Our skins represent so much to the world around us and inside of us — culturally, physically, emotionally, sensually. The skin is associated with beauty, and shows us the signs of youth and of old age — each beautiful in its own way. It is most certainly a reflection of inner health. Radiant health shows in radiant skin. The color of the skin gives a clue to our ethnic origins and the parts of the world that our ancestors may have come from. The lines on the skin of our faces show our emotional states — stress, happiness, fear, anger, sadness — and can become entrenched if any of those emotional states become dominant. And from a massage and bodywork perspective, the skin is the organ of touch — both touching and being touched.
The skin is born of the same embryonic tissue as the brain — the ectoderm — and so we are wired from our deepest core to the surface of our skin for sensing, both our internal and our external environment. The skin is an exquisite sensor of the world around us and signals our bodies to respond in more ways than we can imagine. The touch of a soft ocean breeze might bring comfort or pleasure, stimulate a memory, shift our homeostasis around temperature, and bring more ease to our breath and circulation. The skin recognizes and alerts us to the dangers of sharpness, temperature extremes, or touch that is unwelcome. We have learned about the world around us through our skins, and we can continue to educate our internal environments in very positive ways through touch that is conscious, present, and nurturing. The touch of massage, whether from a professional or from a friend or family member, like that soft ocean breeze can bring pleasant sensation, and more ease in our breath, and circulation, and muscular system, which enhances our health in every way. So next time you touch someone — a little back rub or shoulder massage — relax and be present for what you feel, for what presents itself, and follow the body like water, or like a soft ocean breeze moving around the skin. Those myriad responses, the stirring of the depths, will bring relaxation and health to both the giver and the receiver of that touch.
Carl Johns, LMT
Director, ASIS Massage Education – Flagstaff