Surprising facts about touch
Touch is perhaps the most overlooked sense.
Every one of us receives tactile information about the world around us every second of the day. Right now, if you're sitting, your bottom is being squished into your chair. Your fingertips are probably touching a mouse, or swiping the glass of your phone. All this information is so omnipresent, in fact, that the only way to make sense of it is to tune most of it out — you probably weren't paying attention to these sensations until you read those words.
"You can't turn off touch. It never goes away," says David Linden , a neurobiologist at Johns Hopkins and author of the new book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind. "You can close your eyes and imagine what it's like to be blind, and you can stop up your ears and imagine what it's like to be deaf. But touch is so central and ever-present in our lives that we can't imagine losing it."
In the book, Linden explores all sorts of fascinating aspects about this enigmatic sense.
Your brain pays wildly disproportionate attention to touch on different parts of your body
The cortical homunculus — is a human figure scaled to match the proportions of how touch sensors are represented in the brain.
"The part of your brain that processes touch information has a map of your body surface. But this map is very highly distorted," Linden says.
"It over-represents areas that have lots of fine touch receptors (like the face, the lips, the tongue, and the fingers) and under-represents areas that don't have many receptors (like the small of your back, your chest, and your thighs)."
These receptors, he says, come in four varieties. "There's one receptor for sensing vibration, one for tiny amounts of slippage, one for stretching of the skin, and one that senses the finest kinds of textures. The last one, called a Merkel ending, is only in the parts of your body you use to feel something really finely — like your fingertips and lips."
You have a special system for feeling emotional, social touch
"There are two touch systems," Linden says. "One that gives the 'facts' — the location, movement, and strength of a touch — and we call that discriminative touch."
"But then there's the emotional touch system. It's mediated by special sensors called C tactile fibers, and it conveys information much more slowly. It's vague — in terms of where the touch is happening — but it sends information to a part of the brain called the posterior insula that is crucial for socially-bonding touch. This includes things like a hug from a friend, to the touch you got as a child from your mother, to sexual touch."
"It's not just a different kind of information that's conveyed by the same sensors in the skin that allow you to feel a quarter in your pocket. It's a completely different set of sensors and nerve fibers that wind up in a different part of your brain."
Touch is mysteriously crucial for a baby's development
"The best examples of this come from Romanian orphanages after Ceaușescu's fall, when there just weren't enough people around to take care of babies. They were barely touched during the day," Linden says.
"These kids didn't just have a host of emotional problems — though they were depressed and had high instances of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other issues — but they also had a whole raft of physical ailments. They had weakened immune systems, and skin ailments."
"Other research has confirmed this phenomenon. We're not entirely sure why it happens, but it seems that early touch experience is extraordinarily important for development both cognitive function and a healthy body."
"This is why, nowadays, when premature infants are born and put in isolators, they're taken out for a few hours a day, and pressed against a parent's skin. Initially, when isolators were first invented, people thought you should just leave them in there alone, so they don't get infected. But then they might not get touched for the first two months of life, which turns out to be disastrous."
The emotional context changes our physical experience of touch
As we all know well, touch can actually feel physically different based on the social context of the encounter. Consider the example of an arm around the shoulder, said Linden: Whether it's coming from a good friend, your lover, your boss or a person you don't like very much will change the way you experience that touch, even if your skin is being stimulated in the exact same way.
"It's not just that the context is different -- it will actually feel different," Linden explained. "The reason is because these emotional touch brain areas are getting information about the social context from other parts of the brain."
Because of this separation of the two pathways used for processing touch, is that in some people with certain brain disorders, the physical sensation of pain can be separated from its emotional impact. So too, can the pleasurable aspect of touch be removed from the actual sensation.
Touch shapes first impressions of people in weird ways
"Incidental touch can help form our impressions of people's character," Linden says. "In one experiment
people were holding either a cold iced drink or a hot drink when meeting someone, and those with a hot drink literally rated the people they met as warmer — as in, having a more pro-social personality. They didn't rate them better overall — say, as smarter, or more competent — they just rated them as warmer."
