Ayurveda and The Healing Art of Touch
I lay down on the massage table, ready for my treatment. Regularly, with ritual gaze, I found my way to the quiet arms of my dear friend and massage practitioner, Monicka. My mom had died and I really didn’t know what to do. My spirit was still scrolling the heavens, not ready to leave her side, but my body and mind told me it was time to work with the pain and the grief on this plane. And so, often, I showed up to the table to receive massage, compassionate care through the vital organ of the skin. Mostly, I cried while she worked on me. But I would always tell her to keep going, it was part of this process. Her strength and compassion to hold this tender space meant the world to me. I will be grateful forever.
This exchange was/is medicine. Just like the medicine of a mama-bear embrace from a long time friend or the sweet snuggles from our honored pets, loving touch vibrates through the many layers of the skin into the deepest places. These places are the dwellings of tactile sensation and unresolved emotion and an important part of 5 sense therapy, hormonal balance and nervous system support.
Touch (sparsha is the Sanskrit term) is considered an important practice of Ayurveda. The skin, our largest sense organ, is formed into 7 layers, each layer intimately tied to the organ systems of the body. As we move into the deeper layers, we travel into the subtle, into the quiet domain of the nervous system and the receptors of touch, pain and temperature. These channels convey messages that can speak to the internal organs and the deep wisdom of the body. So when touch is used as a therapeutic ally, many benefits can arise. Snehana is the Sanskrit (the vibrational language of Ayurveda and Yoga) term for the application of oil. The most common form is called abhyanga which is oil massage of the whole body. The root word, Sneha, means love and compassion. When touch is applied with this type of consciousness and awareness, everything changes. Not only does the physical body receive needed hydration and nourishment, but the emotional, mental and spiritual bodies are tended to as well. The act of applying oil in an compassionate, caring and loving way creates a different resonance and vibration which smooths into the deeper body, the body that is sensitive and holds the matrix of our nervous system. Whether done on oneself or receiving through treatment, oil massage can be highly transformational. The ancient Ayurvedic sages from thousands of years ago said if you want to bring happiness and joy, do not discuss problems intellectually but rather, give oil massage and the problems will begin to dissolve.
Healing touch is a powerful practice that includes many methods: some touch the physical, others mental and some into spiritual (included in these are various types of massage, reiki, marma, etc). What is happening? Healing touch shows up as a wisdom being and a chance to connect and go beyond the physical and weave into the phenomena through the skin. Emotions and ideas which have crystallized into the deeper layers of our being have a portal to be guided through. Messages and pathways can be supported and elemental imbalances can be ushered back to their respective domain. So much can be offered and served.
Over the months of working with Monicka in this way, I could feel the change happen. While it is true that the physical movement of lymph and support of my tissue body was an important layer of healing, it was the compassionate touch, the quiet and connected care that really helped to shift things.
Danielle Hanna is not a licensed physician nor is Ayurveda licensed by the state.
In Ayurveda the emphasis is not only paced on disease but also maintaining the balance of the individual’s constitutional nature, so Ayurvedic treatments are never one size fits all, but custom tailored for each individual.
All content is for educational purposes only and should be considered or replaced with medical advise.