The Heart of Touch

By Bill Bryan, originally posted on the Lionville Holistic Health Center blog, February 10, 2010)

I’ll never forget watching a carpenter friend of mine lift his 24-inch plane carefully out of the old worn tool box in which it was safely kept.

It was wrapped in a clean cloth, and stored with the blade deliberately facing away from all the other tools, so as to protect its razor sharp edge. He gingerly unwrapped this classic tool with the same amount of care as a parent would when holding their very own child. He then proceeded to eye up the instrument, holding it up in the sunlight... turning small knobs and screws and making finely tuned adjustments.

I marveled at the attention he paid to every detail.

His care for this tool kept it in perfect working order all these years. Everything from how it was stored and maintained to how he held and handled it was driven by one simple motive: value.

He truly valued his tools.

Consider this: How a person values an object can be seen in how they touch it.

Or, to put it another way: Show me a person who values their possessions, and I'll show you a person who takes care of their things.

But unlike tools or other inanimate objects, which have no sense of their own value or worth, we humans have a deep sense of our own self-worth. It matters to us whether or not we matter....!

In fact, our entire sense of security, I believe, is dependent upon three intrinsic needs: a Sense of Place, a Sense of Purpose, and a Sense of Worth.

The Heart of Touch lies directly at the center of it all!

Caring, thoughtful touch communicates to the very center of our being that we have a purpose, and a place, and that we matter. It's a powerful force that we possess at our fingertips! That, in the very literal 'palm of our hand' is the ability to make someone feel good (or bad) about themselves.

What is a hug if not the expression of belonging, and the creation of a 'safe place'?

What is therapy if not the attempt to restore someone's body to its intended purpose?

And what is 'good intent' if not the deliberate focus upon another's intrinsic worth?

The Heart of Touch is that point at the epicenter of those three basic needs: Sense of Place, Sense of Purpose, Sense of Worth. It balances and recognizes each need as legitimate. Though they be separate, practically speaking, they are intimately intertwined, functioning as triune.

For this reason, true 'healing touch' requires motives and intentions that are pure and without guile.

When we touch from a less-than-noble center, we devalue the one we are touching, robbing them of their own dignity, assigning values of worth and purpose that are unfair at best. Too many of our hurts are the result of others touching selfishly!

But when 'our center' (i.e.: the place where our Physical, Intellectual and Spiritual all intersect) directs itself on behalf of another's intrinsic needs, that's when, in a sense, Center touches Center, and a powerful reaction occurs!

At that moment, we become the very hands of God, providing for another's need for a safe place to be, acknowledging that they do indeed have a Divine Purpose, and assigning to them a renewed sense of their own Value.

What greater joy can anyone ever experience than to help another regain their own sense of dignity and worth?!

Like my friend, the carpenter, we have an opportunity to assign place, and purpose and value to those we come in contact with. But first we must recognize it in ourselves, as well as in others.

When we do, we will begin to master the Heart of Touch.

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Keep in Touch - A Poem

(Originally appearing on, 9/22/08, and copied here with permission)

When wishing to convey
   affection for another
Whether friends or college roommates
    a sister or a brother
after all goodbyes are said
   and we kiss and hug and such
We wave our hands and wipe our tears
    and say "Let's keep in touch!"

So let us now consider 
   exactly what we mean
And try our best to thus address
   and benefit and glean
from a topic oft ignored
   a mighty subject unexplored
the concept we embrace so much
   the mighty power we call touch

Connections are essential
   for living things to grow
Within connective pathways
   the breath of life doth flow
From simple to complex
   cells unite as one

A fabric held together
   connected one-by-one
And what provides the strength
   Much stronger than a crutch
The blessing of connection 
   Maintained in constant touch

This act of touch, though physical
   goes far and way beyond
Simply sensing pressure
   maintained within a bond
There's more than simple nerve cells
   talking to the brain
Registering pleasure
   or registering pain

Think of touch more like a bridge
   whereby emotions cross
Carrying their messages
   when words are at a loss
Sharing thoughts much deeper
   and weightier by much
Words alone could ne'er convey
   The truths found in our touch

Transmitting and receiving
   a silent communique'
Revealing all our true intent
   no matter what we say
The need to be connected 
   the need called 'sense of place'
A basic need we all must heed
   throughout the human race
Is sought by those who feel apart
   from loved ones and from friends
It's touch that keeps them in our hearts
   and touch affection sends

So when I say "Let's keep in touch"
   what I'm really saying
Is I value our connection
   and wish that you were staying
But if our paths should separate
   and if depart you must
Then again, I'll say my friend,
   "God bless, and KEEP IN TOUCH!"

©2008 Wm. Bryan

{ For an appointment, please call 484.798.8029, or email: }