Use the Power and Potential of Touch

Use the Power and Potential of Touch

Here’s some skinny on the potential of touch for enriching relationships. Touch is often under-used and unappreciated, touch can add to your nonverbal repertoire as well as strengthen connections.  For example, a 2010 National Basketball Association study found that team members who touched in celebration of effective plays tended to be more cooperative and continuously successful.

If you can’t see yourself using high fives and fist bumps, try other means such as a gentle touch on the arm of someone you know fairly well.  Giving a hug is another choice; of course, context is crucial for such connection.  So use your intuition and common sense in using new ways to touch.  For additional information, see: Washington Post book review Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind by David J. Linden

Skin is the largest organ in the body and fastest growing.  There are about 19 million skin cells in one inch of most bodies; from that small location, 30-40,000 are sloughed off daily.  Add to this seeming miracle of renewal, is a symphony of 100o or so nerve endings interacting in every inch of skin.  They send messages of pleasure as well as pain.

More accessible than skin’s rapid regeneration is how it transmits the power and potential of touch.  Crucial for the development of babies and expressing caring affection, touch can efficiently enrich words and sentences as well as other ways to express yourself non verbally.

Understanding how the experience of touch varies from culture to culture provides opportunities for cross-fertilization and observation of new approaches.  In US culture, a typical, acceptable connection is shaking hands with occasional hugs between people well-known to one another.  Less reserved are people from Latin/Hispanic cultures. This is important to keep in mind since they represent 17% of the US population.  For engaging information about this, see the You Tube video – Cultural Etiquette and Touch.

Another example of the potential of touch is the increase of tips to servers who gently touch their patrons on the arm.  Doctors who touch patients are often considered more caring; stress levels may be reduced and outcomes improved, in fact.       

Even animals’ behavior offers examples to consider and possibly adapt. One tribe of our monkey cousins is particularly expressive and collaborative. Differing from typically aggressive actions of chimps, baboons, and other monkeys, Brazilian “charcoal” muriquis show the following behaviors in long-term, observational studies.  They:

  • consider and cooperate with one another, having rare squabbles
  • show affection, with little pats and cuddles
  • adapt to environmental shifts
  • engage in male bonding
  • hug when stressed

Females do not have to protect their young from males. Instead, they invite their  various partners, avoiding forced sex. For intriguing information about muriquis, go here — Smithsonian magazine

To translate ideas about touch that interest you from this blog and the links you explore, consider how you would experiment with the following to improve your quality of daily life.

  • What will you do today or tomorrow to express appropriate interest, concern, or engagement with another person?
  • What will you do today or tomorrow to use touch such as massage and other sensual activities for your own pleasure?
  • How can you sustain what appeals to you about these experiences and others you try over time?

 Whatever you choose to do to enrich how you connect with others through touch, you will likely enjoy new benefits.  Invoking the potential of touch can lead to making closer connections, engaging experiences, and transcending automatic, unvarying responses to others.

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