I am now in Texas visiting my family. I is nice to reconnect. Not everyone has family for that kind of connection. In my life family has always been my rock. I was brought up to believe that will everything else fell away family was there. For most of my life this has been the case.
One of the most difficult things about how we all live today is we are so separated. Yes, we can fly to visit family but it is not the same as being in the same town. When families lived close to each other it always seemed that there was someone that you could relate to. It might be crazy Aunt Lily or weird Uncle George but we were able to find someone who understood us.
The world is wider and narrower today. We are physically separated but can communicate easier. That helps in some ways but there is nothing like a hug. As humans we are wired to need touch and the fears we see with inappropriate touch has made us draw back from even simple gestures. I don’t know how we will fare if we are unable to receive the physical contact we need. Babies who are not held are at greater risk for a diagnosis of “attachment disorder” which can lead to serious antisocial behaviors. I wish I knew the answers but I don’t.
Find the people in your life who are willing to share touch in a positive way. We can’t live without it.
Some people delight in complaining. They want to tell you what is wrong. They don’t want to fix it they just want to complain. Some of them are negative all the time but some are not. If you are part of a group plan there is always someone who wants to tell you why it won’t work. I hate to say it but probably the worst are church members. I think that part of the reason is that everyone who belongs think they own the whole thing. If there is one typo in the bulletin they have to point it out. Especially in some place where everyone can hear.
The hardest part about belonging to a church is that it is as imperfect as we are. I think that’s what turns some people off. The expectation is that everyone in the church will behave in a Christian way. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
Church may not necessarily be important to your spiritual growth but a community of people is. If you can find a church that feels like home that is wonderful. If you can’t then at least seek our some like-minded souls who will support you on your path.
It is very difficult to grow in your chosen faith alone. We all need people who share their stories, their struggles and their journey. Connecting with others gives us insights that we would not find on our own. That is the same kind of support that some of us find blogging. We can gain support that way if we truly exchange our formation stories and our successes and failures. However, where faith is concerned, I think some sort of physical connection helps. Not everyone benefits from a place where we experience physical touch but as humans it changes us.
Don’t ever stop seeking the place that you can grown and thrive!
There has been a lot of research about touch and how healing it can be. Over the years, while visiting people at home and in the hospital, I have always used touch to draw closer. I truly believe that touch can be therapeutic if used with intent to heal. Recent studies have shown that just holding the hand of a loved one can reduce pain.
When visiting a member of the congregation in the hospital I found her in pain. Unfortunately, he pain medicine was not due for some time and she was very uncomfortable. She responded well to my touch and using both touch, a soothing voice, and a meditative talk (like a mantra….”just rest, just rest..close your eyes and just rest) over and over she relaxed into a calm and peaceful state and was able to wait for her next dose of medicine.
I don’t know how many times I used this technique on my children and never thought about it but with my job as parish nurse it was very helpful. Having someone focus your thoughts soothes us and along with gentle touch can bring us to a state of calm.
The problem is it is hard to do this for yourself. I have done it on occasion when I found myself in a situation when I was about to lose either my temper or my mind. Just stepping back, breathing and focusing my mind….I sometimes repeat “be calm, be calm”…does help me get past that moment. I had a Tai Chi instructor who said when faced with her kids waiting in an airport she had to keep saying “lower your chi” over and over.
Sometimes when I am alone I like to sing a piece of Taize music. These pieces from the Taize community in France are soothing chants that can calm your mind and soothe your soul. If you have never heard these look it up.
This link will take you to one of my favorites on YouTube.
Yesterday I talked about the importance of touch. There is another side to the idea of needing touch. It is very important that we learn to treat ourselves well. We can get some positive touch from things that we do. What do you like to do to make yourself feel better? I love smells so lighting a candle for the odor makes me happy. Slipping between clean sheets is something that I love. I love to take a walk with the dogs. A wonderful sup of tea. All these things tend to bring me down from whatever stressors are jumping on me.
While at my grandson’s wedding I was feeling stressed (weddings are always stressful for those involved) but really had no way to stop the cycle. I wanted to but I was away from home with other people and couldn’t think of a way to stop.
When I think back I realize that I could have taken five minutes to take a short walk outside and just breathe. The way that we do nice things for ourselves is a way of giving ourselves soothing touch.
The secondary benefit of this is that we are more ready to offer something soothing to someone else. Being kind to ourselves is a step in the direction of being kind to others. We will begin to treat others the way we treat ourselves. Kindness can start at home. Learn to take time to do something for yourself and let yourself pass it on to others.
A recent article was about the pain lessening effects of touch. A study was done with couples that showed just holding hands reduced the level of pain. I have been a nurse for a long time but I have always believed that touch heals. I have been with patients in the hospital who are in pain and can’t have more meds yet. I have gently held their hand or stroked an arm while speaking soothingly. They almost always calmed and were able to rest more comfortably until med time.
We humans have lived with others (i’m sure) since we lived in caves. We have been communal and depended on each other. I don’t think we are meant to live life alone. That doesn’t mean that we have to live with someone in our home but that we need community. Community is one place (hopefully) where touch can happen in safety.
It has been my experience that human touch is critical to our health. Babies who are not cuddled and held in the beginning of their lives do not thrive. Many of them have significant social disorders later in life.
We need touch. In my role as Parish Nurse I used some form of touch with everyone I visited. I never had anyone not want that. (I know some people don’t like being touched)
With all the issues in our society today touch has become an iffy thing. We are often afraid to touch knowing that it can be misconstrued. It is a tragedy that this is the case. We all need touch to be whole.
My mind wanders. When I was in third grade I remember spending time in (what was called ) the coat closet. Not an actual closet but an area in back of the classroom where we hung our coats. This was because I was never paying attention. We would be reading a story and I would finish it in a few minutes and then my mind would wander.
My mind still wanders. I have to catch myself during a sermon unless it is riveting. I was bored sitting in on a mediation the other day and I started to wander off. For most of my life I felt that was one of my flaws.
Now there is a study that says that people whose minds wander score higher on intellectual ability. I really hope that is true. When aging you start to wonder if you are losing your mental acuity. My daughter who works for a big software company says that our RAM memory is full. That makes perfect sense to me. We receive so much input on a daily basis that it is no wonder we can’t keep up.
I keep worrying about the next generations and the input of electronic data. More and more children are being home schooled with computer classes. I understand why parents are taking this option but I do worry so much about socialization.
As a society, we are more lonely than we have ever been. We are lonely in spite of all the input because it can’t take the place of human interaction. I believe that we are hard wired to need others and not just on electronics. We need touch and face to face communication. We have long known that infants who receive little touch early in their lives are more likely to end up with anti social disorder. Touch is crucial to our well being.
I have always been a hugger. I plan to continue that. I don’t hug people if they seem uncomfortable but I will use touch as a means of communication. When I visited the sick for the church touch was a major part of what I did.
I know we do have to keep touch appropriate but to stop the healing touch would be a terrible loss. Touch heals.