When learning about a new object, or deciding upon what item to buy in a store, have you ever said, “Let me look at that more closely”?  Then you simultaneously reach out and put the object into your hands, as well?

Do your hands have eyes? Not exactly, but…

Our senses are the direct interface between our bodies and the world. Of all our senses, touch is perhaps the most powerful and most important.

As you may have noticed, it’s hard to resist the beautiful touch of a newborn’s skin or the wonderful silky surface of a flower petal. Contrarily, there are tactile sensations that may make you feel uncomfortable or squeamish that you prefer to avoid altogether.

Your sense of touch opens up the world to you and allows you to experience environments and people more fully.  Your sense of touch also helps you make important decisions and take useful actions.  However, often, this sense gets ignored when we talk about the senses.

For example, when listing off the senses, people will typically say, “Sight, sound, smell, taste and then… um, what’s the other one? Oh, yeah… touch!” 

The fact that we tend to forget it is interesting.  It’s like we take our sense of touch for granted, yet it is essential to our daily lives.

As humans, we use it to gather information about our environment, the objects in our surroundings and as a means to develop bonds between each other.

When we touch and feel something, we gather multiple informative cues about it, such as:

  • Soft or hard?
  • Wet or dry?
  • Cold or hot?
  • Smooth or rough?
  • Stable or unstable?

If you enjoy the sensation, you are likely to continue to run your fingers over the object.  This will provide information for your brain and stimulate an immediate pleasing or calming effect on your entire nervous system. If you don’t like it, you’ll move your hands away quickly.

Particularly, your fingertips and lips have a high density of specific nerve endings that are responsible for feeling vibration and light touch. This makes sense when you think of how powerful a kiss can be or the healing ability of your hands when you place them on someone who is upset or hurt.

Every second of every day you are receiving information about others and the world around you through tactile information. As you read this, you could be sitting on a comfortable couch or standing on a hard surface; your fingertips may be on a laptop touchpad or swiping the glass of your phone.

Since continual information flow can be a sensory overload, you tune most of it out without even realizing it.

While you can close your eyes and begin to understand what it’s like to be blind and you can put in earplugs and imagine what it’s like to be deaf, you can’t turn touch off – it is always on. 

Touch is the ‘Alpha and Omega’ of all your senses. It is with you your entire life. While you lose touch receptors over time, touch will continue to function after other senses have diminished in old age.

In fact, a baby’s first experience to the surrounding environment occurs through touch. This sense starts to develop in utero at about 16 weeks and continues thereafter.

Touch is not only necessary for short-term advancement within infancy and early childhood sensory experiences, but it is vital for long-term healthy development, too.

Tactile learning and touch are essential for a child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being and particularly these areas:

  • Physical growth and abilities
  • Cognitive and language skills
  • Social and emotional development

Of course, touch is also important for adults.  Research has discovered that affectionate, positive touch in people of all ages is associated with enhanced learning, language processing, improved problem solving, increased physical recovery speeds, decreased stress, and less pain experienced by those suffering from certain illnesses.

According to Maria Montessori, the first woman to attend medical school in Italy and famous for her educational methodology used globally in many public and private schools, “The senses, being explorers in the world, open the way to knowledge.”

Children learn through hands-on tactile experiences. Many toddlers and kindergartners first learn through coloring, painting, drawing, movement, and handling tactile objects.  This is so they can eventually transfer their learning to the left side of their brain as a basis for enhanced language skills, critical thinking, problem solving, reading, and writing.

Ample stimulation and ongoing development of your senses lay the foundation for your learning experiences and cognitive growth at all ages and stages of life.

Thanks to your senses, you continue to be provided with information and motivation as to how you understand, relate to, and create your life journey.  

If you want to learn, live, and lead effectively, your senses will be one of the greatest determining factors of your success.  Keep developing and honouring them. 

You can do this in a variety of simple ways, such as intentionally smelling more flowers, savouring flavours as you eat, tuning into daily life sounds, enjoying longer hugs, appreciating sunsets, and much more.  

Let your senses guide you!

To Your Fit Brain & Fit Life,