We use our hands constantly during the day. But, do we really appreciate the quality of our touch? Our hands and fingers are highly sensitive with many nerve endings that send messages back to our brain and tell us how to respond to our experience of touch. So, how can we awaken our sensation of touch? Try this little exploration:
1) Sit on the edge of a firm chair with your feet on the floor. Place your dominant hand gently on your leg. Take a moment to allow your hand to soften. Let your hand contact your leg and your leg contact your hand. Take a few moments to fully connect with the sensation of your hand and leg touching each other.
2) Begin to gently lift and lower just your palm away from your leg and back down to your leg. Your fingers stay in contact with your leg the entire time. Lift your palm, lower your palm. Your fingers will gently come toward each other and slide against your leg as you lift your palm. Your fingers slowly slide against your leg as you lengthen your fingers and lower your palm. Do this many times, very, very slowly. Stop. Let your hand rest on your leg.
3) Lift and lower your palm against your leg. This time, as you lift your palm, let your fingers slide toward each other, bringing your fingers and your thumb together. Now allow your fingers to open up again and slide back down, reversing the movement until your fingers are long and your palm is on your leg again. Do this slowly and gently, really listening to the quality of the movement. Stop. Rest with your hand on your leg.
4) Lift your palm from your leg, let your fingers slide toward each other and come together. Now, lift them off of your leg (as if you were picking a piece of lint off of your leg). Then allow your fingers to open completely, lower your hand back down onto your leg with the palm contacting your leg first, and then the fingers. It’s an undulating movement. See how you can make this movement smooth and continuous. Pay close attention to the quality of your movement. Stop.
5) Once again, let your hand rest on your leg. Let your hand contact your leg and your leg contact your hand. Take a moment to gently press and release your entire hand into your leg. How has the quality of your touch changed? Are you more aware of the sensations in your hand? Could you imagine touching a baby, stroking a beloved pet, or touching the face of a loved one, with such a quality of touch? Perhaps you can even touch your own face with the same amount of awareness, caring, and sensitivity. Stop and rest.
Using our hands as an instrument to communicate to others is a gift. The gift of touch also helps us communicate with ourselves and our environment. Our hands can comfort, caress, create, and heal. The possibilities are endless, so why not cherish the gift and nurture the quality of our touch?
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP