Let’s talk about touch

Given that reflexology is a touch therapy, it is hardly surprising that I spend lot of time thinking about how touch impacts the body. It is perhaps a sense that we don’t consider as important as say seeing and hearing, and yet it is an incredibly powerful communicator. I recently shared this article on my Facebook page highlighting the significant benefits of touch. It mentions that parents who were taught to massage their sick children were also soothed by the practice. I often tell clients that the next best thing to receiving reflexology is giving it, and that I benefit from the connection as much as they do.
This week, a couple of incidents regarding touch caught my attention in particular. A few days ago, I attended a yoga class and noticed a man and woman come in and set up their mats closely together. It turned out that the male student was blind and deaf and so could not follow the instruction of the teacher. Instead, he waited for his partner to move into the poses, then quickly traced her shape with his hand before moving into the postures himself. Occasionally the woman would correct him by gently placing his hand on her back or re-positioning his arms and legs, but all communication between them was through touch – and it was certainly touching and remarkable to witness this exchange of information.
On a more public stage, nobody can have escaped the controversy caused in the political arena since the speech given at the DNC by Khizr Khan, an American Muslim whose son was killed in Iraq. Yesterday I heard an interview with Mr Khan on NPR. Putting politics aside, I was struck by his response to a question about how he thought his son would have reacted to his decision to speak. Mr Khan answered that he believed his son would have done what they always did in greeting each other, by placing his left hand on his father’s left shoulder. He explained that they used this gesture out of love, because the left side of the body is where the heart lies, one simple touch that communicated everything that needed to be said.
We seem to living through a time of heightened hostility and anger, where barriers and differences between people are increasingly separating us from one another. Touch is too often placed in a negative connotation, denoting aggression or inappropriate behavior, but without wishing to appear trite, I can’t help wonder how much reaching out a hand could begin to help us all communicate better, and to express ourselves more fully with compassion and understanding.

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ARCB Certified Reflexologist

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