Wellness of the mind is strongly connected to wellness of the body. We as humans are neurobiologically wired to need touch. Our response to it effects us not only emotionally, but physically. Studies have shown effects on blood pressure and heart rate — the two most commonly measured indicators of stress — are linked by pressure stimulation on nerves in the skin. Last newsletter, I mentioned research from Dr. Tiffany Field whose Touch Research Institute puts hard scientific facts on this phenomena.
She’s quoted again in this NPR news story about the effects of human touch on well being: “If somebody touches you, there’s pressure pushing on your skin at the point of contact. And just under the skin are pressure receptors called ‘Pacinian corpuscles‘. They receive pressure stimulation, and the pressure receptors send a signal to the brain.”
The article goes on to describe the most important nerve bundle connected to these corpuscles: the vagus nerve, responsible for slowing down heart rate and blood pressure, among other things. If the nerve is stimulated by things like holding hands, hugging, or most effectly, therapeutic massage, it sends a signal to the heart to slow down.
There are many other biologically connected indicators mentioned in this study, including the release of immunity boosting hormones (oxytocin, specifically, mentioned in the last newsletter) whose job not only results in increased immunity, but also a sense of well being.
During this month, hard-wired in our brains (Americans, at least) to reflect on love and connection, it’s comforting to think about the tangible aspects of our complicated minds and bodies. Just ask sociologist Brene Brown, whose inspiring TED talk brings some perspective.
BodyWork Therapy Spotlight
There are a million modalities, or types of bodywork therapy. This month, the spotlight is on Polarity. Developed by Dr. Randolph Stone, an osteopath, chiropractor, neurologist, and naturopath, Polarity marries holistic eastern medicine (Chinese and Ayurvedic) theories of energy zones and pathways with the western scientific laws of energy — a fascinating connection! According to the American Polarity Association, Polarity addresses the interrelation of the universal laws or principles of energy (attraction, repulsion and neutrality) and how they inform our experience of wellness, health, and disease. Here’s a demo video, showing some of the basic protocols of a session. Polarity often tauts self-massage along with nutrition examination. Help yourself to some of these examples.
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