If you want to live a pain-free life, you’re going to need to use all of your senses to reach the goal of becoming pain-free, including touch.
Touch is underutilized in pain healing for so many chronic pain sufferers, unless they learn to use massage to handle their pain. Years ago, as I started to feel pain at work I began experimenting with just touching a nice, soft shirt. It was a very simple way to exit my pain cycle. I would simply put my hand on the shirt and concentrate on the feeling of the soft fabric in my hand and that simple action caused me to calm down and relax.
What you fight against is actually going to intensify your experience. So if you’re in pain, you want to relax as much as possible. And as quickly as possible – which takes experimentation and persistence. Learn that touch works to relieve fear, anxiety, and pain. Soft tapping, bilateral stimulation or rubbing the painful area always helps.
Another easy and useful way to exit your pain, if you’re at home especially, is to just hold onto a pillow. When you’re holding onto a pillow, that is very comforting. Especially if the pillow is a nice and comforting material in your hands that feels good.
Potpourris, small potpourris in particular, is made of a nice sort of material. Smell this as well as touch it because if you use more than one sense it is actually going to make you focus on something besides your pain.
Around the world, people eat with their hands. For example, Southeast Asian cooks pound ingredients by hand with a mortar and pestle to make the chile pastes and purees that form the basis of their cuisine. Morocco, India and Ethiopia are all places where people come into contact with their food. Americans do so with snack food, burgers and fries.
Another example is Japanese food, which is very linked to the sense of touch. It is thought of as a cooking tool to tell not only freshness and condition, but the taste of a fish. Knowing the taste by touch is a function of repetition and paying attention. We can build up an accurate sensory database simply by feel.
These are very important techniques to use. Your sense of touch is very underutilized. I often hear people say “I have no one in my life, I’m in pain”. Well, in that case in particular, if you have no one to hug you, hug yourself.
The feeling of a body being touched is vital to living a healthy life. You can touch your arms or your head. All these sorts of things will actually lessen pain. I would say if you have no one else to hug you, hug yourself three times a day, just like you have three meals a day – three hugs a day works. I think you can do that even when you are in pain. Hugs are free and they also help you become pain-free. If you have someone else to hug you, that’s even better!
Now, another thing that’s actually wonderful is that you can touch your body in a particular direction and you’ll find out what that direction that is. Remember when you were young you said, “Oh, can I rub my stomach and touch my head at the same time?” I always had trouble with that. Some kids were very good at that movement. That is a simple demonstration that it focuses your mind through your senses. The more you learn that your mind focuses through the senses, the more you’ll begin to perceive that pain is malleable.
That’s the very important thing that you need to take away, namely that pain is actually your perception of it. You’re taking in pain through your senses, but it goes into your mind and your mind changes it. Your mind says “this pain is intense” or “this is not intense.” If you had lots of painful touch in the past it is very difficult to associate it with safety and pleasure. Therefore the mind intensifies the pain signal. Pain signals the mind and body to be alert. Thus with a history of that kind, the pain of today is intensified. Finding ways to make touch a pleasure will change your pain levels.
Of the many studies that demonstrates that touch communicates, one at DePauw University in Indiana shows positive touch is possible. Dr Matthew Hertenstein says “the evidence indicates that humans can communicate several distinct emotions through touch. Our study is the first to provide rigorous evidence showing that humans can reliably signal love, gratitude, and sympathy with touch. These findings raise the interesting possibility that touch may convey more positive emotions than the face.
Touch is a more sophisticated healing tool. Therapies such as Quantum Touch, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch and Reiki have been found to be useful in pain relief for adults and children. Different clinical trials on the therapeutic effects of physical contact can get differing results. It may be that it works to make us feel better, but it needs the right person, in the right mood, doing the touching.
Contact and massage can cut levels of stress hormones and increase levels of melatonin and of that feel-good hormone, serotonin.
Find things in your life that you can hold to soothe you and that lessen stress. For example, it’s not bad to have a teddy bear, and it’s certainly not bad to wrap yourself up in a sheet or blanket. You can become very safe and calm that way. When you’re tucked in you can not help but calm.
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Pain relief by touch: A quantitative approach