When I think of the “power of touch” it immediately makes me think of being nurtured and how that simple act of caring can make such a difference in your well-being.
This brings to mind a story that one of my favorite therapists, who is now deceased, shared with me many years ago. She was working at our client company providing chair massage. A year prior, Pat had been diagnosed with cancer, but she still wanted to provide this much needed massage therapy and nurturing to others. She would call and we would talk about her illness and how much doing this work meant to her well-being because, as she told me, she was getting back more from clients then she was giving.
In other words, providing chair massage to our clients, was feeding her need to be a “present participant” in the very human need to give and receive human touch that can be a very healing force in nature.
As it happens, one of the clients Pat was working on during that time, was also dealing with her own cancer diagnosis. She told Pat that she would not have been able to continue going to work had it not been for their weekly massage session together which gave her more physical and emotional strength to endure her prognosis.
The therapeutic value of those massage sessions extended to every part of her being and as it turned out to Pat as the provider as well.
The need for human touch is significant from the onset of life, as can be noted in one study done at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. This was the first center in the world devoted solely to the study of touch and its application in science and medicine.
Scafidi, F., Field, T., Schanberg, S.M. (1993). Factors that predict which preterm infants benefit most from massage therapy. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 14, 176-180.
Preterm infants were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or control group. The massage therapy infants gained significantly more weight per day than the control infants. Seventy percent of the massage therapy infants were classified as high weight gainers whereas only forty percent of the control infants were classified as high weight gainers.
The control infants who, before the study, consumed more calories and spent less time in intermediate care gained more weight. In contrast, for the massage group, the pattern of greater caloric intake and more days in Intermediate care before the study period along with more obstetric complications differentiated the high from the low weight gainers, suggesting that the infants who had experienced more complications before the study benefited more from the massage therapy.
With the world being so touch averse these days due to the negative news regarding unwanted sexual advances, it is important to remember that we cannot become afraid of the very basic human need to connect our “humanity” through the power of nurturing touch which can help change a life in an instant as my dear Pat would tell me…
Stay well… Michele
Owner, Corporate Soul