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“Long before Homo Sapiens could express themselves in word they touched as part of their vocabulary; when comforting, consoling or bonding”

also choosing a certain way of living, a certain attitude to life. In my practice I don’t associate massage with pampering and the luxury paraphernalia that it has been linked to in recent times. From its earliest inception, massage was intended as a healing art. Children in pain understand this instinctively: they come to their parents to soothe their hurt and we give them a little rub and a good word to make them feel better. Last century, nurses massaged soldiers to ease the wounds of war. Today, seriously ill patients, including AIDS and cancer sufferers, benefit from massage.

Massage treatment reduces anxiety by helping to slow down the heart rate and relieve stress. It also reduces pain by releasing the well-being hormone, serotonin and providing emotional comfort. Touch is also a very powerful communication tool. I experienced this during a visit to the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. I was living among people who didn’t speak my language, whose lives were completely different to mine and yet we were able to create deep and profound contact through touch.

I have worked with Shaman healers, teenage mothers, elderly people in care-homes and a variety of other groups both here in the UK and abroad. During all my journeys I have learned you need to have a structure to understand the underlying power of Touch. What is inherent to the appropriate treatment, what is the source of healing massage? To help better understand the potential benefit that massage (and touch in general) can have, I developed my 12 Principles of Massage. With these I have poured all of my learning and experience into something which can be taught as much as learned through individual experience and, it’s not just a case of knowing simple anatomy or the best oil to use. The Principles can be applied as much to life as they can to any massage or body work. Part of the

philosophy embodied in the Principles is that it’s the whole person that you are connecting with through touch; it’s not just flesh and bone, sinew and skin. To be able to tailor and deliver a tactile and healing massage there needs to be an emotional connection too. It’s true, some massage therapists don’t see this connection, but equally true that if given the right form of teaching they can, will and do. Touch is so fundamental to our lives, it’s the very bond we all have with life. From those first moments with our mother to the last we have with our loved ones as they pass-on. To deny ourselves, our friends and loved-ones access to a shared touch is to deprive us of a key part of the human experience. So, let us not flee in fear of touch simply because headlines decree it’s “bad to touch” or “wrong”. The right kind of touch at the right moment can make a world of difference to a life, so let us re-think, let us address Touch properly and unlock a power which transforms.

Beata Aleksandrowicz

Beata is the author of books on massage published by Duncan Baird, translated in several languages and published worldwide. A former columnist for The Sunday Telegraph, Stella Magazine, the main co-author of the Massage Guide created by The Guardian Magazine.

body LIFE 2 I 2015 I 57

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