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Week 2, Mindful Touch

September 11, 2017

 

During my morning walk today, my shiny red iPhone7 clutched in my hand, I mused about all the ways my hands and therefore my sense of touch have been important in my life. Before telephones left our homes and became almost a body part, there were office machines called typewriters. Anyone in high school college prep or on track to work in an office took typewriting. We learned the Touch Method; that is, memorizing the home keys: a-s-d-f; j-k-l-semi - and taking typing speed tests regularly so we never had to look at the keys. In the 1980’s, plain old typewriters were replaced by electric and then electronic typewriters. In the 90’s, amazing machines called word processors appeared on our desks. But that was just another fad.  The advent of the personal computer with software that allowed us to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as store and manipulate data changed our business and personal lives for good. Even at that time, we would not have believed we would soon carry a telephone around in our hands that would also do those tasks, all without a cord. One element of the process has remained the same; most of us need our sense of touch to operate them. Voice technology is not quite there yet. Frankly, Siri doesn’t understand a word I say! So, for now, it’s our fingertips that do the talking. The sense of touch is not just in our fingertips however, it is in almost every inch of our skin, the largest organ in the human body. Special sensory neurons in the skin sense cold, heat, pleasure, and pain, protecting us from injury as well as enhancing our sense of well-being. This sensitivity of the skin makes it an insightful partner in mindful touch. The ways in which our sense of touch brings meaning, recognition, and pleasure into our awareness are not just physical.  Poet Diane Ackerman tells us “Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight.” The sensory neurons just beneath the skin often deliver an emotional context to our everyday experiences. Without a word, a friend can make us feel better with a light squeeze on the hand or arm around the shoulder. We greet new people or business associates with a handshake that brings us together as human beings. Sports teams create special hand signals to celebrate great plays. All of those physical gestures can change how we feel emotionally and become opportunities for mindfulness. Our sense of touch has the power to bring our physical and emotional feelings into balance. Writer Peter Alexandrou emphasizes the importance of our sense of touch in his online article at Infolific.com by calling it the key to our survival. Humans need to be touched. When we touch each other, we feel. When we feel, we can be mindful. When we are mindful, we pay attention to how we’re feeling without judging those feelings. We stay in the moment and love ourselves as we are.

Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we will ever do.

~ Brene Brown

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