One of the Foundational Principles that we teach in every course (including introductory workshops) is the concept of Metta Bhavana, which is the cultivation of loving kindness and compassion. It’s the one piece of the puzzle that is essential to this practice. Technique and postures are secondary.
Touch with compassion alone without any other skill and it’s already immeasurably beneficial for both the person you’re touching and yourself.
The reason for this is simple and yet profound. Touch is our most ancient language of communication, and it is the one in which we cannot lie. This means more than we might initially think.
How is it not possible to lie through touch?
Because there is an immense (and quite un-quantified) amount of information that is transferred through touch. Even though it is not known just how much, scientific observation has shown it to be true.
In a study performed by Hertenstein, they observed one second contacts between people who could not see or hear one another. During that one second contact, they were given 1 of 12 emotions to convey to the other person. All different gender combinations were explored.
The results showed that an average of 55% of the first response “guesses” were accurate.
Take a moment to absorb that for a minute. 55%. To put this into context, if there were NO information being conveyed through touch, we’d expect to see 8-10% of the first response being correct given the same 12 emotional variables. That’s a ~600% increase on what a random assignment of answers. (View Full Text Here).
And that means that it’s not in fact, purely guessing when people touch us and when we touch others. There’s a lot more that’s happening. We may not know how just yet, but we know that it is happening.
So when you touch someone, they’ve got a pretty good chance at knowing exactly how you feel right then and there. That’s why you need to be kind when you touch. It spreads the goodness, and lets anything else dissolve. It’s not only a great thing to do for another person, it’s also a great habit to get yourself into – practicing letting go of those negative emotions in preference for another, more nourishing mental state.
Think about this the next time you go to touch someone.