I have started a youtube channel to explore the role of touch in our society and I have to relate it directly to the roles that intimacy and compassion play not just in relationship to others but in relationship to self. As a massage therapist for 23 years I have come to see the profound need for education in this area. Many people are so "out of touch" with their own bodies that they are barely aware of the marvelous and intelligent capacity that the body has to heal itself, given the right conditions.
It is a human tendency to look outside one's self for solutions, for comfort, for distractions, information, entertainment or stimulation of some sort. However, it is in those still quiet moments of solitude where we have at our disposal the richness of our thoughts, our imaginations, our "higher self". When we have an opportunity to quietly do nothing but tune in to our inner wisdom and receive guidance or inspiration, that is the time when we are the most powerful.
As I am prone to do, I read voraciously across multiple disciplines. I am an endless seeker of knowledge, and because I seek knowledge, sometimes it seeks me! Recently, an article fell across my news-feed. It was a study published in The Journal of Science (7/3/14). Timothy Wilson, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville had conducted an experiment to verify another psychologist's research that suggested people do not like spending time with their own thoughts. In this University of Virginia study, there were equal numbers of men and women. They were instructed to sit in a room with their own thoughts only, for 15 minutes. No pen or paper, no cell phones, ear buds, music, no books,. They were not allowed to interact with one another, speak aloud, hum, sing or make any noise. Just simply sit.
There was one other option available: They could choose to press a button which would deliver an uncomfortable electric shock to them. While 100% of the participants agreed ahead of time that they would not like to receive a shock, 67% of the men and 25% of the women chose to shock themselves, some repeatedly, rather than endure 15 minutes in silence with their own thoughts. Do the math. Only 8% of the participants were able to sit quietly in reflection for 15 minutes. What does this say about our society?
First of all, self isolation during this corona virus pandemic must be really hard on a large percentage of the population who would prefer a noxious stimulus to being reflective. A lot of people sticking forks into outlets!!!??? Maybe. Perhaps that is why many people had such a hard time complying with orders to stay at home. These people in the study were college aged students and so perhaps results cannot be generalized to the broad population. I do believe though that this is an indication of our society's loss of connection with one's own self. A lack of compassion for self, and an abdication of responsibility for nurturing an interior life. How healthy are our relationships with others when we cannot even spend time comfortably with ourselves? The WHO is already documenting a rise in domestic violence.
My youtube channel is focusing on sharing techniques you can use to treat yourself. I am currently unable to provide human model demonstrations due to isolation requirements. Yet, this model supports my observation that we first need to have love and compassion for ourselves before we can effectively extend that to others. With time, I will introduce couple massage techniques that may be practiced on a partner or family member. Until then, LOVE YOURSELF. Practice caring for your body as if you actually live in it! Pay attention to your body, slow down your mind. Turn your eyes and your thoughts inward, breathe deeply. Check out my youtube channel for tips on self massage. (htt[s://youtu.be/4JEQGhhhsq8)