Learning The Language Of Touch

People need touches to thrive psychologically. In cultures where infant affection
is low, levels of violence are high. Twelve times a day the average American woman
touches someone. For the average man, it's eight touches. Despite the fact that
people like to touch and to be touched, most people are touch illiterates. They think
that touching is permissible only in matters of sex and fighting.
T he more you touch people in a proper way, the more they touch you back.
Proper touching can be learned. The vocabulary of touching is transmitted through
handshakes, pats, hugs, caresses, rubs, pinches, squeezes, kisses, strokes and
brushes. The meanings can reflect simple greetings, affection, fear, sexual desire,
etc. Studies have revealed that recipients of even momentary touches in acceptable
situations experience positive feelings about themselves and the individuals touching
them, but many times they didn't even recall being touched.
Sometimes touching is used as a form of manipulation. A young man encounters
a young woman who appears to like him, and she reflects this in a touching manner
while conversing with him. The toucher has learned that this momentary contact
produces good feelings in the recipient, and she plays it for all it is worth. The fond
feelings that the young man begins to exhibit are not returned, and confusion results.
Understanding how touching affects you is better than misinterpreting it. Through
touch, the powerful life energy of a strong, loving person will 'naturally' flow into
the field of a weak, low energy person (see the “life energy” measuring device in the
back pages of this book ). When you touch someone with the intention to benefit
them, you often evoke similar, positive emotions in them, and a therapeutic effect can
Dr. Delores Krieger, a professor of nursing at New York University made some
breakthroughs with the technique of “laying-on-of-hands,” later known as therapeutic
touch. Because there is an exchange of energy through the power of touch, her
research showed that patients in hospitals recovered faster when they were touched in
a caring way by friends, relatives or nurse attendants. The healing energy
exchanged was improved by a more positive attitude of the givers (see “Exercise --
Increase Your Energy, Increase Your Health”). Patients were also healed faster when
they expressed an abundance of self-love and self-appreciation.
One experiment where parents were instructed to massage their newborn babies
for 15 minutes every day with slow, pressured stroking resulted after 3 months in
babies that were less irritable and with a more even temperament than a group of babies that did not have the daily massage. A calmer disposition in a baby also brings
about automatic self-management in regulating stress hormones of the brain.
Often there is an aversion to any touching contact between people because of the
concern about maintaining a certain image to onlookers. This phobic behavior should
be examined and understood. To learn a better touch vocabulary with people, observe
what kind of touches make you feel good and which don't make you feel good.
Learn the taboos - don't touch acquaintances or strangers unexpectedly; don't touch
friends if interrupting an important activity; don't move or nudge someone aside
abruptly; and don't aggressively grab a friend without warning.
As an exercise during the following week, each day make some sort of physical
contact with people as you talk with them. Use hand shakes, hugs and simple
touching contact without discriminating on the basis of sex. Embrace or kiss friends
and relatives to say hello and good-bye. Become consciously aware of and use the
same kind of gentleness whether you hug men or women.
To further accustom yourself with tactile contact, go to a masseur or a masseuse.
Exchange massages with friends. Because massage increases the fluid flow in the
blood and lymphatic systems, massage shouldn't be used on people with phlebitis,
thrombosis, high fevers, infectious diseases, some types of cancers, areas of
hemorrhage or heavy tissue damage, and fractures and sprains less than 24 hours old.
As a variation to massage, lightly stroke a friend's back and body for 15 minutes
and then have them reciprocate. The next opportunity you have for sexual intimacy,
choose instead to touch, stroke, hug, bathe and mutually massage each other. The
more you understand the language of tactile contact, the more you begin to
understand yourself and others.