I recently learned that Thai Yoga Massage is considered a healing practice just through the form of being touched from someone’s heart. The practitioner’s touch is done through the act of unconditional loving-kindness known as Metta. By touching from the heart rather than the mind, love is transmitted through the massage and is said to be the most powerful healing energy. I can remember 3 distinct moments in my life that the simple act of reaching out and laying a gentle hand on me resulted in such a calming effect when my stress level seemed to be at an all-time high. The circumstances were very different in each case and the people ranged from a stranger to a very close friend. Each happened approximately 10-years apart from one another but I can still remember the power of each touch as a grounding and calming effect. I believe that the reason I remember these particular 3 touches so well is because each giver was touching me from their heart. These touches stopped the stress response with loving-kindness.
Children are no different, especially when their thoughts are stuck in the irrational part of their brain. This is the perfect tactic to use on a child having a temper tantrum. Of course you want to stay firm and not give in to the tantrum, but maybe…just maybe you can bring them out of the tantrum with loving-kindness. I remember when a fight had ensued between my husband and my then 4 year-old son. I was standing back and letting my husband deal with the situation. That was until it raged into a huge battle of wills and neither was going to back down. He hauled that child over his shoulder and was taking him to his room as punishment. The boy got free and a struggle started between the two. The anguish in my son’s face was unbearable and the mother’s instinct to reach out to him was too strong. But what happened next shocked even my husband. My son dissolved into my arms and the simple act of touch and being held calmed him right down (yes, I still took him to his room for his punishment).
There is something about the simple act of being touched that can create a multitude of feelings. Of course the greatest feeling is of being loved. A mother’s touch to her baby is what comes to my mind when I think of a loving touch. This was very important to me with my first child and I was more eager to sign up for the “Baby Massage” class than I was for the birthing class. I wanted him to know that I loved him through these calming and bonding moments that can only come from the heart. My sons are 11 and 7 years-old now and they still ask for massages before bed or when they are stressed. I massage them for various reasons ranging from relaxing muscles after sports, calming down after a stressful day, and helping the Lymphatic System during cold and flu season.
In our busy lives, don’t forget this power of touch and don’t forget to let it come from your heart. Perhaps some of you already know that, and perhaps some of you just had forgotten. It ok to reach out even to a stranger for that squeeze of loving-kindness, that gentle reassurance that relaxes the mind and may change someone’s life with a healing they didn’t expect. Teach this to our children in a world of “keep your hands to yourself.” Don’t only teach them “hands are not for hitting” but hands are also for speaking to another human being, speaking from our heart space, speaking from loving kindness. By doing this we can achieve our goal of changing the world, one child at a time.