Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Power of Touch

Once upon a time, before I went to massage school, I was average on the touchy-feely scale for an American. I shook hands when I met people, hugged my family members, and occasionally, very good friends and I would trade back rubs. Most touching was reserved for a sweetheart. I think this is how most Americans relate to touch; we accept that it's not proper to engage in touchy activities unless there is a significant emotional bond.

During massage school, I learned an incredible amount about how important touch is to our health. Not only emotionally, but physiologically necessary for development through infancy and childhood and maintaining health as adults.

Somewhere in the schooling process, I became intimidated by touch and the power that it could invoke. I became more conservative in when and how I touched my friends and family. As I furthered my massage career, I became less "touchy" and wasn't even much of a hugger. I spent my whole work day touching people and the last thing I wanted in my time off was for more physical contact with people. Periodically, I would take an extended period of time off from doing massage, and I would notice a craving for touch return.

It wasn't until I took my first watsu lesson that I noticed what was missing from regular massage. During a watsu session, I cradle my guest in my arms and, at times, I will use other parts of my body to float or position them. It was these non-therapeutic contact points that created a loop. I was getting touch, too, instead of just giving it. I found that I could incorporate massage into my watsu treatments and not feel drained afterward. Giving a watsu treatment is just as relaxing as receiving one!

Learning watsu opened me up to touch, again. Now I am quite touchy in my daily life. With more touch coming in, I find it easier to give touch back out. Interesting that it is more important what kind of touch one receives that the amount.

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