Thursday, April 6, 2017

Touch

What is the largest organ in the human body? 

Answer: THE SKIN! It makes up about 15% of our body weight. Touch is first processed by the skin, which sends neurochemical signals to our somatosensory cortex, which brings to consciousness the precise nature of the touch. A recent article posted in Psychology Today highlighted that scientific research now correlates physical touch with the following areas: decreased violence, greater trust in individuals, economic gain, stronger immune system, stronger team dynamics, more non-sexual emotional intimacy, greater learning engagement, and overall well-being.

Our skin gives our brain a wealth of information about the environment around us. Like the euphoric wave from a newborn clasping your finger, the subtle touch of your lovers foot in the middle of the night, the burn from that first childhood bee sting, or the calming sensation of your mother's arms cradling you, even as an adult. Nothing eases suffering like the human touch, whether it's receiving or giving it. And once again in my life, I am thriving without it. It is not easy to live without touch. I miss it every single day, especially lately, with so much conflict and tragedy haunting the media, news, and our consciousness. While serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer, at least I got to hold adorable Peruvian babies. Not here at the UN complex, the office printer and I share more physical intimacy than any human in my life. Fortunately, it was a colleagues birthday recently, which means an excuse to give a hug!


I can relate 

Top half: Me ready to work!
Since I arrived, the weather in Lima has an average of 85 degrees Fahrenheit with 77% humidity. This has resulted in the need for an anti-fungal cream for my feet. My shoulders, back, and scalp instantly warm up as I walk out the door. Once I leave my house, the human interaction begins! Tactile communication has evolved throughout the years to a clasp, use of tools, and affection. Just as chimps use touch to form alliances, we use touch as a language, especially in Latin America. Here people greet each other with a handshake and kiss on the cheek. Juan Carlos from the street corner, a man whose occupation I don't know, greets me almost every morning with a kind gesture and smile. I shake is chubby coarse hand and kiss his sweaty cheek. I look forward to our 10-second interaction.


Bottom half: Me, alleviating the itch in my feet 
When I arrive to work I sit comfortably at my desk, smiling and ready to slash my to-do list like a fruit ninja. The feeling of a keyboard on my fingertips is all too familiar. It is bittersweet to think that my hands effortlessly navigate machinery, as oppose to turning a page, or the unavoidable ache in my right palm when I journal. I am reminded of the fungus as I simultaneously rub my feet against one another under my desk as I type away; the itch is relentless.

After work, I try to go to Yoga. Aside from the rejuvenating workout, goosebumps ripple throughout my body as the teacher adjusts my downward facing dog; the human touch seems foreign and almost forgotten. Afterward, I shower, feeling the water cascading down my body. What a refreshing privilege! To nourish my skin, I reach for my coconut oil and to my surprise, it is almost solid: a sign that the evenings are starting to cool down. Thank goodness, because my slumber has resembled a crocodile using the "death roll" to kill its large prey.


Isn't she beautiful? 

I am in a long distance relationship, which means I have substituted his human touch for constant day-dreaming, and frequent phone calls, just to hear the sound of his voice. This separation anxiety makes me wonder if there is a correlation between developed countries, whose population has more personal space, and owning pets.  I do not have a pet, but you better believe that I caress my plant. I will end with this final message: 


Sources used: Human Touch , Psychology Today, Sense of Touch, elephant journal, 

2 comments:

  1. Dear Addy, I've been an avid reader of all of your blogs, since I'm holding Peru pretty close to my heart aswell. Do you mind asking me, what exactly it is you're doing in Lima and for how long?
    Hang in there!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to "meet" you Stefanie. Thank you fore reading my posts! I would like to hear more about you, and your dear love for Peru. I am in Lima until this summer (total of 7 months), I am doing an internship with the United Nations (was asked to keep my work a limited, or else I would write more about it). but lived here from 2012-2014.

      Delete