The human hand is a biomechanical marvel, isn’t it? I live I a large city, and I look around at the architecture, the public art, the environments built onto the landscape and I think, “Human hands did this.” Hands with the same configuration of bones, muscles and tendons as mine.
Someone told me once that the human hand is designed to conform perfectly to every part of the human body. Our bodies were made to be touched. Our hands were designed to comfort. So the marvel extends from our hands to the entire body — pieces meant to fit together as we comfort, nurture and just relate to each other.
I thought of this last week when I was talking with a student who told me she hated being touched, but she really loved giving massages. Sadly, this was not the first time I had heard something like this. Like others before her, she was missing half of the equation for comfort. It is not just the touching, it is the being touched that constructs our humanity. When I tried to point this out, she shuddered — actually shuddered– as if the idea of being touched disgusted her.
I see her attitude as the extreme end of the spectrum of self-neglect many massage therapists live on. I am guilty of this myself — finding myself fatigued and emotional after an overscheduled week, wondering why my body will not cooperate with my need to overwork it. The work gives me joy and comfort, but when I neglect to make the time to receive, that joy and comfort fades too soon.
The human hand was designed to touch. The human body was designed to be touched. Living in half of this circle leads to imbalance. So, especially now when it is cold and dark, give and receive hugs, give and receive hand-holding, and, especially, give and receive massage.