When grandma came to visit, she offered an extra ear to whisper into, extra eyes to watch over us and extra hands to tuck us in at night. At bedtime, she would listen to our prayers, settle the covers around us and rub our backs as we drifted off to sleep. Those back rubs were in high demand in our household.
This summer, I’ve had the privilege of tucking my grandchildren into their beds. Some nights, the five year old has a difficult time falling asleep. He is a deep thinker and lets his mind wander and linger on thoughts when he should be sleeping.
One night, after settling the covers over him, I told my grandson about my grandma and how she would rub my back at night. I started rubbing his back as I shared stories about her. As I talked and rubbed I could feel his muscles relax and sensed the quieting of his mind. As he calmed, I sat silently rubbing his back while thinking about long ago days when I was on the receiving end of one of these back rubs. As he drifted off to sleep, I continued to rub his back. Why? Touch is a two way street. That simple back rub was as relaxing for me as it was for my grandson.
An excerpt from The Power of Touch in Psychology Today succinctly highlights the benefits of reaching out and sharing a loving touch:
“Every evening at bedtime, DePauw’s Hertenstein gives his young son a back rub. “It’s a bonding opportunity for the two of us. Oxytocin levels go up, heart rates go down, all these wonderful things that you can’t see.” Moments like these also reveal the reciprocal nature of touch, he says: “You can’t touch without being touched. A lot of those same beneficial physiological consequences happen to me, the person doing the touching.””
Grandma taught me the power of a loving touch and I have never forgotten that long ago lesson. As an adult, when visiting her in the nursing home, I would remind our children to reach out and touch this wonderful woman. During our visit, one or more of us would be holding her hand, rubbing her back, massaging her arms, brushing her hair… anything we could do to convey our love via the sense of touch.
Touch. So simple. So necessary. Make an effort to reach out and physically touch those you love.
Follow the links below to jump start your very own touch therapy:
- How to Give a Quick Back Rub ~ from Patch Adams’ Gesundheit Institute
- How to Give a Hand Massage: The Best Free Gift Ever by Pam Gaulin
- Give a Great Foot Massage ~ from SHEKNOWS Beauty