Tonight as I was laying in bed with my 4 year old son, I was reminded about how badly we need touch. I was on my own for bedtime tonight and he impatiently waited until his brother fell asleep so that I would lay with him and give him some much needed snuggles. As I played with his hair and his eyes grew heavy, I thought to myself that he just needed to be touched.
We all need to be touched.
As a 4 year old, he is not afraid to tell me what types of touch feel good to him. He might demand that I scratch his back before I remind him to ask nicely, or tonight he instructed me to tuck his hair behind his ear because that is what felt good. If he lays on my massage table he will flop from belly to back, back to belly and tell me where to massage and some nights as he struggles to settle down, he will tell me to gently compress his arms and legs before he soon drifts off to sleep. He asks for what his body needs.
At some point we lose this. We still need to be touched, but we won't ask for it very often. It's not uncommon for me to have a client on my massage table and as I'm massaging their back or their neck they will say "oh that feels so good". It reminds me of when I was little and my mom woulds scratch my back or play with my hair and it would send shivers down my spine and it just felt so good.
Clients often won't speak up if they want more or less pressure, despite my asking them to please tell me if they would like one or the other. Every now and then clients will tell me that I found "the spot" and I know how it feels to have that place massaged. When a therapist finds "the spot" and uses the right amount of pressure, you want them to stay there, but we are often afraid to ask for them to do just that.
Touch is so important and can do so many things. Touch helps brain development in infants. Touch also helps individuals with dementia. It can bring comfort when we are hurting, it can reduce physical pain when used therapeutically, it can make someone who feels lonely feel a little less alone. It's used to express love and share in joy. Yet so many of us can go through an entire day without being touched (unless you're a mom of young children, then you may receive too much touch).
When you come into your massage session, you are recognizing that need for touch. You are allowing me, as your therapist to care for you for a short period of time and maybe my touch brings you pain relief, maybe it makes you feel cared for, maybe it reduces your anxiety, maybe it brings you comfort, maybe it is the only time you are ever touched in a way that is nurturing. During that time, it's okay to ask for what your body needs (as long as it remains professional and appropriate). It's okay to ask me to spend more time on one area of your body or to ask me to adjust the pressure that I'm using. It's okay to talk and it's also okay to just melt into your time and be silent. It's okay to let go of some of your inhibitions, though flopping from your belly to back and back to your belly like my 4 year old may become a bit disruptive and disjointed ;) .
Allow yourself to receive and benefit from the power of touch. Touch is not something we need to shy away from or avoid. And yes, I understand that in today's world, touch is not always welcomed and most feel like they have to exercise caution when utilizing touch. That doesn't mean that touch is bad, in fact it can be incredibly therapeutic when used appropriately.
We all need to be touched.