There is a feeling that comes over us when we’re being cared for. A warmth that floods our senses when someone is devoting their complete attention to our health. A vibration that courses through the body. An inner sigh of relief.
The phenomenon of human touch is at the heart of the healing traditions we work with, yet many take it for granted. We sometimes construe the word “touch” to be something overtly sexual, but what about the helping and healing kind?
Our hands are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. Whether you are a Siberian shaman, Reiki healer, or QiGong master, awareness in your palms and fingertips is an unspoken job requirement.
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My good friend Dr. Rosita Arvigo, founder of Maya Abdominal Therapy, captures the power of touch perfectly in her book entitled “Sastun,” when she says:
“My hands could see through flesh and tissue. Of this I had no doubt.”
We all have them, most of us two. Knuckled and nailed, lined and printed, our hands are incredibly complex precision instruments. But through years of repetitive practical use, they have become so fine-tuned and efficient that their intelligence often goes unnoticed.
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For me, the curative power of the hands was revealed in the most unlikely of circumstances – during my first Ayahuasca ceremony.
If you haven’t worked with Ayahuasca, the experience can be extremely euphoric, but more often than not, there is far more work than play during this eight-hour spiritual saga. This ancient Amazonian ritual is a marathon of the soul where deep fears and illusions are confronted – and it isn’t always pretty.
We were about an hour into the ceremony and I was struggling, to put it mildly. I was caught in an existential tailspin that went on for what seemed like an eternity – until a sharp pain in my right foot brought me back into the room for a moment. I had strained it while running, and there was some lingering pain that had not yet abated.
My eyes, which had been shut tight for over an hour, slowly opened into the darkened room. The world was still loud and dizzying, but I had regained some footing, at least for a second. I looked down in the direction of the pain and was somewhat shocked to see that my injured foot was glowing a faint blue in the blackness.
Without thinking, I lifted my right hand to my face and somehow “turned it on.” How did I know it was turned on? Because it began to glow as well – white this time. With childlike innocence I placed the glowing hand on my throbbing foot and decided to make the pain stop. It was as simple as that. The dull ache dissolved within seconds and the foot hasn’t bothered me in the many years since.
“The hand becomes an eye that fuses all five senses and sees things whole.”
~ Lee U-fan, Contemporary Korean Artist
We all have power in our fingertips that is just waiting to be harnessed to aid others. It seems bizarre to be extolling the importance of such an obvious human action, but I think that many of us have forgotten the magic that exists within our hands.
The human hand is blessed with its own intelligence and familiarity with the subtleties of the body – and this understanding can be used for many purposes. It can harm, hide, hammer, and hoist. But perhaps most importantly, it can heal.
Whether it’s muscular, skeletal, energetic, or otherwise, knowing when someone is in need of touch is an extremely valuable skill. And we all are capable of learning it. Better yet, remembering it.
“You possess the ability to tap a bottomless well of physical and psychic energy…. With it, you can harness the magical power of the universe. Yet most of us unknowingly block the flow of this power, and live out our lives not reaching the potential that we could achieve if we only knew how.”
~ L.V. Carnie, Author of Chi Gung
I encourage you to explore the possibility of allowing your hands to do more than navigate your day-to-day landscape. Even something as basic as a shoulder rub can be extremely beneficial if given with full presence. When we let our world go quiet and truly tune in to the health of another, subtle understandings – bits of healing code – become available to us. This is where the breakthroughs happen.
The concept of touch is a very delicate topic for many, and I hope I have navigated it respectfully and in a manner that serves. Stay curious.