“Hold my hand” invites Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish.
“I want to love you,
the best that,
the best that I can.”
Oh my. Is it actually that easy? Is the simple intimate act of holding another’s hand a way to show our best love? Give me your hand, I invite you for a little hand holding analysis…
“Hold my hand.” An expression of SECURITY.
This command is one I spoke often to my sons when they were young. The connection that followed, their beautiful pudgy hands grasping mine; my large palm creating the perfect nest for these little gifts – it spoke volumes. It said” I will protect you.” “I will keep you safe.” That moment of embrace; I can still feel the weight of their big blue eyes – with lashes you could ski off of – looking up at me silently saying “I trust you Mommy”.
Man, even now – ages 20 and 21, I just “want to love them the best that, the best that I can”.
Of course, there were also times when I used that maternal connection to coerce them to comply. Pulling (more like dragging) their little hands through the store away from the candy isle. Or those times when I needed to pull them from danger or an imaginary boundary they just crossed, or thought of crossing – the tug gently bringing them back to safety. Even though they likely did not see or feel the danger at all. Those little connections usually ended with some tears. Tough love. But the best love I had to give, nonetheless.
As a parent do you remember those times when the simple act of inviting your child to hold your hand propelled you to superhero status? Know that your kid(s), even if they are young adults, would still appreciate on some level (even if it a subliminal spark) the holding of your hand. It just might be what they need to remind them you are still here to protect them – no matter how much they make you believe they can do life on their own. It might just be what you need to remind you that you are loving them the best that you can even when it feels like you are no longer their superhero.
“Give me your hand.” An expression of COMPASSION.
I love both giving and receiving this one. A gesture of assistance, guidance, or an offering of comfort. This type of hand holding is appreciated if you are lost in the utter darkness of your journey. Life is difficult. That is the whole point. Connection during difficult times is paramount to getting through these twists and turns. Our hands are energetic portals of our body. They are complexly connected to our brains. Did you know that our hands contain the highest concentrations of nerve endings in the body? Isn’t that fascinating? Offering to take someone’s hand is a vulnerable and powerful gift. It is sharing your energy with another who might just need a jolt of your soulshine!
So many examples of these offerings come to mind. But there is one that is particularly moving to me, even 20 years later.
I found myself lying in a hospital bed hooked up to all kinds of telling machines, frightened out of my mind at the thought I might deliver a baby at 30 weeks. I was alone. My husband was travelling. My older son (just 18 months) was at daycare where I left him that morning on my way to work. I was frozen in fear. This, by the way, was life before cell phones. There was no phone in my curtained “room” so I could not put an all points bulletin for HELP. Instead, I felt alone and terrified. The door opened and in walked the Rev. Ken Powell. The minister from the church I belonged to. I swear he entered with a white light surrounding him. His mere presence brought a sense of calm. He explained he was visiting another member of our church and on his way out decided to check the roster to see if there was anyone else he should pay a visit and he saw my name. I started to cry uncontrollably as I also attempted to explain what the doctor (who had absolutely no bedside manner) shared with me. Basically, the amniocentesis showed the baby’s lungs were not developed and if they could not stop my contractions I would be sent, via ambulance, to Boston where they were better equipped to handle this “type of situation”. I was sitting with the heaviness of this information at the moment Rev. Powell entered the room. I finished my story, with tears streaming down my face and needing to blow my nose, I’m sure. He looked down at me with those kind eyes of his (anyone that knew this man can feel exactly what I am talking about) and he said “Give me your hands, let’s pray together.” At that moment listening to his peaceful voice sending prayers out to the Universe, I knew my baby would be ok. How could he not be –clearly there were angels flapping all around this baby. I felt the energy of them holding my hands.
