Why We Need Touch

“To touch is to give life” Michelangelo

The skin is our largest organ. Neurons in the skin process information about touch that offer feedback to our entire body and mind. The immune response lives in the skin and white blood cell activity increases when we receive touch. Touch quite literally fortifies our immune response and boosts our ability to heal.

Touch brings us to life and is fundamental to human communication, bonding and health. It is an integral way in which we communicate compassion. We transmit the quality of our awareness through touch. It is how our innate goodness can be expressed, felt and understood. Touch connects us so we feel supported within ourselves and by others.

Touch brings us into contact with our own humanity and that of others. Human development and growth is dependent upon feeling safe. Safety is derived from a sense of connection. Trauma and violence hijack our sense of safety and connection and can eventually compromise our health.

Research indicates that cardiovascular disease and alcoholism are associated more and more with feeling isolated and alone. In over a decade of teaching Reiki and practicing BodyTalk I've come to recognize many of our chronic and acute health issues are symptomatic of unresolved trauma stored in the body. Touch creates a sense of safety where trauma can heal along with our health issues.

A growing body of research points to the incredible emotional, mental and physical health benefits derived from touch. 

  • The Electricity of Touch experiment showed “when people touch or are in proximity, a transference of the electromagnetic energy produced by the heart occurs.” This research is a successful representation of measured energy exchange between two people. This can help substantiate the physiological and psychological effects of treatments like Reiki.
  • Data from The American Acadamy of Pediatrics suggest that tactile/kinesthetic stimulation may be a cost effective way of facilitating growth and behavioral organization even in very small preterm neonates.
  • Neurologist Edmund Rolls’ research shows that touch activates the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion. Touch builds cooperative relationships. This reinforces reciprocity, safety, trust and generosity. When we experience these soothing qualities it calms cardiovascular stress. As the system shifts from the perpetual fight or flight stress response it gives way to a natural state of being to support optimal performance. This is the space from which healing simply happens.
  • French psychologist Nicolas Gueguen’s study has shown that when teachers pat students in a friendly way they are three times as likely to speak up in class.
  • Proper use of touch can have profound affects on western medicine making it more cost effective and supporting its transformative potential. Research at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health has found that getting eye contact and a pat on the back from a doctor may boost survival rates of patients with complex diseases.
  • Studies also show that patients with Alzheimer’s who receive touch are more likely to relax, make emotional connections with others and experience fewer symptoms of depression.
  • Crawford, S.E., V.W. Leaver, and S.D. Mahoney (2006) shows that the use of Reiki can decrease memory and behavior problems in mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s Disease.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 12(9):911-913 demonstrated that four 30-minute Reiki treatments, once a week, significantly improved cognition skills in elderly patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment compared to patients who received no treatment.

We are literally wired to connect with one another through touch. Oxytocin “the love hormone” is released through touch. Clinical psychologist Carol Rinkleib states that oxytocin “creates feelings of calm and closeness.” With touch we feel more connected, less separate and supported as we are.

Touch is our instinctual response. When we hurt ourselves, without thinking, we touch to self soothe. This is our primary sense for healing and the only sense we cannot live without. When a child hurts themselves we kiss their wound to nurture and console. Touch seems to make it all better.

Reiki sessions help you shift out of the perpetual fight or flight stress response so you can heal naturally. Learning Reiki empowers you to heal with your own hands. BodyTalk is also a touch based healthcare system that stimulates our innate ability to heal. To learn more schedule a free 20 minute consult today.

RESOURCES

The Electricity of Touch
Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Professor Edmund T. Rolls
The effect of Touching
Hands on Touch UC Berkeley
Crawford, S.E., V.W. Leaver, and S.D. Mahoney (2006)
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Hospitals and Clinics that offer Reiki