The Gift of Compassionate Touch

What makes giving massage that missing link on the spiritual path?

How does compassionate touch help bring us closer to God, spirit, one another, or however else you identify with Love?

The answer—as I see it—lies in the fact that we are already experts in touch and we have a relationship with that sense as old as our first breath.

I am very fortunate in many ways, and one is because I have a daughter that I get to love more than life itself. The timing of her coming into this world means that I was already 10 or so years into my career as a massage teacher and practitioner.

It was an incredible gift to be able to see what life is like at the very beginning. To see how she made sense of the world in those first few hours and days and months.

And what was so clear is the role that touch plays in all of that growing. It is the dominant sense at the start of life and we would be totally lost without it.

I remember clear as day the first time my daughter noticed her thumb and that there was a space between her face and her digits. The way to bridge that gap was to bring her hand to her face, and that to her was one of her first revelations, one of her first smiles. It is no accident that in those first couple of years just about everything ends up on a journey from being touched, to picked up, to being put into the mouth to confirm its realness. 

By the time we are two years old, we are all experts in touch, because we’ve been using it to understand everything. We’ve been using it to create a relationship with the present moment, with our loved ones and the world that surrounds us. By the time we reach adolescence, most of us may have forgotten its value and power, but that doesn’t mean that knowledge has gone anywhere.

Giving massage, we tap into the truth that through compassionate touch we get direct access to safety, love, abundance, and connectedness. It brings us into deep communion with each other and with ourselves in the healthiest of ways. Your partner on the receiving end gets to feel their stress and pain melt while you get a direct experience of bliss. 

Compassionate touch as a massage form is a missing link that connects you and your deeper truth with your community and your environment, and is a way to help you move from your head to your heart. It is one of the pieces of the puzzle towards wholeness and holiness, yet it is often overlooked.

There are millions upon millions of people who are committed towards healthier living who do not know how beneficial giving (and receiving) massage can be. Many of you probably already practice some form of yoga, meditation, martial arts, dance, healthy eating, getting into nature, prayer, and/or religion. Your reasons to engage in these practices are as varied as there are people, but at the same time there is a lot of overlap. Reasons include, but are not limited to: being healthy, happy, having outstanding relationships, being connected to a greater purpose, and living a long and high-quality life.

Yet in my experience, even among the most experienced yogis and long-time meditators, only a small sliver truly understand and are connected to the power of giving massage. The secret I want to share is that compassionate touch is a way to enhance and share the benefits of your personal development. It can radically transform your life—and the lives of those around you—for the better. Whatever your dreams are for a better and healthier life, massage can play a huge part in making them come true.

Train in Thai Yoga Massage and Couples Thai Yoga Massage with Shai Plonski at Kripalu.

Excerpted with permission from Compassionate Touch: Giving Massage for Optimal Health, Strengthening Relationships and Spiritual Awakening, by Shai Plonski.

Shai Plonski is a leader in the field of Thai massage and best-selling author of Table Thai Massage and The Joy of Giving Massage.

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