Our parasympathetic nervous system, which is that part of our nervous system that announces to our body “all is right with the world” is stimulated with touch. This is a biochemical fact. When stressed, the simple act of touch from another reduces the level of the stress hormone, cortisol. When cortisol levels are high due to stress our skin actually gets more sensitive. During this heightened sensitivity when someone asks us to give them our hand as a gesture of comfort BAM! that connection sends the “ALL CLEAR” message through our nerves to our brain which invites our cortisol levels to lower. Lower cortisol benefits our heart, our circulatory system and our brain because blood flow is going back to these organs as they retreat from our extremities (which is where they go when we are in that fight or flight pattern of stress). You see, holding hands is actually healthy at times of uncertainty and stress.
“Let’s shake on it.” An expression of TRUST.
Often we are invited to seal the deal with a gripping of each others hands. This is the business element of the hand holding connection. We call this a handshake. In some circles (think 8th grade boy) this gesture is as powerful as signing a contract. The mere gesture elicits an element of trust. Doesn’t that just make sense? The energy of one human being connecting, honoring, the energy of another. When we offer our hand in greeting another we acknowledge the person before us and show some confidence in them, and receive the same. This is why handshakes (and how they’re done) play such a vital part in business meetings – we want to feel that we can trust the other people in the room. Beginning and ending a meeting with a simple handshake is that unwritten contract that honor and trust are part of the conversation.
“Let’s join hands.” An expression of SOLIDARITY
Act of togetherness. These days we are all fired up about how we can join forces to make our voices heard. Joining hands is mighty. It is a statement of solidarity. Which incites a feeling of belonging to something, standing for something – and that you are not in it alone. From a palmistry perspective, the palm represents a miniature version of the self. Each point reflecting back to a part of your body. By holding hands you are effectively joining the microcosm of your world with the microcosm of another. A grand gesture in the expression of togetherness.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the awkward Thanksgiving table at my house every year when I ask everyone to join hands to say a prayer of thanksgiving. Even among family members, some close, some only seen annually, it is a vulnerable act. However, I do not believe it is one that any of us regrets taking part in, even if it is forcefully executed.
“I want to hold your hand.” An expression of LOVE, ADMIRATION.
Awe. The mother of all hand holding. The one that combines all of the others. The silent gesture of taking another’s hand sings “I want to connect with you.” “I am honored to be with you.” “You make me happy.” I have always been envious of couples strolling by me holding hands. This intimate gesture seems so casual, yet also one of the most intimate of physical displays of affection. The way one hand envelopes another is both innocent and sweet. Yes, it is a form of affection, maybe even romance or love but at it’s core it is vulnerable – you are exposing your admiration for another.
An interesting biochemical fact here is that when holding hands in a romantic way it releases oxytocin which is a hormone that strengthens long term relationships and increases the amount of affection in a couple. We have already talked about hands being portals of our energy, we have discussed the power the touch has during times of stress. When “courting” (I’m going to use that expression because the expression dating seems to connote something different nowadays) handholding as a couple allows another to slowly enter our personal space, which is a form of intimacy that is not practiced enough (hence my staying away from “dating”). Maybe it is not practiced in our iWorld because of fear that this vulnerable act will be rejected. Truly, who would not accept a hand that has been extended? I don’t think any of you reading this blog would deny a hand held out to you. I know I wouldn’t.
It doesn’t have to be romantic, and it certainly doesn’t always mean something. But, to take the energetic portal of another human being… it is both pleasing and wonderfully powerful.
I dare you. Reach out to someone each and every day with the extension of your hand.
- Do it as an act of security for another.
- Do it as an act of guidance or comfort to your loved ones.
- Do it as an act of trust and honor to your fellow humans.
- Do it as an act of solidarity to stand for something you believe in.
- Do it as an act of love and kindness to anyone and everyone.
If nothing else, do it merely to make a connection with a fellow human being. Hootie is spot on here –
“With a little peace and some harmony
we will take the world together,
we’ll take ‘em by the hand.”
p.s. The artwork of Hands displayed in this post are the genius of Hanna Washburn. You can find more of her work at hannawashburn.com.
p.s.s. If you want to access the playlist that inspired this post, follow me on Spodify – just search graceisgenius and click on follow. There you can access the “Hold My Hand” playlist.