Communication is more than just the words, or lack of ~ it is the tone of our voice, the way we carry our body, the look in our eyes. It is the way we touch, or don’t. “Our body is not limited to what lies inside the boundary of our skin… There is no phenomenon in the universe that does not intimately concern us, from a pebble resting at the bottom of the ocean, to the movement of a galaxy millions of light years away.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, communication is the exchange of thoughts, messages, or the like, as by speech, signals or writing. We are living in a fast paced, I want it now world with e-mail, text messaging, and instant messaging. In this technological world, miscommunication has become more rampant than ever. It is easy to type in a few words, and press send before we have thought things through, and regret it later. Or perhaps the stress of the moment wins, and something unintended comes spewing out before our mouth can be closed. And sometimes the words just get stuck in our throat and are never said, causing us to retreat further into ourselves.

Human beings are more than just our bodies and our words; we are a mind, and a spirit or soul as well. To communicate effectively, we need to relate to all of these aspects of self. For thousands of years and in many cultures, massage has been used as an effective tool for both communication and healing. Massage is touch applied with knowledge & intention. The language of touch is really not complicated. To start with, there may be physical contact through the skin or no physical contact. Add in a few rules: depth, direction, duration and speed. Any variance within these four qualities will elicit a specific response from the body.

~Depth of touch may range from “touching” off the skin to firm pressure.
~Movements toward the heart are more stimulating; movements away from the heart are more relaxing. Movements in different directions will stimulate specific reactions from the body.
~The longer you touch someone, the more adjusted the body becomes to that touch.
~The faster the movement, the more stimulating it is; the slower the movement, the more relaxing.

The word intention comes from the Latin intentus meaning to stretch out or toward. It is an intangible, yet vital aspect of the relationship between massage giver and receiver. Some of the intention lies in the conscious and unconscious thoughts, desires and expectations of both individuals. “Learn your techniques well, but be prepared to drop them when you touch the human soul.” ~ C. G. Jung

You do not have to be a massage therapist to convey deep caring. With this basic understanding of the language of touch and intention, you can communicate love as well as provide comfort and relief to someone. Some people are “touchy-feely” and some do not like to be touched at all. You must always respect where each individual is on their path, and work from that point with the best of intention. For those who are not comfortable with touch, or for whom touch may be painful, you may want to “touch” off the skin an inch or several. For those whom physical touch is appropriate, begin slowly, perhaps by holding one hand in both of yours. If that is acceptable, proceed to massage the hand, wrist and forearm to the elbow, moving slowly and checking in for feedback. You may do this with or without some type of lubricant, such as massage oil or lotion.

When you or your loved one are tired, rest and try again the following day. Repetition and regularity in massage will improve your touch skills and reinforce your message of unconditional love. Please feel free to be creative and experiment, remembering that slow, continuous, reassuring movements are preferable to quick, agitated uneven ones. And you must focus your intention on your loved one. It is extremely irritating being touched by someone who is not paying attention to the person under his or her hands.

Massage is a wonderful way to stay in-touch, literally, with your loved ones on a regular basis. Please touch someone you love today.