Touch has a unique language of its own, to communicate our emotions which cannot be expressed in words always. A touch conveys loud and clear whether it’s love, care, anger, disgust, repulsion-everything! It helps us to express ourselves in our own ways-it could be a simple hug to our parents, to our child, a peck on the cheek of your child to let them know you are there, or just lying down on the lap of your mother to relax or, just holding friend’s hand while walking. It doesn’t need to be only romantic-it can be a purely pure touch of compassion which we keep experiencing throughout our life.
Nevertheless, due to the pandemic, we lost touch with the feel of the touch-maintain distance of 6 feet, wear your mask properly, don’t hug instead say namaste. Pandemic has changed the way we sense closeness and feeling of comfort with each other. It has taken away the most important human aspect of communication-Touch. It is far more profound than we usually realize.
No doubt, slowly we are in the process of going back to our normal lives but aren’t we still afraid of this new normal? We are not only avoiding any physical contact but some of us have become extremely anxious about closeness, even casually cuddling even if it’s your child or elderly parents or partner.
One of the primary means of communicating with a baby is through touch. Children learn through touch. Touch is the earliest form of sensory experience for a developing human being. Prenatally, the womb provides a constant sensation of being held. Postnatally, babies expect a similar level of feeling connected through the in-arms care of the mother and others. Experience of touch in early life influences the neurobiological development of multiple systems in mammals.
Attachment theory given by Bowlby suggests that touch from sensitive caregivers allows infants to feel safe and secure, and thus forms the basis of securely attached relationships later in life. Every day touch can bring emotional balance and better health. It is the primary language of compassion. Studies support physical and emotional health benefits due to touch.
We teach our children about good and bad touches. Why do we do that? Why is it necessary? Because it has a language and a feel. The moment someone touches us we get a feeling. It can be either feeling of warmth or repulsion. Bad touch gives such a feeling of repulsion and the child is taught to discriminate against such kind of touch. It is taught through role-play to make the child understand what we are trying to convey, to keep themselves safe from perpetrators.
Interpersonal touch is a fundamental but unvalued aspect of human nature. It has a powerful impact on our emotions. we can sense who’s touch comforts us because every person’s touch is different. Two people with the same emotions might not be able to generate the same kind of response from a particular person. For every touch differs and no two person’s touches can be matched.
Research suggests that even fleeting forms of touch may have a powerful impact on our emotional and social functioning. Women who reported frequent partner hugs display higher levels of oxytocin in their blood than women who report few partner hugs. The oxytocin enhancing effects of touch may reduce the discomfort that people experience from everyday stressors, such as family turmoil or conflict at work.
We forget many a time that touch is also a form of communication-non-verbal communication which needs to be nurtured in all relationships-between couples, mother-child, father-child, between siblings, grandparents, and all.
Yet, we don’t talk about the importance of touch-we just experience it and we try to learn its language on our own as no one talked about it in detail other than good and bad touch taught in school. Due to this mindset, it is just taken for granted. We don’t give importance to display of affection-just a gentle pat to a child says so much, hugging the child without any reason, child’s excitement to reach his mother to hug her tight because he won a medal doesn’t need any words.
Can you imagine how our lives would be without cuddles, hugs, sweet pecks on the cheek, holding hands, or just a pat on the back for encouragement?
It gives comfort, reassurance, a shoulder to cry on, a lap to lie on, it gives endless walk a hand to hold on. Just a hand on our head by an elder at difficult times gives us confidence that we all are together and we can fight back.
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