Friday, 29 August 2008

The Four Levels of Touch in Massage Therapy

Touch is considered one of our most basic needs. Many times, we can tell the difference between a "good touch" and a "bad touch." Do not be misled into thinking that these kinds of touch are purely sexual in nature. When we go to a professional massage therapist or body worker, we can detect something special about his/her quality of touch. However, it can be difficult to explain what makes his/her type of touch so unique. For the massage therapy client, it is helpful to know the four levels of touch:

  • spiritual
  • mental
  • emotional
  • physical

On the spiritual level, our touch can be driven from our nature in ways that connect our spirit to something else and emphasizes our innate connection with our environment. When we pick up a baby, for instance, we can convey essential qualities like love, compassion, clarity, strength, and peace in the touch we give to that person. On the receiving end of touch, we can connect with our essential natures as well as with the Universal Intelligence, the Great Being that created the universe....God if you will. During or after bodywork, massage therapy clients can feel peace, connection, and rejuvenation. Obstructions to one's true being may be determined and changed during a massage therapy session.

On the mental level, touch can be fueled by our thoughts and beliefs. We can bring our textbook knowledge of myology (study of muscles) and neurology (study of the nervous system) to mind in such a way when we touch one another. When we touch one another during a handshake, for instance, we fire off neurons in ourselves as well as the other person and automatically determine if that touch was pleasurable or not. This helps us make preconceived notions about the person we first meet. Right away, emotions arise in response to receiving touch. We may make judgments about our bodies, rekindle old memories, or have sudden insight on an idea when we are touched a certain way.

Emotionally, our touch can convey feelings such as pleasure, surprise, anger, fear, and sadness. For the receiver of touch, certain emotions can surface when getting touched. For instance, many massage therapy clients have experienced deep emotional releases during or after a bodywork.

Physically, touch can include a plethora of experiences ranging from superficial to deep, smooth or abrupt, fast or slow, etc. There are various physical effects that can occur on the massage therapy client's body whenever they are touched. The massage therapist can scratch the skin; promote or remove bruising; dissipate scar tissue; distribute warm, soothing oils; and generate immune or nervous system responses in the client.

When you go to an expert massage therapist, make a mental note of what is going on in each of these levels. Having knowledge of these various qualities of touch can help you determine what feels "good" and "bad" to fully achieve your deepest needs in each of these four levels.

Micaela Romualdez is a freelance article writer for DFWChiroMassage. She enjoys writing on topics such as health and wellness, nutrition, rolfing, massage therapy benefits, homeopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, and other types of alternative health care.

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