What is touch? The English dictionary describes it as “to come into or be in contact with”. But how would nature describe it? Is it such a plain and obvious verb?
From the very beginning of life, when a being is born, it is nurtured by the mother. Starting from the tweeting hatchlings and the crying cubs to the wailing infant or the silent baby sapling standing clumsily underneath the mother tree, each and every being craves for the motherly warmth. This immediate warmth and affection that instills the throbbing young heart is called touch. Touch is the common language that nature is born with. It brings automatic comfort to a new born. It is the language with which generations after generations, through ages have communicated. There is no alternative to it. The nursing of a new born and the raising of a child with love, care and affections, are all impossible without the parents coming in contact.
It has been found premature infant mortality rate is 30% to 40% when kept in an incubator. But a finger massage daily for few minutes can increase their chance of survival. That is the power of touch. It is one of the key factor for children’s growth, development and health.
Children growing up in orphanages suffer from developmental delay which ultimately leads to impaired growth and cognitive development. Thankfully the damages are reversed as they are placed in loving homes in future.
As life goes on and decades pass, the importance of physical touch acquires different meanings to one’s life. From craving to win our parents’ affections, it takes a toil to winning the heart of some other soul. Within two decades of one’s life, it becomes a desire, a tormenting one to control. It is the only way to carry on the existence of life. And then again when life is born from within, the parental touch develops and stands fearless to bring up the new born. When we look into the verb more carefully, we notice that the need for touch has been proved scientifically. A new born does not need to be taught how to touch. It is our common experience where we have seen that when we hold a baby’s finger, the baby immediately closes it and grasps onto it.
This shows that the new born connect through physical touch, which in turn emphasizes the importance of physical touch. Through researches it has been proved that even the abbreviated touch from another person can evoke strong emotions which can create positive emotions, memories or unwanted illicit actions. For example before leaving for work, a hug or a kiss or a lovely greeting from someone of our own makes our day. In an experiment, it has been observed that people who are brought up in warm climate are more comfortable with touching than those who are brought up in cold climate.
Touch is the most essential element in a relationship. Without touch, there can never be a successful relationship. We feel more connected when we touch somebody. A soft and warm touch lowers blood pressure and releases the hormone oxytocin which is often referred as “the love hormone”. This hormone can bring wondrous changes in an individual’s behaviour and ability. In a relationship touch bring to us automatic assurance and trust. According to the married couple Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz, “ to touch someone you love is to acknowledge their presence and to communicate your desire for them”. The Schmitz believe it’s “ the accumulation of touching” or as Guerrero asserts, it is the reciprocity of touch that increases intimacy and satisfaction.
In a relationship, touch comes in many forms. Holding hands, cuddling, kissing, hugging, massaging or even stroking hair or any other body parts is a form of touch. A warm hug or a slight nudge creates positive emotions. A mere hug can lower the level of stress hormones such as cortisol, thus proving the importance of physical touch.
Touch works miracles and turn odds to evens. For example, when you are in a fight with some friend or family member, if you forget everything just for five seconds and give an immediate hug to that person, and say “ I’m sorry I love you”, there is a 98% chance of the fight to stop within a minute. A soft touch can be the strongest act in this world.
In this era of super advanced technology, the need for touch is being suppressed by the sprouting projects of engineering. Electronic connection is replacing face to face connection thereby neglecting our desire and ability to experience physical connection. The electronic gestures of love and support through texts cannot be a substitute to face to face conversation. Yet we should not banish technology but use it as an aid to reconnect with lonely people.
The need for touch is a fundamental need throughout generations. In the teenage years of life, it is a vital requirement to emerge as a stable person. Severe touch hunger in early stages of development, can lead to a condition called, alexithymia, which is the inability to interpret or express emotions appropriately. It can also lead to an avoiding behavioral style or being fearful in social interaction. Teens who are touched more are less aggressive while those who are not touched, are withdrawal in nature and their voice inflection contour is flat.
It is a common nature in adults to receive some form of body massage whenever they are going through tough times. The reason here is because touch, automatically reduces stress and helps in stabilizing the blood flow in all the parts of the body. Again, greetings in the form of shaking hands or a tradition of bowing down and touching the elders feet in due respect observed in eastern India is to acknowledge presence and to facilitate connection irrespective of how good the person is or whether that person is of any help. The science behind it tells that every being possess both positive and negative charges in them. We know that positive charge flows towards the negative charge. So it is believed that when people touch their elders feet, automatically, the positive charge from the elder flows into the younger one who is paying respect. The charge is mainly in the form of best wishes.
In life when we hear an unfortunate news of some beloved in death bed sparing their last breath, we often try our best to make it and be by their side. And at the end we part with them by holding their hands and giving them the final hug and kiss. That last touch of a dying family member or a friend is priceless. It not just brings us mental and spiritual satisfaction but also pour upon us a lot of blessings. On the contrary it also helps the person prepare for the departure of this world and enter the next. After all it is the ultimate thing that every human desire at their final hour. Nothing in this world can replace that desire. To touch and to be touched is a blessing and a gift that God the creator of this entire universe, has bestowed upon us. We should use it positively to the fullest.
Suggested read: We Love These Love Quotes From P.S. I Love You
As said by Margaret Atwood,
“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language ,and the last, and it always tells the truth”.
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