By Carol Corio
Did it ever occur to you that what we think about telegraphs to the people around us? If a person who is experiencing a strong negative emotion (could be sadness or anger) joins a group in a room, it is usually easy for those in the room to realize that this new person has something bothering them. Outwardly, they might not look any different, but you “feel” something is not right. Conversely, if a person who is feeling positive (could be joy, happiness, even peace and contentment) joins a group in a room, individuals may not be able to explain it, but they start to feel more positive, centered, peaceful. These two examples illustrate how powerful our thoughts are when we interact with others.
“When we touch another with a compassionate heart, it creates a sacred moment.” These are the words of Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR, a recognized expert in the field of massage for those in later life stages. In 2002, she founded the Center for Compassionate Touch, LLC and in 2015 she joined the AGE-u-cate Training Institute, LLC, serving as Vice President of Training and Education, helping develop training programs. She is a Master Trainer for Compassionate Touch® and Dementia Live™.
Touch is a basic human need. In fact, it could be considered one of our most fundamental human needs. A need that remains for a lifetime. Touch is the first sense to develop at birth and it is one of the last senses to go during dying. In fact, as we experience decline of the body and mind due to aging or illness, the need for human touch may be emphasized in the search for reassurance, comfort, and connection. Some older adults can experience “touch deprivation” which can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, sadness, and anxiety.
Pam Brandon, President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute, whose Dementia Live™ and Compassionate Touch® programs are transforming care for elders, explains that when you touch someone to perform a task or procedure that is considered “instrumental touch.” The mechanics of doing something for someone is superseded by the importance of how you are feeling as you approach the person to do the task. “Expressive touch” is about how you are feeling emotionally as you show care, concern, affection, and empathy. The person receiving your “expressive touch” feels validated, supported, and it eases any distress happening in the moment.
When you combine “instructional touch” with “compassionate presence,” you are connecting with the individual first rather than the task to be completed. Compassionate Touch® is a way of relating through the use of human touch with conscious intent.
Touch is good medicine. According to Dr. Abraham Verghese at a 2013 TED Talk, “The most important innovation in medicine to come in in the next 10 years: the power of the human hand.”
If you approach someone who needs comforting or calming, make sure your compassionate antenna is up. This means that you are in a calm and relaxed place before you reach out to comfort the other person. Please be aware that if you are thinking negative and anxious thoughts, that you will transfer those feelings to the other person, even if outwardly you put on a smiling demeanor. The person receiving your thoughtful touch will be just that—receiving whatever you are thinking of. Compassionate Touch®, if done correctly, is a mutually beneficial experience. The person offering the compassionate presence and gentle touch feels less stressed themselves and feels closer to the person being cared for.
Next time you reach out to comfort someone by your own personal version of compassionate touch, be aware of what you thinking. It will make a big difference on the effect of your touch.
About the Author
Carol Corio has been studying integrated health therapies for more than 25 years with certifications in aromatherapy, polarity therapy, RYSE, Reiki, and Integrated Energy Therapy (EIT) sharing her long-time passion for integrating the benefits of therapeutic aromatherapy with those served by Old Colony Hospice & Palliative Care, and independent, private, non-profit, Medicare certified CHAP accredited, family centered, dedicated team of professionals providing excellent care services on the South Shore since 1979. For information, call 781-341-4145, visit www.oldcolonyhospice.com, or email Carol at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted from the August 2017 issue of the South Shore Senior News.