I believe in touch. I have always been a kind, gentle, loving person who is a caregiver and genuinely concerned for the well-being of all humanity. I share smiles, laughs, and some have said that my personality and optimism can light up an entire room. It wasn’t until massage school though that I started to really learn and accept how important touch was in accompanying any of these other characteristic traits.
I have many stories I could share about things that happened in school to others, or something I have witnessed with my own clientele. To keep confidentiality, I will share one of my own.
Our classrooms were large, sterile, bright, and cold, with 40-50 students there at any given time. For Shiatsu, everyone was in a large circle surrounding the three instructors kneeling on their own mats in the middle of the group. It was late because we took night classes. Everyone was eager to be used for the demo after a long day of work. Each instructor would have a student to demo on for a complete hour before we broke off into our student partners to practice what we had learned. I was a chosen one (for whatever reason) I still do not know why.
I laid down on the mat and was bolstered with pillows to add comfort. As the hour pushed on, I was relaxed and began to drift into a restful sleep. I don’t remember if I was dreaming or what exactly triggered this but I sat up suddenly and began crying. I couldn’t breathe as I tried to apologize for my actions and for disrupting the class. I felt terrible and embarrassed. In front of all my fellow classmates, I had been crying and carrying on like a blubbering fool.
As the class was instructed to take a break, many people left the classroom to tend to their needs, but at least 20 stayed and formed a new circle around the mat I was on. We talked about what was going on and I shared a very personal traumatic experience from my past that I believe I had been having a nightmare about when I awoke suddenly. Not one of those people sitting in that group laughed or made fun of me; in fact, I think that a couple of them cried. They stayed with me to make sure I was okay and the instructors explained that what we had all just experienced was a somatic emotional release.
This experience taught me not only that physical touch is more powerful than any of us know but also that those students and instructors that stayed with me that night touched me in a way that some never feel. It is emotional, verbal, physical, and spiritual all wrapped up in one. This understanding I believe will stay with me in my next venture into nursing.