What did you learn about your bones in last week's post?
A whole bunch?
Not so much?
Or maybe it wasn't your bones that caught your attention, but your response to palpating them (or just the idea of it)...
Touch is right up there with shelter and community in the roster of our human needs. We need it to be comfortable and to thrive.
And because of that, it's something most of us have an opinion about.
Maybe it's an unshared thought, but it's there. If you're not sure about that, try this:
Contemplate being a massage therapist.
Do you start to imagine how great that'd be, to connect with others and heal through touch?
Or can you not get past the part where you'd have to touch whoever showed up on your table?
There's a spectrum there and most of us fall somewhere in between. (I've been on both ends of it myself.)
What about you?
Studies* demonstrate the value of touch to our well being. And while we all need it, we don't all need just any touch.
Get to know what it is. (It's likely nuanced.)
And then, years from now or bit by bit as you go, you can start to hold space for your needs, preferences, and dislikes.
Start by paying attention to your instincts: do you rush in for a hug or a handshake? Is it the same with just about everyone? Or are there distinguishing lines between family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances?
Is touch soothing or does it put you on the alert?
What you notice in yourself may surprise you, and it may take some time for it to surface.
And, of course, while touch may be part of the crazy cocktail of good juju we need for our wellbeing, there is no one way that suits all of us.
Notice --then respect-- your way.
Observing with you,
* When I find a study or research report that I just love, I share it ontwitter and facebook. Follow me there if you want a heads up on the latest interesting mind/body research.
PS: If you didn't get the bone palpation (touch) worksheet last week, you can still grab it and go through the exercises here.
Want to know a little something about yourself?
Well... maybe. It's a possibility. It's even a probability. But without some full body x-rays, I can't say for sure.
Because even though we human beings are pretty similar person to person, we're never exactly the same.
And this is true to the bone. Or bones. 208-ish of them.
Our bony variance is not just in the number of bones, but also in the size, shape, density, and arrangement. (Skeletons are soooo darn cool!)
You and I are alike enough that patient people can write textbooks with statements like "there are 208 bones in the human skeleton."
We're also different enough that no textbook can tell you everything.
That's where self observation comes in. (Or, sometimes, observation by movement + anatomy nerds like me.)
You can look at your specifics and, with some help, figure out how you're "textbook" and how you're more, well, you.
It's a pretty useful thing to figure out, because while your unique skeleton may not determine what you do, honoring it can determine how you go about doing it.
Take me, for example. I am a dancer. But my skeleton is set up just so, that no matter how I train, I'd never make much of a ballet dancer --I just don't have the hip structure for it.
Now, I don't want to be a ballet dancer. But knowing a thing or two about my skeleton can help me honor what my skeleton can do when I pop into ballet class. (Just because I'm not "built for ballet," doesn't mean I can't practice it.)
Start with simple palpation. Anatomy word alert! "Palpate" means touch or feel. That's right, you're going to observe through touch. Don't worry, I've got a worksheet to help guide you. Helpful tips throughout. Click here to view a pdf that you can download.
Have fun! And if you make it through the whole skeleton, I definitely want to hear about it. Send in your comments using the form below!
Observing with you,
PS: I don't know why each of us is unique, but I do know that our variances make us human... make us... us. And I love it.
Photo by University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences used under CC license