Healing Hands: A Touch of Comfort
Touching eases pain, lessens anxiety, softens the blows of life, generates hope and has the power to heal, according to most experts. In fact, modern psychology and medicine are confirming what mothers across the centuries have intuitively known: the healing power of touch. Something as simple as holding hands can make all the difference when it comes to healing. Of course, couples, particularly the happier ones, enjoy this and many other health benefits just by being together.
There is a growing body of research on the mind/body connection and the ways in which spirituality can be a powerful adjunct to conventional medical treatments. Various studies and experiments show the simple act of reaching out and touching another person can result in physical benefits such as slowing the heart rate, dropping blood pressure, a feeling of relaxation and a quicker recovery from illness. Also, your emotional and spiritual connection to the person touching you can greatly influence the benefits of touching. Contact with loved ones is a better healer than contact from a stranger. Dr. James Lynch, professor at Baltimore’s University of Maryland School of Medicine conducts extensive studies on touch and its impact upon the body. “Physical contact has very dramatic effects upon psychological health,” he says. “It lowers blood pressure. It relaxes you.” We know that anxiety decreases immune function and makes you get sick more often. If touch can help you be less anxious, you’re more likely to stay well.
If you doubt the importance of touch, ask yourself, “What is the first thing I do after I stub my toe? Or after I close a door on my finger?” You grab your toe or your finger and nurse it through your touch. We instinctively hold our ailing body parts. We instinctively look for physical and verbal contact as a source of comfort during times of emotional and physical distress. And it works the other way too. When people, especially the people that we deeply care about, are in physical or emotional distress, we instinctively provide attention and support through verbal and physical contact. Witness that when a child cries, our first impulse is to hug them. We put our arms around grieving friends. After long absences, we embrace. Often, holding hands can convey much more than mere words. How many of us still remember the way our mother caressed our face, or the sensation of dad’s hand on our head? Whether it’s just providing a shoulder to lean on or just listening, we go through these scenarios all of the time. We don’t need to be told. We know from experience that a simple touch is an effective way to ease pain and stress.
The bottom line is that physical contact is beneficial for everyone. One gentle touch can soothe, comfort and convey emotions in a way words sometimes can not. Touch may be the most important of the five senses of our body. All human activity involves touching. With touch, we feel, we love and create hope. Massage, Reiki or Therapeutic Touch are not the only ways to access the comfort of human hands. If it hasn’t been your habit to have physical contact with your family and friends, re-think your hesitation.