How are we nourished? Let me count the ways… food of course, water and sun, earth and all it supports, trees that breathe with us, sound, energy fields big and small, other living beings and… people.
As a human, how do we receive that which sustains us? Food first arrives as smell and taste before we take it into our bodies to digest. Sensation also plays a major factor in social and emotional nurturing - and is critical to our experience of life.
Skin is the largest organ in our body. Technically it’s part of the immune system; a literal barrier protecting and insulating us from the outside world. Yet it’s also one of our biggest sensory inputs, with receptors for temperature, pain, pressure, touch and vibration. Who doesn’t love the feeling of wind blowing through their hair? Amazingly, a single fingertip has more than 3,000 touch receptors, and lips have around a million nerve endings.
The somatosensory system is responsible for all the sensations we feel, and informs us where we are located in space (proprioception). It’s our nervous system in direct contact with the world, which is why touch is so important to health.
Studies show that infants do not thrive without touch. Loneliness and isolation are now categorized as health issues. As contact with another person usually includes touch (if only just a handshake) it becomes critical to our well-being. When we are stressed blood pressure, heart rate, and inflammation increases. The neurochemical changes from touch calms the nervous system and reduces those affects. It also creates a release of oxytocin, the bonding and love hormone.
We artificially create some of those positive effects when we swaddle an infant (or put a thundershirt on an anxious dog.) Weighted blankets serve the same purpose; they hold and contain us for a feeling of safety when we are over-stimulated.
The best kind of touch commonly available is - a hug! Apparently the bare minimum is four hugs (at least 7 seconds long). Eight hugs will do to maintain mental and emotional stability. If you really want to thrive, you should be getting/giving twelve hugs a day! The best kind is when someone runs up to another person (maybe excited to see them after an absence) and is lifted up and swung around (like that famous WWII V-day picture in Times Square.) Think of the full-body sensation a gleeful child feels being lifted up to the shoulders, or held by the ankles and swung around!
My own take on the best hug is one that is heart-to-heart. If you move your body slightly to the right side as you hug, your hearts are in close contact. The heart is the most powerful source of electromagnetic energy in the body (60 times greater in amplitude than the brain.)
Our palms, like our fingertips, are incredibly sensitive. We start to sense energy this way - kinesthetically - in healing class. Even with the hand at a short distance above or beside the body, you can sense the vibrations and shapes of energy forms.
How many hugs do you get a day? Daily hugs should be thought of as an essential nutrient, along with all the ways we touch and are touched by the world.
Peace, love and healing -
Want to start sensing energy, kinesthetically? It’s where we start in my energy healing courses.
Thanks to artofbrilliance.co.uk for their hug quantifiers.