Inner Peace: Transmitting Inner Peace Through Touch
Ashland Daily Tidings
July 17, 2015
It was 1976. I heard my baby wailing as the nurse carried her into the room after my Caesarean section. The second my daughter was placed in my arms, her crying stopped. A sweet cooing sound filled the silence and my heart. It was amazing to witness her instinctively knowing who her mom was. No words were necessary. Love was transmitted purely in that connecting touch and familiarity. Peace settled into our cozy connection like warm water running over a cold hand.
The day my Mom died I went to my special place in the forest that she had visited many times and loved. Her presence came and stood by me. I could hear her voice — not with my ears, but inside my inner world. I knew it was her. “Janai, I wish I could touch you,” I heard her say.
In her dying process she wanted to have her hand held frequently. That loving touch let her feel she was not alone. Now she no longer had a body, yet it was unmistakable that she was standing next to me. I cried. And I responded out loud, “Mom, now is the time we can touch each other with our hearts.”
The physical touch is very powerful. When we lose it, we know just how much inner peace it generates.
In 1962, at my maternal grandmother’s funeral in Wildwood, Fla., I was 12 years old and in shock. Death had never touched my life. Everyone was caught up in their own grief. I remember wishing someone would sit next to me who loved me. My shoulders shook as I cried. I longed for a hug. Instead, I was given half a tranquilizer. It did not bring comfort. I continued crying alone in a sea of people. Someone’s caring touch was the medicine I needed to bring relief and inner peace in accepting the death of a family member.
My grandson was upset when his dog died. Telling me about it, he leaned on me and I shared words of compassion, stroking his hair, gently patting his back and hugging him. The touch allowed him to feel comforted and to know his experience was shared. He knew I understood and felt for him and his loss which brought a peaceful feeling which could be seen in his eyes.
Recently, my granddaughter reached out in a theater to hold my hand during a scary part of the movie. In the flickering dim light I could see her facial muscles tensing. Once my hand was holding hers, her face softened. A caring touch brought peace to her whole body.
A fascinating study occurred in 1986 at the Touch Research Institute ( https://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/InfantMassage.html). Infants who experienced massage therapy compared to infants in the rocking control group spent more time in active awake states, cried less and had lower cortisol levels, suggesting lower stress.
Over the six-week period, the massage-therapy infants gained more weight, showed greater improvement on emotionality, sociability, and soothing temperament dimensions with greater decreases in stress neurotransmitters/hormones (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol). (Field, T., Grizzle, N., Scafidi, F. Abrams, S., Richardson, S., Kuhn, C., & Schanberg, S. (1996). Massage therapy for infants of depressed mothers. Infant Behavior and Development, 19, 107-112.)
Tiffany Field, a pioneer in the science of touch research, did a study in 1986 comparing 20 preterm babies with a group of 20 control preterm babies. Using the Brazelton scale performance, she stimulated and massaged the babies for three 15-minute periods per day. Her conclusion: gentle touch or massage to pre-term newborns increased a healthy weight gain improving health of the child, lowering health care costs since the massaged babies were discharged earlier than babies who did not receive massage. Her studies helped corroborate that massage therapy enhances attentiveness, alleviates depression, reduces pain, lowers stress hormones and improves immune function not only for babies, but also for adolescents and the elderly.
The beauty of touch bringing inner peace is that we all have the power to give and receive it.
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