Touch is important to our wellbeing, writes Tara Silverthorn, as she explains how craniosacral therapy uses the power of touch to improve your body’s balance and health.
In a culture where touch is becoming increasingly regulated and sparse, our need for contact is perhaps greater than ever.
Importance of contact
We know through our lived experience as human beings that physical touch is an important part of our existence. It can be incredibly powerful, through a warm hug from a loved one at just the right moment, a friendly hand on the shoulder when we need reassurance, a safe embrace from a parent or caregiver when we felt insecure or afraid as a child.
What’s more, the skin is an incredibly sensitive and intelligent organ. It’s constantly mediating our experience of the world around us, both alerting us to danger and letting our brains know when something feels pleasurable or comforting; telling us we are safe.
More and more, scientific research is revealing that touch plays a vital role in our development and sense of wellbeing.
In Dacher Keltner’s succinct talk on touch, he outlines its importance and benefits. He explains how basic, safe touch can initiate all of these amazing physiological responses:
- Activate the prefrontal cortex: the brain’s site of reward and compassion
- Calm cardiovascular stress
- Activates the vagus nerve, which is responsible for the regulation of heart, digestive and breathing functions
- Leads to oxytocin release, our ‘bonding hormone’ that creates feelings of calm and closeness. Oxytocin has been shown to reduce the effects of stress, such as blood pressure and gastrointestinal issues, as well as promote overall health and healing, as shown by research.
How does a Craniosacral Therapist use touch?
Biodynamic craniosacral therapist, chiropractor and author, Steve Haines describes Craniosacral Therapy as “the art of using touch to support health”.
According to Steve, “when you touch people, they change. It is that simple.” Using gentle, non-invasive and non-manipulative touch, as well as practising an attentive presence, craniosacral therapists learn to feel subtle rhythms, qualities and changes happening in the body.
First and foremost, by using their hands, they attend to the body’s sense of health; its motion and vitality and how this is expressed in the individual. They also learn to notice places in the body where there is a lack of movement, stagnation, contraction or disconnection. Using a sensitive and skilful touch, craniosacral therapists then help to enable the body to undo these patterns and to find greater ease and overall balance. It is amazing what can happen when all this is heard!