Only just recently, the world was treated to the glamorous affair of the Oscars. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of movie actors, directors, producers, sound technicians, costume designers, and many more ‘movie makers’, young and old, dressed in their finest, ready to applaud the best and support their own. Some were in the running to win the ultimate – the golden Oscar. And while the world knows them as the famous actor, or producer or director, have you wondered how many butterflies they had in their stomach as they waited for the winners to be announced? As the world waited to see their reaction to the announcement; and even more, to hear their acceptance speech.
Being nervous or a little anxious before a ‘big’ event is very natural to every human being; and one very common symptom is feeling ‘butterflies or palpitations in the stomach’ that don’t seem to go away, until of course the stressful event we have been anticipating is over or resolved. Famous people are not immune to this and there is nothing wrong with having these temporary feelings of tension or stress; but it is when these butterflies in the stomach never stop or go away; when this unsettling ‘ill’ feeling becomes the norm and disrupts one’s ability to live calmly, that one realises that he or she is living with anxiety. In many cases other symptoms will also materialise limiting the full enjoyment of living even further.
Of course the regular practice of ‘stillness’ provides relief from all these anxiety symptoms and restores calmness. One of the many advantages of SMT facilitated sessions is the use of calming touch, a unique, regulating feature of this particular type of meditation. Dr Meares explained this as “non verbal communication” between the client and the therapist. The support and understanding of the therapist is communicated without the need for words.
Some recent studies support and further expand this concept:
“The skin and the central nervous system arise from the same embryonic cell layers … after the differentiation of the brain and spinal cord, the rest of the embryo’s surface covering …give rise to the sense organs of hearing, smell, taste, vision and touch. We could consider the skin an exposed portion of the nervous system or an external nervous system. Touch can have strong effects on our bodies because, when the skin is touched, that stimulation is quickly transmitted to the brain, which in turn regulates our bodies. Depending upon the type of touch we receive, we can either be calmed down or aroused” ( Ref: Touch, By Tiffany Field, MIT Press 2003)
Mothers have instinctively used touch to bond and calm their babies and now science can explain why this is. There are hundreds of studies supporting this theory and Dr Meares was certainly wise to the benefits of calming touch over 50 years ago.
So next time you’re feeling nervous or anxious with “butterflies in the stomach”, try placing your hands gently on your stomach, the same way as if you are comforting a baby, and take 5-10 minutes to practice Stillness. You may be surprised to find that you are feeling much calmer afterwards