The Power of Holding Hands

Dear Reader:

Last Christmas Eve when Eva Cate and Rutledge helped me act out one part of the Christmas Eve story “When Christmas Stood Still”…they had to hold hands and repeat three times “Trust in love, Trust in love, Trust in love.”

Kaitlyn was quietly sneaking in some pictures from the front pews of the skit and this picture so touched my heart…neither grandchild has gotten too “big” to not want to hold hands with their cousin…I hope they never do. Holding hands is the most special kind of human connection that we have on earth.

The first time I ‘heard’ God’s Voice reaching out to me, in response to my night of pleading for advice and guidance before my first mastectomy… I got instead…His Hand with the voice/thought repeated several times…“Hold my hand.” 

(Source: The Science Behind the Profound Power of Holding Hands…Life) A touching tribute.

“There’s something special about holding hands with another human being. All of us are innately conscious of how this simple act can stir an instant intimacy, heighten our awareness and express a deep connection. This alchemy of two hands touching has so deeply captured our collective imagination, it’s been the subject of our highest artistic achievements, from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, to the poetry of Romeo and Juliette, to the lyrics of the Beatles.”

Human beings are hardwired to seek out each other’s touch before we are even born. If you’ve ever touched the palm of a newborn baby, then you’ve likely witnessed (and been treated to) one of the earliest instinctual responses to manifest in humans: the “grasping reflex.” Known to science as the palmar grasp reflex, the instinct makes a baby grab your finger and squeeze it tight.

Human fetuses have been observed displaying this behavior weeks before full-term. They will clutch their umbilical cord, place their hand in their mouth, or suck their thumb. Twin fetuses are known to hold hands, as poignantly captured in a Kansas family’s moving sonogram image  in which one twin is healthy and the other is critically ill. The healthy twin seems to sense the distress in the twin and holds on tightly to her sick brother. 

As psychologists Alberto Gallace and Charles Spence point out in the journal Neurosciences, “touch is the first of our senses to develop” and “our most fundamental means of contact with the external world.” It’s more than just a comforting sensation; touch is vital to human development and life.

The ‘Love Hormone’

Clearly, we humans live to touch. But how does it sustain us? What’s happening in our bodies and minds when what we touch is another person’s hand?

Multiple studies — including one conducted at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) — show that human touch triggers the release of oxytocin, aka “the love hormone,” in our brain. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that increases feelings of trust, generosity and compassion, and decreases feelings of fear and anxiety.

Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami/Miller School of Medicine, says that holding hands is one of the most powerful forms of touch in part because the skin is a sense organ and needs stimulation, just as the ears and the eyes do.

“When there’s pressure in the touch, the heart rate goes down, the blood pressure goes down, and you’re put in a relaxed state. When people interlace their fingers, they get more pressure stimulation than the regular way of holding hands.”

With so many good things about holding hands…isn’t it sad that in this ‘politically correct’ society holding hands is almost becoming  taboo and the cost is affecting all of us…but especially our teenagers.

One Touch Research Institute study suggests that American teenagers touch each other less than French teenagers do, and are more prone to aggressive verbal and physical behavior.Other data supports this claim that American youth is more violent and more prone to suicide than youth in other countries. Field’s hypothesis is that it has to do with ours being a “touch-phobic society.”

By the time we reach the end of our lives Hospice workers say that the most important thing to do when we are around a family member or friend who is dying is to hold their hand and talk to them quietly, gently, and softly. Touch and Sound are the last two senses to go.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

So until tomorrow...“I feel the healing hands of God touch my heart
and kiss my soul.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

The on and off showers  we are receiving are bringing much needed happiness to the morning glories…the blooms are beginning to pop like popcorn and new plants are blooming for the first time. Hands down…my garden is loving this weather. We got it just in time as our drought has been upgraded to a ‘severe drought’ with a  9 inch deficit. Rain, baby, rain!

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About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Power of Holding Hands

  1. bcparkison says:

    Yes…This is one of the things I miss the most with the passing of my late husband. We always held hands. And hugs…I miss the hugs.

    Like

  2. Rachel Edwards says:

    Becky,

    When I read your entry from today so many thoughts popped into my head. I still remember when you shared with me about the night before your first surgery and how your hand was in a position of “being held” when you woke up the next morning. Since then I think how many times I have seen this being stated in my daily devotional…holding on to the right hand of God. I also know that with both of my parents I massaged their hands when they were at the end of their lives and will never forget it. And, every morning I try to interlace my hands with Fred’s and let him squeeze my hands as a type of therapeutic massage before we get up. I truly believe in the power of touch and particularly the power of holding hands. When Ellie was visiting on her own and I was reading to her before she went to bed, she was fascinated with my large blood vessels in my hands. When I told her that my grandmother’s hands looked like that and that I was old, she responded, “GiGi, you are not old, you are older” ,,,,made my day. Love you.

    Like

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