When I was about 10 years old, my mother and my aunt belonged to a women’s meditation group. They would take me and my cousins along, and we had to play quietly while the group of women meditated in the other room. When I was a teenager, many of these women had become Reiki trained, their Reiki Master had been among the original group of meditators. These lovely women were on the leading edge of energy medicine.
There were always women with their loving hands offering support. If I had a headache, someone would lay their hands over my head. If I had cramps, there were hands on my low back and abdomen. If I was heart broken, there were loving hands over my heart. I didn’t think much about it at the time.
These women offered their hands the way some people offer an aspirin. It was explained to me in this way: when you hurt yourself, the natural response is to bring your hands to the injured area. When you have a headache, you rub your temples or the base of your skull. When your heart hurts, people offer a hug. Touch has the power to bring energy and awareness to the tissue–or the issue. Even though I hadn’t studied energy dynamics, nor reviewed studies. This sounded plausible enough, so I let them lay their hands on me, and whatever the ailment, I always felt better.
When I moved to Hawaii at the age of 18, I was striking out on my own. I moved to a strange city, and suddenly had a very small network. And in a very short time, I realized that I was touch deprived. It was a stark contrast to the ever present hands of the circle of women my mother called friends.
After my mom passed I learned that my cousin had become reiki trained, by the same Reiki Master that trained both of our mothers. In 2006, I trained under the same Master, Judy Stephenson. At the end of that amazing intensive I knew I wanted to share healing touch. I did my research, and if I wanted to be able to do it as a calling / my profession I would need to be minister or a licensed massage therapist. I needed a license to touch!
I was fired from a job a few months later, which led to that quintessential soul searching… This was the door of opportunity that I needed to go back to school. In 2008, I became a Licensed Massage Therapist.
Touch is essential for our well-being. Touch is the corner stone of being connected to each other in community, shaking hands, offering a supportive hug, pat on the back, a celebratory high five! Offering a hand to hold during a challenging time is part of being a compassionate human connecting with others.
There are studies that illustrate the power of touch. Studies that reflect that laying your hands on the long bones of the legs increases red blood cell count. Studies that show that even 5 minutes of a hand massage can lower blood pressure.
I probably don’t need to quote studies to remind you… I bet that you have a story of the power of touch in your life. I look forward to hearing it, when we meet.