Touch is one of our most basic needs as humans. Our current culture has designated adult human contact for romantic relationships exclusively, but what about our capacity for non-sexual touch? Touch has the ability to heal others.
When we hug for 20 seconds or longer, oxytocin is released in our body. It's a hormone that lowers cortisol levels - the stress hormone - and does a lot of other things like give you a relaxed feeling of euphoria. It's one of the many ways we can feel pleasure.
Now imagine the opposite of that - an extreme level of cortisol coursing through your body for prolonged periods of time, void of touch - platonic, sexual - any of the above. How does your body regulate? Touch provides gentle healing. Furthermore, there are pressure points that relax tension points and aches in the body.
The slowed down meditation of focusing on touch clarifies the perimeter of our bodies. When we don't touch, we can't balance. Our motor skills suffer. Touch allows for spatial orientation. It is essential to being human.
Even more, touch can make being human a celebration. There is pleasure in holding the pressure points behind someone's ears with your finger tips, feeling their faint pulse, as they relax their jaw and feel relief after a long day at the office. How cool that we can do that for each other as friends, not reserved just for lovers.
An acquaintance friend of mine who is a neurosurgeon shared a story of a patient whose body was spasmodically moving - nervous and full of fear. In a rare moment, he reached out and held her hand. He leaned close to her face and spoke firmly "...we are going to fix you, and everything is going to be ok". The patient stopped moving for the first time. He had a nurse hold her hand for the remainder of the surgery.
Touch heals. So why would we only reserve it for romantic and sexual encounters? Heal someone today by asking them, in a neutral stance, "can I give you a hug?" Word choice is important, because if we assume the person will have a hug, we aren't respecting the other person's right to choose. If you have established previous trust with this person, maybe you'll add, "can we take a deep breath at the same time while we hug?", and you'll both heal.
Christina is a Certified Professional Cuddler. She has been featured on MTV, Snapchat’s Brother, & South Writ Large Journal. She offers One-on-One sessions, Couples sessions, and “Cuddle & Read” sessions. Her podcast, T&A Talk Sex, is designed to dispel cultural myths and taboos.