During this time of “sheltering at home,” it’s challenging to be an extrovert living alone. I’m usually stimulated by people, ideas, and activities. Staying home with my five-pound Papillon, Chloe, is a challenge, to say the least! Chloe doesn’t say much, but she is quite entertaining! During this “quality time alone,” I have realized just how important human touch is. I have been a massage therapist for almost 28 years and the owner of Sage School of Massage & Esthetics for 15 years in June.
Touch Heals Physical and Emotional Pain
During my career as a massage therapist, it has been my privilege to utilize skilled touch to help clients. I help them decrease physical pain and restore range of motion in their movement patterns. Often clients were in automobile accidents, experienced traumatic injuries, or experienced repetitive strain patterns from their daily jobs. Therapeutic massage therapy not only helped my clients out of physical pain but often assisted them through their emotional pain.
Those who have fractured an elbow or broken a leg know that physical trauma is only half of the equation. Emotionally, the life and movement that we took for granted is no longer the same. We can no longer comb our hair, drive our cars, or function as we did. This often results in depression, anger, hopelessness, and even self-pity. Getting weekly deep therapeutic massages from a massage therapist provided relief from my pain. It also enabled more range of motion in my elbow joint. Emotionally, it helped me feel like someone cared about me.
Technology and Connection
During this pandemic, many of us have been forced to learn new online technology and communicating through Zoom meetings. I was also required to jump in to learn to teach my classes online, as a dinosaur to technology myself. To my amazement, it is pretty cool and actually fun! Not only did I see my student’s faces, but also their pajamas, kids, dogs, and cats! It is surprisingly rewarding. I would not have experienced this new way of communicating without being forced into it. Often, great opportunities come out of challenges! Having an open heart and mind will serve us well.
Although today’s incredible technology plays a major role in connecting us, it will never replace our basic need for touch. The HeartMath Institute conducted intriguing research on how the human heart’s magnetic field radiates outside the body and affects others. The idea of energy exchange between individuals is at the core of many healing techniques. Western Science has often disputed this concept due to not having scientific evidence to explain how this energy exchange actually takes place.
The Energies of Human Touch
William Collinge, Ph.D., in his book, Subtle Energy: Awakening to the Unseen Forces in Our Lives, tells of some fascinating breakthroughs discovered at the Institute of HeartMath in understanding the energetics of touch. Did you know that the human heart generates the strongest electromagnetic field produced by the body? This discovery led Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., and his colleagues on a journey to find out if our heart energy fields are detectable on the surface of another person’s body. Since this electromagnetic energy can be measured, does this energy field become measurable when people are close to one another or when they are actually touching?
One study involved wiring pairs of subjects up to electrodes and having them sit five feet apart. The researchers found that one person’s heart energy waves (electrocardiogram output) were not detectable by the electrodes on the surface of the other person’s body at that distance. However, when they were holding hands, each person’s heart energy waves were observed on the surface of the other’s body, and even in the other’s brain waves.
Researchers then wondered whether what was picked up was being radiated through the air from the first person’s heart or was being conducted like a wire conducts electricity, through skin contact. When one person touched the other person, wearing latex gloves, the signal was still present but was only one-tenth as potent. Results showed that skin to skin contact plays an essential role in facilitating the signal transfer. Data clearly shows that when people touch or are in close proximity to each other, a transference of energy by the heart does occur.
Helping Others is a Gift!
Human touch is vital to my life, and I believe to all human beings. My friend Rose said, “God is giving us all a “time-out.” Perhaps this temporary season of staying home, sacrificing our needs for the lives of others, is an opportunity to contemplate what truly matters in our own lives and our careers. Helping people feel better is a gift. I am grateful every day for my fulfilling career as a massage therapist!
I look forward to many hugs and lots of human touch when we can socialize once again.
Deby Grant is the founder and owner of Sage School of Massage & Esthetics in Bend, Oregon educating students in the art and science of massage therapy and esthetics since 2006. The school’s holistic education focuses on health and wellness.