Touchy Feely

I just had a conversation on the phone with my mother that has made me think about various things. My mum (like me) suffers with depression and while my dad is sympathetic, like a lot of men his generation, he finds it hard to show empathy, and what Mum wants more than anything is a lot more hugs, without having to ask for them. Growing up, my family was never touchy feely; I have hugged my brother twice in the last 25 years. He runs if he thinks that’s what’s coming. I have issues regarding unwanted physical contact, but I’m working on them and I do hug people I know and like. I avoid where possible the whole air-kissing routine and stick out a very rigid hand if I’d prefer to be very British and shake hands instead. This doesn’t always work with my overseas students; the Spanish especially are very affectionate(and insistent) and I’ve had some bear hugs from leaving students that have taken my breath away. As I said, I’m working on it.

But it did make me think how much touch is a neccessary part of human wholeness and health. Babies fail to thrive without it; and I do wonder if the world WOULD (as my boss said when I protested about being hugged by him!) be a happier place if we were all a bit more touchy feely. The inner jury is out on that issue, but it did make me think that therapuetic touch like massage could be such a powerful tool for healing emotional hurts as well as physical ones.

I have some expertise in this area as for six years I worked as a reflexologist and I had very loyal clients who would have written me testimonies galore about how I helped them. But the testimony that means most to me was the one my mother gave me today. I suggested(being a know-it-all and wanting to fix things for her) that she perhaps have a regular massage, or maybe reflexology. When I visited I always used to give her a treatment and she told me today how much it used to help her and that she could never previously have imagined that someone simply massaging her feet could have such a profound effect on her, and when I suggested she seek out a practictioner for regular sessions, she told me she didn’t think anyone would ever be as good as I was! I was a bit stunned because I never rated myself very highly at what I did. Obviously I was wrong about this. I live too far from my parents to be able to do this except on our infrequent visits but I hope (I shall talk to my dad about it) that Mum seeks out and tries a few massage therapists.

I am also reminded that one of the forms of healing within the Christian Church is called the Laying on of Hands. Touch is not essential to healing, but I do feel in this context, it empowers the whole process with an extra zing. People who are seldom touched respond more when the laying on of hands happens and touch reminds us of our common humanity and need for love.

So, a virtual hug to everyone, and if I get to meet you in the flesh one day, please redeem that virtual hug with a real one;  just don’t break my ribs!!!


21 thoughts on “Touchy Feely

  1. Great post.

    I’m most like your Mum,

    “what Mum wants more than anything is a lot more hugs, without having to ask for them.”

    Maybe we should each tatoo a number on our forehead:

    a ‘5’ if you’re like your Mum,

    a ‘3’ if you’re like Viv66, “I have issues regarding unwanted physical contact, but I’m working on them and I do hug people I know and like.”

    and a ‘1’ if you’re like Viv66’s brother: “He runs if he thinks that’s what’s coming.”

    Then everybody can have it the way they like it. ;D

    • Hi Dr Clare,
      nice to have you here and thank you for the comment> I suspect that reading body langauge is possibly more effective than a tat, since attitudes can change. But how many people are fluent in understanding body language!
      I’m commenting from a borrowed laptop and I’m not used to the keyboard so my body language says currently, UNCOMFORTABLE, but how many could telll that just by watching me??

  2. I do hug people I know and like

    NOTE TO SELF: Cancel next year’s trip to East Anglia due to possible “touching each other” situations with natives. What is happening to my beloved England?

  3. A virtual, sincere, and gentle hug to you!

    There is some recent research by Dr. Beverly Rubik, Biophysicist at Stamford, on the “biofield hypothesis” that adds some impressive science to the laying on of hands. She use a special camera that photographs electromagnetic fields.

    She has documented that these fields surround everyone, though they are leaner and closer to the body in those who are ill and more expansive surrounding those who are well. Remarkably, these fields are even more ample and robust around those engaged in meditation or therapeutic intervention with the hands.

    She did research on Reiki Practitioners and she documents ( with the actual photographs) that the fields move by intention, with what look like emanating rays from the fingers of the therapist aimed toward the person’s body they are intending to heal. Subsequent photographs of the client fields show that they are more vibrant and ample.

    • I did some work years back with a friend who was a homeopath and healer and even though I was and am suffering from severe depression, she found that working with my enegry filed, her arms were simply not long enough to reach the limits of it. We did some research at that time using sound and percussion as a healing mode; we held a drum circle every week and the results were sometimes extraordinary!

  4. This is very interesting, Viv. I enjoy reading your thoughts on touch and healing. And I always get a kick out of coming to visit your blog to find you’ve written on a subject I was just thinking about! After taking an introductory course on cranio-sacral healing, I’ve been fascinated with the healing power of human touch. I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely home, but I am spending a lot of time hugging and healing my own children.

    • Hi Shelley, lovely to hear from you and congrats again on your book illustrations!
      I’ve had cranio-sacral osteopathy which was awesome even though technically nothing short of a heavy mallet can actually move the cranial plates, something does happen I can’t explain. What course did you do?
      I’ve been feeling rather as if I miss my old work using reflexology for healing but I know that’s a dead end for me right now. I suppose nothing is ever wasted, though!

      • Thank you, Viv, but it was Miki who illustrated the latest book.
        I took a two-day course called Intro to CST taught by a very talented friend of mine. There were only two other students, so there was plenty of time for hands-on practice.
        No, nothing is ever wasted 🙂

      • I realised it later and felt such an idiot. Comes of not concentrating too hard when writing comments and just getting it wrong!

  5. Your heart is always in the right place, Viv!

    I am always appalled at myself when I make mistakes. I wish life had a big UNDO button to take care of all those times the wrong thing comes out of my mouth! But I am getting better at forgiving myself 🙂

    Big hugs!

    • Bless you Shelley, that’s kind. I was worrying I might have upset Miki over it, too.. I went and had a look at the amazon link but I didn’t feel able to buy as the price was too high for me right now. I’m not working full time right now so not alot of money coming in from me. So I can’t make a gesture I’d like to by buying. Certainly not so near Christmas. That said, I am taking a group of English kids to mainland Europe on the 27th of this month, doing four sets of Christmas markets and I am hoping to pick up some nice, unusual and hopefully cheap things as presents for family and friends. I’ve been saving up my cash from my tutoring, to turn into Euros.
      I think I made the mistake because I had a feeling you might be getting closer to getting your book project finished and “out there”
      Talking of which, very soon I will have some exciting news about mine…so keep tuning in…nearly ready!!!
      Your kind words have made me feel a bit better, so thank you again!

  6. Hey Viv,
    You’re not alone — I’m not what you would call a touchy-feely person either. Neither were my parents or brother. It’s something I always work on. My friends and other family members like to hug hello and goodbye. I was ok hugging family members but it took me awhile to get used to hugging friends hello/goodbye. There is a man who I’ve been close friends with for many many years. He used to work in my office. I considered him to be a very good friend and mentor. He knows I’m not a touchy-feely person. After his father’s funeral people were lined up outside to give him their condolences. I didn’t really know what to say so I gave him a big hug. Do you know that days later he ended up telling me he told some other person that I gave him a really good hug and he was wondering if the hug I gave him meant something. Sheesh! No, it didn’t mean anything like he was hoping. This is one of the reasons why I keep my distance.

    • Hiya!
      yes, it can give the wrong signals, at times. I think the younger generation(ie teens now) are much more touch-orientated and it means less to them, in some ways. I gather the guy was roughly the same generation as yourself?
      The advantage of hugs is not needing to say anything verbally; you say it all with the hug.

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