“Touch is a much more sophisticated system than we ever realized.It effects our health on many levels. And it doesn’t have to come from another person.” Dr. Matthew J. Hertenstein, DePauw University.
I really wish I could thank each and every one of you who takes the time to ‘like’ and comment and let me know that you are being touched by what I put out there. It touches me deeply and contributes to my well-being and recovery. (Some of you know I had a nasty tumor removed from the base of my spine in Feb and that it will likely to take a year or me for me to regain full freedom of movement and to be free of pain.) I love discovering who you are, and am constantly fascinated by the diversity of people I ‘meet’. From the French philosopher, to the Canadian photographer, to the thoughtful British recent college graduate who has just come back from volunteering in South East Asia, to the 11 almost 12 years old American girl worried about the plight of wild tigers. What brought all this to the surface? Coming down a really raw sore throat that morphed i
nto a full fledged flu like cold, and not being able to respond in a timely way to the many comments and ‘likes’ from recent posts.
I felt so vulnerable and in need of comfort and loving touch. Not to mention cups of hot tea and clear broth and bowls of ‘doctored up chicken soup’. I’m including my recipe below. Funnily enough scientists have discovered that you don’t have to touch another person to receive a sensory lift, and that even cradling a steaming mug of coffee or tea in your hands can provide a lift when you’re feeling low. Some like social psychologist John Bargh, Ph.D. say it will put you in a more generous mood; a 2008 Yale study showed that people tend to think more warmly of others if they’re holding something warm. Anyway the importance of and power of touch to heal us is well documented. Touch is nourishment for the soul. It releases endorphin in the brain that help us feel good. Even plants and animals respond to touch. They grow well, feel nurtured and cared for when they are touched. We bring animals into our homes and call them our pets. The word pet is all about petting, touching, indulging and caring.
In fact, for nearly 25 years, research has shown that living with pets provides certain health benefits.Pets help lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety. They boost our immunity.
This weekend I got a lot of that from my bunny, Satine.
She is a house rabbit, sleeps in a cardboard castle, and uses a litter box. She loves to touch and be touched. I don’t know if I would have gotten through the last difficult years without her and always feel better, at least psychologically, after snuggling and petting her. In my eyes, and to my touch, she is every thing a rabbit should and can be. She is ever so soft, silky, loving, curious (occasionally rascally), playful, and peaceful. You can see and feel in your body the peace in her whole body when she flattens herself out in the grass or on the cool tiles inside. When she does a ‘binky’ (a kind of skate board move that is the rabbit version of jumping for the sheer joy of being alive) that joy is shared by those who witness it. And at night, when she curls up next to me gives me kisses, and puts her head under my hand, gently ‘demanding’ to be petted in return,I feel the pure love she embodies and emanates.
I can’t imagine life without her. Just like I can’t imagine my life without writing and with out the feeling of caring and community that comes from all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish you and yours every good thing, and all the strength and beauty you need to get though the pain that life sometimes brings. I hope you enjoy this poem, by the wonderful poet, Mark Nepo, about our need to be held and touched, and the way pets touch us and help to open our hearts. It is another reminder that our relationship to beauty in the form of art, music, poetry, nature and people has the power to uplift and awaken our full human potential.
The Deeper Chance
Mira is our dog-child.
And though we held her as a pup,
she has a need to be held
that comes from beyond us.
And though I sat with her
when she was the size of a loaf of bread,
sat on the kitchen floor staring into
each other’s eyes, she has a need to stare
that comes from a place beneath the awkwardness of humans.
These days, she seems, at moments,
a furry naked thing that never looks away.
Now, I understand: God made the animals
as raw breathing elements, each closer
in their way to one aspect of being.
And that the friction of time on earth
might have its chance to make us wise,
God made the animals speechless.
We’ve learned that Mira in Spanish
means to look. And lately, she licks us
awake and stares deep into us, as if to say,
Get up. Don’t look away. Admit
you need to be held.
ps. Doctored Chicken Soup. Take one can of your favorite brand of canned chicken soup and add to it a handful of any or all of the following; a teaspoon of fresh minced ginger, a handful of baby spinach leaves, baby bok choy leaves, and diced zucchini. Top with a tablespoon more or less of chopped spring onion (the green part).
Breathe in the delicious steamy concoction as you cradle the bowl and slurp to your heart’s content.