Column Tijn Touber

Finding wholeness at 30,000 feet

Tijn Touber| March 2007 issue
A friend who was juggling a myriad of personal problems had to take a long overseas flight for business. Rigid with tension, she was desperate for a couple of hours’ sleep but was wedged into a middle seat between two large men. She cursed her luck.
After the meal she tried to drift off. For an hour she moved restlessly from left to right, stretched her legs then pulled them back, tried putting her head on the tray table, then used her arm as a pillow. No dice. She couldn’t relax.
Then an older Frenchman to her left said, “Madame, I see you are tense. Hold my hand; it will help you sleep.”
She looked at him. “What do you mean? I don’t even know you.”
The man smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry; it is only in a friendly way.”
Exhausted, she chose to trust him. She took his hand. Within a few minutes, she was sound asleep.
When she woke up—hours later—she was still holding his hand. She stared at the man, who was peacefully looking in front of him. “What did you do? Is this some kind of magic?”
“Oh no!” he answered. “There is no magic. When people connect, the energy can flow. When you hold my hand, your fear and anxiety can flow through me; we carry it together and it can flow away.”
Indeed, this is not about magic. We all understand the importance of physical contact. When someone touches us, we feel acknowledged, valued. Moreover, research shows that children who receive too little touch or are touched without love, lag in their development, have trouble learning, are more vulnerable to illness and are less able to feel empathy. As adults, they have more trouble with intimacy.
It makes good sense. You don’t have to be a scientist, holy person, healer or Frenchman to realize the importance of contact or the power of connection. It’s no accident that the words “healing,” “holy” and “wholeness” stem from the same root word. By reaching out to someone in need, the Frenchman restored some of my friend’s wholeness. He made her burden—so heavy when it must be carried alone—considerably lighter.
How would it be if we reached out more often to fellow humans rattled by stress? What would the world be like if we saw ourselves more as parts of the whole and more equally faced the burden of poverty, hunger, sickness and war?
How would things be different if we held one another’s hands “in a friendly way” a little more often?
 

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Column Tijn Touber

Finding wholeness at 30,000 feet

Tijn Touber| March 2007 issue
A friend who was juggling a myriad of personal problems had to take a long overseas flight for business. Rigid with tension, she was desperate for a couple of hours’ sleep but was wedged into a middle seat between two large men. She cursed her luck.
After the meal she tried to drift off. For an hour she moved restlessly from left to right, stretched her legs then pulled them back, tried putting her head on the tray table, then used her arm as a pillow. No dice. She couldn’t relax.
Then an older Frenchman to her left said, “Madame, I see you are tense. Hold my hand; it will help you sleep.”
She looked at him. “What do you mean? I don’t even know you.”
The man smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry; it is only in a friendly way.”
Exhausted, she chose to trust him. She took his hand. Within a few minutes, she was sound asleep.
When she woke up—hours later—she was still holding his hand. She stared at the man, who was peacefully looking in front of him. “What did you do? Is this some kind of magic?”
“Oh no!” he answered. “There is no magic. When people connect, the energy can flow. When you hold my hand, your fear and anxiety can flow through me; we carry it together and it can flow away.”
Indeed, this is not about magic. We all understand the importance of physical contact. When someone touches us, we feel acknowledged, valued. Moreover, research shows that children who receive too little touch or are touched without love, lag in their development, have trouble learning, are more vulnerable to illness and are less able to feel empathy. As adults, they have more trouble with intimacy.
It makes good sense. You don’t have to be a scientist, holy person, healer or Frenchman to realize the importance of contact or the power of connection. It’s no accident that the words “healing,” “holy” and “wholeness” stem from the same root word. By reaching out to someone in need, the Frenchman restored some of my friend’s wholeness. He made her burden—so heavy when it must be carried alone—considerably lighter.
How would it be if we reached out more often to fellow humans rattled by stress? What would the world be like if we saw ourselves more as parts of the whole and more equally faced the burden of poverty, hunger, sickness and war?
How would things be different if we held one another’s hands “in a friendly way” a little more often?
 

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