GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 27, 2013

Hands hold power to heal

Personal Matters
Susan Britt

---- — Have you ever been touched on the arm by a loved one or dear friend unexpectedly, and then felt a pleasant warmth at the point of touch or even throughout your entire body?

Most people have experienced this type of positive touch. We humans are physical and emotional beings, and have both a physical and emotional need to be touched. We are mammals, and many scientific studies seem to find that mammals need to be touched by other mammals. Have you ever seen films of dolphins and whales being stroked by humans they trust? And, human babies do not thrive, and may not even survive without being touched.

Being touched, as long as it is by someone you trust, and in a safe environment, can be relaxing and revitalizing to both your mind and body. This is the reason therapeutic massage is garnering greater recognition and wider practice by the medical profession as well as advocates of the holistic approach to health. Holism is an approach to health, now generally accepted, that espouses the theory that there is a constant, functional mind and body connection — a relationship between emotional and mental wellness and physical wellness.

Massage, the gentle but firm manipulation of deep muscle tissue, not only soothes physical damage and strain, but also provides an emotional release and a sense of well being. According to certified massage therapists, therapeutic massage can ease the symptoms of respiratory ailments and sinus problems as well as sports injuries and other body traumas. It is sometimes used effectively in conjunction with chiropractic treatment and may help alleviate chronic pain while stimulating circulation.

Therapeutic massage is now being employed in the labor and delivery room. Some pregnant women include it in their prenatal program, reporting that it increases circulation and helps with the temporary discomforts of pregnancy. During labor and delivery, it can relieve tension and help the mother to remain relaxed and focused.

The emotional benefits of massage are widely acknowledged. Our emotions live throughout our bodies and are triggered by both our conscious and unconscious thoughts.

For example, when we are scared or angry our blood pressure may go up, our breathing rate increases, and our muscles become tense. When we feel comfortable, safe and happy, our bodily functions relax and therefore so do we.

The emotional connection between the body and mind is a powerful one. Massage therapists have reported that when giving massage to someone who has stressful or unresolved emotional issues, that person may burst into deep crying. Why? Because the therapist has touched the deeply embedded psychic pain buried inside the tense muscle.

Everyone can benefit from the therapeutic effects of massage. At times we have all experienced stress, most of us still have unresolved feelings, we all have, in some measure, physical and psychic pain. Therapeutic massage is a drug-free, natural way of dealing with the stresses of daily living and life’s challenges. It is a wonderful way to nurture your inner self. Massage is gentle, healing, and nourishing to the body, the mind, and the emotions.

Based in Rockport, psychotherapist and life coach Susan Britt, M.Ed., a former university director of counseling and career services, teaches individuals, couples and families to resolve relationship problems, clarify and achieve life and career goals, and accelerate personal growth. Questions and comments may be addressed to her at susanbritt1@verizon.net and by telephone 978 546-9431.