"There was another study in which people evaluated others' resumes on a clipboard, and if they were on a heavy clipboard — rather than a really light one — they were rated as having more gravitas, more authority. Once again, people didn't think they were smarter, or better team players, or things like that. The weight made them seem weighty."
"When these studies first came out, no one really believed them — but they've since been well reproduced. It's also not a quirk of English, it happens across cultures. It's been done in Papua New Guinea."
"It points to an idea that's come up in social psychology again and again: if you're evaluating someone for the first time, the first decision you make is friend or foe. Is this person warm, or are they a threat? Then the second thing you evaluate is whether they're competent — which means that it matters if they're a threat or not. And it seems that touch information helps us make these distinctions, even when it's irrelevant."
We still don't really completely understand how sexual touch works
"We know embarrassingly little about it," Linden says. "Here's a very basic question that we can't fully answer: what makes the genitals different from the rest of the body? Obviously other parts of the body can lead to sexual stimulation, but there's something special about the genitals. And we just don't know what it is."
"If you look at the skin in the genitals, there are some structures — including one called a mucocutaneous end organ — that are present there at higher densities. So it seems likely that it's involved in sexual sensation. But in truth, we don't have a way of activating those nerve endings on their own, so we just don't know."
Sexual sensation affects so much in our lives, our social organization, and what makes us human — and yet we know embarrassingly little about the biology of it.
Touch can be therapeutic
A large body of research -- much of which has been conducted by Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami -- suggests that therapeutic massage can be useful for a number of physical and mental ailments.
These therapeutic applications include pain relief, addiction recovery, and maintaining emotional equilibrium, cognitive function and mobility among an aging population, Linden suggested. Research has also shown that massage may be an effect way to treat anxiety, insomnia, headaches and digestive problems.
Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 30 things to start doing for yourself.
#1. Start spending time with the right people. – These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.
#2. Start facing your problems head on. – It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them. Problems will not disappear unless you take action. Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done. It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction, inch by inch. These inches count, they add up to yards and miles in the long run.
#3. Start being honest with yourself about everything. – Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become. Be honest with every aspect of your life, always. Because you are the one person you can forever count on. Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there. Read The Road Less Traveled.
#4. Start making your own happiness a priority. – Your needs matter. If you don’t value yourself, look out for yourself, and stick up for yourself, you’re sabotaging yourself. Remember, it IS possible to take care of your own needs while simultaneously caring for those around you. And once your needs are met, you will likely be far more capable of helping those who need you most.
#5. Start being yourself, genuinely and proudly. – Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are. Be yourself. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.
#6. Start noticing and living in the present. – Right now is a miracle. Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. So stop thinking about how great things will be in the future. Stop dwelling on what did or didn’t happen in the past. Learn to be in the ‘here and now’ and experience life as it’s happening. Appreciate the world for the beauty that it holds, right now.
#7. Start valuing the lessons your mistakes teach you. – Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of progress. If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning. Take risks, stumble, fall, and then get up and try again. Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, learning, growing and improving. Significant achievements are almost invariably realized at the end of a long road of failures. One of the ‘mistakes’ you fear might just be the link to your greatest achievement yet.
#8. Start being more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.
#9. Start enjoying the things you already have. – The problem with many of us is that we think we’ll be happy when we reach a certain level in life – a level we see others operating at – your boss with her corner office, that friend of a friend who owns a mansion on the beach, etc. Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there you’ll likely have a new destination in mind. You’ll end up spending your whole life working toward something new without ever stopping to enjoy the things you have now. So take a quiet moment every morning when you first awake to appreciate where you are and what you already have.
#10. Start creating your own happiness. – If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy, you’re missing out. Smile because you can. Choose happiness. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be happy with who you are now, and let your positivity inspire your journey into tomorrow. Happiness is often found when and where you decide to seek it. If you look for happiness within the opportunities you have, you will eventually find it. But if you constantly look for something else, unfortunately, you’ll find that too. Read Stumbling on Happiness.
