Massage Therapist- A Professional Toucher

We have all seen it. You go out to dinner or an outing with friends. There, you see people sitting together and no one is talking to one another. They all have those handy pocket-sized computers in their hands. The THING we on average touch about 2,617 times a day—our cellphones! 

In a famed study, a researcher studied how many times friends touched each other while sitting at a café. He collected data around the world. In Mexico City, couples touched each other 185 times. In Paris, 115 times. In London, 0 times. In Gainesville, Fla., twice.

We live in a world where you can have conversations with total strangers in some of the farthest reaches of the planet via internet, yet we are a million miles away from the people right in front of us.

It really is amazing (not to mention completely inconsiderate and rude) that we have all become this way at the behest of technology. I love that I can Google ANYTHING and get a result to explain to me my question. Yet, I loathe having to talk to an Apple or Samsung logo to talk to my company.

Put down the phone and connect with who is in your space.  

Talking with friends about recent celebrity deaths due to suicide and we all had our suspicions as to why or how it happened. Truth is, I think a great deal of us have been close to that line at times and maybe even tap danced on it, but thankfully, you’re still here.

Although many of our ideas as to why or how it happened may not even be close to the truth of the matter. More importantly, we are having the discussion. We can help bring change to make things better. Notice I said ‘better,’ not fix.

I am not sure really sure how to fix anything, but I have some ideas on how we can be better.

It was Mother Teresa who said, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” How true is that? One thing I noticed we do not do as humans is touch. I mean, that good ole’ platonic hug, pat on the back or whatever helps your body make and release Oxytocin (the love hormone).

Oxytocin helps with a slew of things, such as fear and anxiety, mood and depression, improved empathy, bonding with others, and many more social aspects. However, in the world today, we are cut off from touching each other. That’s bad news! It means we are missing out on the easiest and best way this hormone is produced in our bodies!

In massage school, we discussed a study that was done in 1944 in the United States on 40 healthy newborn infants. Someone wanted to know if individuals could thrive alone on basic physiological needs without affection. All children were given their basic physiological needs but only half was given affection along with those physiological needs. On the half that were give affection, all survived. On the half that were deprived of touch or communication, half of the babies had died in four months’ time. Even after the experiment was halted, two more died despite being given stimulation again prior to death. The babies would stop trying to move, cry or change expression then death would shortly follow.

However horrible an idea this may’ve been, it was a real experiment with real results.

As infants, we desperately need human touch to thrive, even when all other needs are met. We still need touch and interactions with one another. We are a social animal, just like so many other social animals on this planet. Yet, somewhere and somehow we thought we did not need that touch or that social interaction as we aged; but we do or we fail to thrive and we can even die from it.

Recently, I saw someone refer to chiropractors, physical therapists, Gestalt therapists, Rolfers, the Alexander-technique and Feldenkrais people, massage therapists, martial arts and T'ai Chi Ch'uan instructors as professional touchers. People are out looking for us because they need that touch. Some even wait in physicians’ offices for a physical examination for ailments that have no organic cause—they wait to be touched. The article discussed how our mental anguishes many times make themselves physically present in our bodies as what we see as fatigued or over worked muscles.

Since becoming a massage therapist I have noticed my compassion for others has greatly increased. I am the same in some ways, but I feel like that I can have an attachment to another human being just based on the fact that we are two human beings trying to make it through the world. How much money you make, where you live, not even your political standpoint matter to me when you are on my table looking to have relief from aching muscles or even to just relax. I have always been a person that determines my feelings for another based on them as a person but even through massage, I can bypass all that to say you are a human in need of touch. I think we greatly underestimate the power touch has on one to another. Even as the one giving the touch, it is an experience. 

So let us put down our cellphones or whatever technology that is in the way when we have good company with us. Let us look in each other’s eyes, or at least in their general direction. Let us make sure that person who is with us feels like we are there connecting with them in a world that is so full of disconnect. Let us talk, like really talk to one another and feel that connection of socializing with one another and touch an arm, pat a back or even just a high five to one another. We need to change—our lives and the lives of those we love depend on it.

edit credits- Devon Dean


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