The Multidimensional Nature of Gentle Touch
It has become common knowledge that, as social creatures, human beings thrive when we are surrounded with loving relationships and a feeling of community. Intentional touch, including hugs and massage, has been shown to increase oxytocin production in the body — the hormone that is connected to feelings of bonding and love, as well as connected to longevity and health. Oxytocin is released through the relay of communications from the nerve endings in our skin to the brain — sending signals of trust, safety and security.
The millions of sensory nerves on our skin are constantly exposed to environmental factors such as chemicals in products or pollutants, artificial light that impacts our circadian rhythms, microbes and viruses, as well as emotional and energetic input. Abhyanga is a method of Ayurvedic oil massage where warm, herbal oils are applied to the body with gentle and methodical bodywork. The oil is said to penetrate deeply through the skin, to the nerve endings that lie beneath the surface, which is one of the reasons it has such a profound effect on the nervous system. Coupled with the slow, rhythmic bodywork, the body is able to shift into the parasympathetic nervous system, or the ‘rest and digest’ state, which allows for both physical recovery as well as deep mental, emotional and spiritual healing to occur. Other benefits include increased circulation, lymphatic drainage and detoxification, a strong immune system, deeper sleep, strengthening of the skin's lipid barrier and microbiome, and lubrication of the joints.
Abhyanga can be received professionally by an Ayurvedic practitioner, and the benefits can also be achieved through self-massage, however one of my favorite ways to practice Abyhanga is with a loved one. Culturally, we’ve come to a place where intimate, platonic touch is avoided or even considered awkward, but can be a territory of deep healing within our relationships, as well as heightened connection and love.
Create a soothing space for your massage, this can be done on the floor, bed, outside, wherever feels good for you. This can be setting up your space with flowers, crystals, candles or incense such as C & The Moon’s Sugar Cookie Candle, or anything else that brings a sense of calm. I recommend having some towels or old sheets to lay out so oil doesn’t get on your space.
Pour about 1/2 cup of oil — the C & The Moon Malibu Made Glow Oil is perfect for this — into a glass container and gently heat the oil by placing the container in a bowl of hot water. Slowly pour the oil over your partner’s body, beginning at the extremities and massaging upwards and inwards in rhythmic, slow, long motions, and using circular clockwise motions along the joints of the body (wrists, ankles, knees, shoulder, hips, jaw, etc.) Don’t forget to thoroughly oil the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, as well as the face and head. You can also massage oil in a clockwise direction on the abdomen to promote digestion and elimination.
Allow the oil to soak in for around 30 min before having your partner take a warm shower. The heat and steam will allow the oil to penetrate deeply through the skin into the body.
Express gratitude to your partner for them being receptive to your treatment, and let them know how much you love and appreciate them.
Olivia Burr is a practitioner of Reiki, Abhyanga, and lymphatic massage. Her healing practice is rooted in nourishment of all bodies — physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and energetic. She is located in Topanga Canyon, CA.
The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Carson Meyer nor C & The Moon LLC are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.