#11. Start giving your ideas and dreams a chance. – In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Most of the time you just have to go for it! And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
#12. Start believing that you’re ready for the next step. – You are ready! Think about it. You have everything you need right now to take the next small, realistic step forward. So embrace the opportunities that come your way, and accept the challenges – they’re gifts that will help you to grow.
#13. Start entering new relationships for the right reasons. – Enter new relationships with dependable, honest people who reflect the person you are and the person you want to be. Choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who show you love and respect – people who reciprocate your kindness and commitment. And pay attention to what people do, because a person’s actions are much more important than their words or how others represent them.
#14. Start giving new people you meet a chance. – It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you’ve ever made. People and priorities change. As some relationships fade others will grow. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work. Trust your judgment. Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.
#15. Start competing against an earlier version of yourself. – Be inspired by others, appreciate others, learn from others, but know that competing against them is a waste of time. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. You are competing to be the best you can be. Aim to break your own personal records.
#16. Start cheering for other people’s victories. – Start noticing what you like about others and tell them. Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places. So be happy for those who are making progress. Cheer for their victories. Be thankful for their blessings, openly. What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.
#17. Start looking for the silver lining in tough situations. – When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small glimmers of hope. Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times. And remain conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right. Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.
#18. Start forgiving yourself and others. – We’ve all been hurt by our own decisions and by others. And while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go. Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.
#19. Start helping those around you. – Care about people. Guide them if you know a better way. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness begets love and kindness. And so on and so forth.
#20. Start listening to your own inner voice. – If it helps, discuss your ideas with those closest to you, but give yourself enough room to follow your own intuition. Be true to yourself. Say what you need to say. Do what you know in your heart is right.
#21. Start being attentive to your stress level and take short breaks. – Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose. When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity. These short breaks will help you regain your sanity and reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.
#22. Start noticing the beauty of small moments. – Instead of waiting for the big things to happen – marriage, kids, big promotion, winning the lottery – find happiness in the small things that happen every day. Little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the early morning, or the delicious taste and smell of a homemade meal, or the pleasure of sharing something you enjoy with someone else, or holding hands with your partner. Noticing these small pleasures on a daily basis makes a big difference in the quality of your life.
#23. Start accepting things when they are less than perfect. – Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’ One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are. Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to trying to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal. No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.
#24. Start working toward your goals every single day. – Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Whatever it is you dream about, start taking small, logical steps every day to make it happen. Get out there and DO something! The harder you work the luckier you will become. While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it. By ‘working on it,’ I mean consistently devoting oneself to the end result. Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
#25. Start being more open about how you feel. – If you’re hurting, give yourself the necessary space and time to hurt, but be open about it. Talk to those closest to you. Tell them the truth about how you feel. Let them listen. The simple act of getting things off your chest and into the open is your first step toward feeling good again.
#26. Start taking full accountability for your own life. – Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them. Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will. And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own. You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. And no, it won’t always be easy. Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them. But you must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles. Choosing not to is choosing a lifetime of mere existence.
#27. Start actively nurturing your most important relationships. – Bring real, honest joy into your life and the lives of those you love by simply telling them how much they mean to you on a regular basis. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to a few people. Decide who these people are in your life and treat them like royalty. Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.
#28. Start concentrating on the things you can control. – You can’t change everything, but you can always change something. Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can control, and act on them now.
#29. Start focusing on the possibility of positive outcomes. – The mind must believe it CAN do something before it is capable of actually doing it. The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful. Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Regardless of how a situation seems, focus on what you DO WANT to happen, and then take the next positive step forward. No, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you react to things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether or not you’re happy and successful in the long run depends greatly on which aspects you focus on. Read The How of Happiness.
#30. Start noticing how wealthy you are right now. – Henry David Thoreau once said, “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” Even when times are tough, it’s always important to keep things in perspective. You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night. You didn’t go to sleep outside. You had a choice of what clothes to wear this morning. You hardly broke a sweat today. You didn’t spend a minute in fear. You have access to clean drinking water. You have access to medical care. You have access to the Internet. You can read. Some might say you are incredibly wealthy, so remember to be grateful for all the things you do have.
