For many years, I was a massage therapist, among other things. For me, massage was never as much a clinical application as a prayer, a blessing, a sacrament. My favorite massages were the ones in which I could pour out my love through my hands. Kneading, caressing, stroking, holding, sometimes simply allowing my hands to rest lightly and emit love…. This is one of the things I was born to do.
How do you define healer? Literally, it would appear to mean “one who heals,” which many people would interpret to mean “one who cures.” And this is why I find myself reluctant to use the term. However, if we define healer as “one who helps facilitate healing,” then I am more comfortable with that title. I am certainly more a healer than an accountant or a gas station attendant or a lawyer. I think I prefer to think of myself more as a curandera or a priestess – someone who recognizes the sacredness of the healing process. For me, touch is not a clinical, mechanical, or even necessarily a physical process, it is spiritual; it is sacred.
Have you ever noticed it is possible to lie with our words, if we choose, but it is very difficult to lie with our hands. If we have mal-intent or rage or hatred, we cannot touch with gentleness. Underlying feelings come through during touch. When one is touched with love and compassion, one can truly let go into the wonder and grace of being. One can feel safe. One can feel nurtured. It is a deep blessing to be touched with love.
I recently offered a massage to a friend who was very kind to me a few weeks ago. At the time I had no money to offer to her for generously giving me a ride, providing me with food and her very fine company. So I offered something I did have. My hands.
What a blessing to give a massage to someone who was so deeply receptive. What a blessing to massage someone who felt the sanctity of the space that was created and the love and gratitude within my hands. Touch provides a bond and a message often stronger than mere words.
Most of us have, by now, heard the stories of how babies deprived of touch weaken or die. We also know that when twins are born and one is sick, she miraculously gets better when placed in an incubator with her twin, where they can embrace one another. And if you studied psychology in college, no doubt you were exposed to the study of baby monkeys who, when given the chance, would far rather cling to the soft furry object in the corner of one cage than the bottle in the other.
As humans, touch is one of our most basic needs. And yet there are likely hundreds of thousands of people who live alone – particularly in the United States, who have no lover, no partner, not even a child or parent or sibling with whom to live. Perhaps they are very old and all their friends have died. Or teenagers – especially boys, who feel the need to act tough and cannot allow themselves the “weakness” of showing they crave touch. I ache to think of all these sad lives without the touch of a caring hand or an embrace.
I think the world would be an infinitely happier and more peaceful place if we were all touched more. I have often fantasized about a bumper sticker which reads “World Peace through Massage.” If the leaders of our world were daily touched by someone with great love and compassion, I am willing to bet there would be less war.
Let’s not forget to touch those whom we love. Touch is one of our most powerful gifts and blessings.