Using Touch As A Healing Therapy

I have always thought that it is a symptom of serious problems in our society that there is a profession of touch therapy. Just when we need it the most, touch has become taboo, unsafe. Even within the framework of the family unit, touch has become less acceptable. Laws within the workplace have made it almost impossible for one worker to touch another safely. Of course it is important for women to be protected in the workplace against sexual harassment but I've had some interesting conversations with some men friends who would not even think of patting a woman on the shoulder in a show of encouragement for work well done.

Many physicians no longer touch their patients in spite of studies that show more trust, more healing, more understanding is gained in the few minutes the doctor takes to touch his patients than at any other time. Many of my clients complain that their doctors do not touch them.

What are we so afraid of? Somewhere, someone along the way harmed us, or we perceive what happened as having been harmful to us. In defense against a pain that seemed overwhelming at the time, we began to shield ourselves from a hurt that seemed unbearable­­ suppressing and storing our pain rather than facing it. After all, isn't that what we've been taught? Take it like a man. Don't let them see your true feelings, they might think you're weak. Don't cry. We recoil feeling vulnerable­­ unable to touch or be touched.

What bodyworkers and massage therapists see everyday are people with stored and repressed pain that may be years old­­ the end result from real or perceived hurts. The symptoms we manifest in the body can be varied but most of the time it will start with muscle tension, especially in the hips. If you don't think so, the next time you are really angry if you can focus your attention away from the situation for even a few seconds to notice which muscles are the tightest­­ invariably it will be the muscles of the hips. When the muscles in the pelvic area are chronically in spasm, it makes it very difficult for the spine to be supported properly at its base. When that's pulled out of balance, the whole body system has to compensate in ways that leave the neck and shoulders out of balance. I've learned that I can massage the upper body until I'm blue but if there isn't some corresponding work done in the hips, relaxation won't hold for long.

Giving or receiving massage with someone you love, or from a professional you feel you can trust can be a powerful tool for repairing real or perceived hurts. No armoring can withstand the power of touch.

You don't have to be a professional to give massage to those you love. A little common sense and a desire to give can guide you. Besides, they will tell you if you hurt them! Don't be afraid­­ trust that you can touch and be touched and watch the tension of sore hurting muscles and the sometimes accompanying emotional pain fall away.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Last Modified: September 25, 1996
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