What has more power than words? What can calm fear, relieve pain, improve mood, and enhance healing?
I'm not hinting at a drug.
Touch. Human touch.
Yet we have so much difficulty reaching out and touching each other. Our society somehow seems confused about touch, certain that it must be sexual. It isn't and doesn't.
Pushing myself too hard results on pain. Migraines knock me down and remind me I have real limitations. Wednesday I drove almost ten hours and did three intensive gigs. The math is easy. Migraine. It grew on the drive back, I breathed, worked at my neck as I could, drank water, slathered tiger balm and pinched points on my hands to reduce the severity. My eyes watered, Rosemary, riding with me could keep me calm and breathing until we got home. Once there I knew it was bad. My eyes watered, my speech was slow, thoughts like glaciers in a river of lava pushing through my skull. I went through options in my head.
Rosemary, skilled and amazing massage therapist said "Now, I can be in the proper position to address this." She gestured at the chair in front of her. I sat. She worked. Her fingers worked through pressure point patterns and cranial sacral work that no pill, no physician could have done. She silently unravelled something that would normally drop me for twelve hours or more. She made short work of the headache. The only side effect: gratitude and elation.
The next day, free from the prison sentence of pain by Rosemary's touch we headed to King's Sauna and Spa in Dallas. The reason I had pushed so hard: I'd wanted to get there to relax the night before and instead incapacitated myself.
I was still post migraine, nerves still raw and thinking about flaring because once angry the Dragon doesn't go down easily.
At the Spa they advertise scrubs, accupressure massage and other health enhancing treatments. I usually just use the sauna rooms and spend about twelve to sixteen hours soaking in herbal baths, steam rooms, and meditating. Sending out my thoughts and love, intentions of healing to all of my friends and family. Finding and undoing some of the barriers in my own heart and head.
This time, exhausted, I thought of what Danny would say and does say. Take care of yourself. I signed up for a scrub, not knowing I signed up for a truly healing experience.
Haimi smiled and retrieved me from the baths when it was time. Yes, I was nude. I laid down on her table face up. She scrubbed me from foot to neck, her hands in scrubbing mitts. They were like blood hounds rooting out every tight muscle, every area of dried skin. Her hands moved so fast piano players would be jealous. My tension flowed away. Emotional knots unravelled. This sweet, smiling, healing spirit worked as if it was effortless. She worked on each side then sent me to rinse off in the showers. She came and got me, amused because I followed habit and soaked up and had to rinse off again. Then she worked a peppermint oil into my scalp, working and releasing muscles there. She put a towel on my back, climbed up and did accupressure massage. My spine popped into place without a chiropractor, with the muscle work she did. She loosened tendons from head to foot, she found and dealt with trouble areas I hadn't known existed.
She put a collagen mask on my face after she gently massaged the muscles there.
Each touch calmed, released and healed. There was nothing sexual about it.
I found myself wondering why our society is so set on obsessing on touch being sexual. Why touch is so hard and taboo, when in reality it is easy and effective?
Danny's blood pressure goes up or he feels down, I don't even think about it I reach out and touch and massage.
How much anxiety, depression, pain would we suffer if we resorted to touch first rather than last?
Why not be brave enough to try it?
Haimi finished by peeling of the mask, working on my back and neck a little more and smiling. My happy ending was being free of any residual nerve inflammation and being full of peace and gratitude. The experience was far more profound, intimate and nurturing than sex. My muscles and nerves calmed and relaxed, I heard them as they said "Touch. We want touch like flowers want Sun. Need Sun. Need touch." Danny massaged me daily at home, we work on each other. Touch, constant and nurturing that improves mood, calms fears, enhances resiliency, releases stress, helps injuries heal and it is as necessary as vitamins.
My mind went back to a study in psychology done in Russian orphanages. There were babies dying without apparent cause. They were fed, they were kept clean. They were never held and rarely touched. They died. The psychological impact of too little physical contact was the death of them. By changing care and adding time each day for staff to hold the babies the death rate dropped. Held, not anything fancier than that.
Think about how often you touch others physically. How often do they touch you?
Consider times you've felt wonderful, during those times was there more physical contact with others, more trust?
The next time you are sore, pained, heavy hearted, anxious consider trading a simple hug or holding the hand of a friend, a platonic backrub, or if you have some cash or something to trade a professional massage.
Thank the massage therapists and body workers you meet for not being afraid to reach beyond society's screwed up over sexed obsessions to get down to the muscles and tendons, down to the accupressure points to truly heal one massage, one person at a time.
Thank you healers. Always. Thank you Rosemary and Haimi. Thank you.