miss out on its benefits. I know that personally, post-divorce, when I was living on my own for the first time in my life, my friends (and many business acquaintances too) were pretty much forced to hug me whenever I saw them. I missed hugs. I missed human connection. I’ve recently started partner dancing and being connected with someone else in this way is extremely powerful and joyful. (Update: Met my new partner on the dancefloor!)
Mind-Reading Through Touch
I wanted to share this fascinating article with you. It refers to a powerful study on touch and how it can convey emotions. I’ll summarise it here, but I urge you to click through and read the full article at the end. It’s written by and refers to research undertaken by Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., from The University of California, Berkeley, U.S.
In a lab two strangers were separated from each other. They could touch hands through a barrier, One person had to try to convey various emotions through a one-second touch to the stranger’s forearm. The person whose arm was being touched had to guess the emotion. There was a 1 in 8 chance of guessing correctly. Participants guessed COMPASSION nearly 60 percent of the time. And gratitude, anger, love, fear were correctly guessed more than 50 percent of the time.
I find this fascinating. Here’s a link to the full article: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hands_on_research
In a world that is more and more connected by tech, but where so many people of all ages are feeling isolated and alone I’m with this fine lady:
Transformational Women's Coach, Trainer, Speaker & Author
Combining a spiritual outlook, a pragmatic approach, and a sense of humour I want to help you remember who YOU are and reveal YOUR path so you can step on to it empowered, energised, inspired and guided.
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