This is such a wonderful list. If we take little steps every day and practice these things, we can make great improvements in our lives. Share this post with your friends and loved ones.
What to Expect during Sacred Lomi Lomi ?
Have you ever transcended time and space during a massage and felt your cells being blessed?
Lomi lomi, the Hawaiian healing art form of massage, has been described by Aunt Margaret Machado (the first Hawaiian to get licensed in massage) and others as "loving touch." However, lomi is more than technique. It is a life style and a journey to know one's self on a deeper level.
Every lomi session begins with pule (Prayer) and intention. There are different styles depending on the lineage and what was offered in their 'Ohana (family). One of my mentors, Robert Ganske, says simply, "Lomi begins when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. I ask myself, how can I contribute?"
What to Expect -
Your Sacred Lomi experience will take place in a comforting, calm, clean well-heated space surrounded by beauty inspired
by the big Island.
Hand blended aromatherapy oils, and a combination of music will allow you to be carried away by this wavelike massage.
Sacred Lomi begins by setting the intention that this moment
is a celebration of self. I sometime invoke the sounds of a singing bowl to signal that a journey of relaxation is about to commence.
It’s about being present and supportive and encouraging deep
breath. There is generous use of warm oils. So dress and plan accordingly for when you leave.
Sacred Lomi embraces the integrated whole being-physical, emotional, and energetic. The flowing circular runs
nurture and embrace clearing out old patterns and awakening new vision. By completely letting go and surrendering to this treatment you will experience unconditional love and acceptance and may reconnect or find your most authentic self. It can sometimes bring about an intense emotional reaction or release.
Lomi to me is to contemplate in nature and nurtures the soul, spirit and body in a much deeper way than a traditional massage."
For those who feel only "deep" work is true massage, I simply offer that Lomi is less invasive but no less effective. Poetically described, "Lomi, in essence, is like floating on a raft in a peaceful lake. You are invited to deeply relax and release stress, to clear my mind and allow yourself to simply be in the moment."
For many who come and experience Lomi for the first time, they often describe it as "the best massage experience ever".
I invite you to try this unique experience for yourself and to make it a regular part of your life, not simply a one time luxury.
Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage
A Hawaiian full body massage consists of elements of massage, dance, breathing and energy work.
From the temples of Hawaii - Originally, Lomi Lomi was a temple massage. The Kahunas, the sages of ancient Hawaii, practiced it as a rite of passage in the Temple. With it, you could detach from the Old and open to the New. Putting one back in balance, and allowing the knowledge that had been accumulated in the past to be employed with more confidence and self-confidence in a relaxed way, to face new tasks and challenges of life.
Huna Philosophy - Behind it is the Huna philosophy from Hawaii. The people of Hawaii have a deep knowledge of the energies of nature and the relationship between the human body and mind. This is reflected in their lifestyle and their zest for life.
Holistic Approach - Hawaiian Lomi Lomi is a holistic massage, which not only aims to loosen tight muscles, but appeals to people as a whole. Whole body, whole body and mind. Not just one part. It comes from an attitude of surrender and acceptance. A willingness to "let go" . The body of the recipient, his/her needs are the script for this massage.
Long, flowing massage movements, some of which are performed with the forearm, alternate with gentle loosening of the joints and energy work. This type of dedication and touch in connection with warm body oil and accompanied by specific musical sounds causes profound relaxation and frees the recipient to "let go" at all levels of their being.
A Feast for the Senses Lomi Lomi is a feast for the senses and a nourishing way to find deep relaxation. It brings you to your original being; Simplicity. Where trust, love and peace prevail. Following, it is easier to encounter the world again with a smile.
What are some of the benefits of Lomi Lomi?
Lomi Lomi should not just be considered a one time pleasure or luxury treat. It should be a routine, incorporated as part of an overall wellness lifestyle. At least once per month.
To read part one click here
I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.