“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it always tells the truth” – Margaret Atwood

Just like the elves that sweep into the shoe shop during the night time to repair any shoes that are in need of some handy-work in the fairy tale ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’, so the Wellness therapists sweep through the camps in Londolozi like silent elves to work on any bodies that are in need of some down-time of their own.

Caylie Maher Sketch

The love language of touch – sketch by Londolozi Therapist Caylie Maehr

We are often presented with the same question, from both guests and staff alike:

What is it about touch that makes you wish to work within another person’s personal space with your hands?

From an external perspective, this is a relevant and good question.

Gary Chapman’s 1995 bestselling book, titled “The Five Love Languages” outlines five fundamental ways we, as humans, express, experience and understand love.

These involve giving gifts, spending quality time with other(s), words of affirmation, acts of service, and affection through physical touch.

We use all, some, or one of these depending on our individual natures… Ultimately communicating our affections, emotions, and desires to one another through these various forms of love.

One of the most special parts of Chapman’s book is the fact that, once we understand these love languages within our own actions, we can see and receive them from others too. Of course, this covers friends, acquaintances, partners, work colleagues and lovers alike.

With this in mind, the act of physical touch is ultimately the front-running sensory means of expression through which we, as therapists, as well as animals, are predominantly wired to use in order to connect with those around us.

Benefits are seen to stem from the very beginning of life, as new-borns are placed on the chest of the mother to soothe and comfort the new life. Out here, in Africa, we witness touch in the primates around us which spend between 10 to 20 percent of their waking day grooming one other. We witness big cats nuzzling each other and elephants interlinking trunks as a means of close communication.

If we then return to the idea of physical touch among humans, from a physiological perspective, working on the surface of the skin involves the somatosensory system, which links directly to the sensory nervous system within the body.

By stimulating various receptor cells on the surface of the skin, messages are sent along neurons to the brain for processing. These messages reach the brain and a few things happen;

Basic warm touch initiates the body’s relaxation response by stimulating the vagus nerve – the body’s largest cranial nerve that controls the involuntary nervous system and controls all unconscious procedures in the body such as breathing, digestion, and heart rate.

Touch also triggers the release of ‘the love hormone’ oxytocin, which floods the body with a feeling of bliss and happiness and is easily witnessed in the relaxed body-language, seen through our eyes us as we work during a session.

Cath Souch Land Rover Love Ey

By knowing that this is all happening on a physical level, we also know that most people function from within their heads rather than from within their bodies; making decisions, plans, sticking to schedules, deadlines etc… And by catalysing these various sensations within the body through our array of various sessions, we can see that the hands-on touch puts a person back into a place of functioning from within the body, through the senses… essentially a reconnection to one’s own body.

At Londolozi, the high-paced continuum of modern stress lifestyles is supplemented with the chance to slow down, reconnect with what and who is around, and appreciate simply experiencing life as it happens, rather than running on a mad, no-contact hamster wheel. As therapists, we see how the concept of touch has disappeared within the lifestyles of so many of our guests and thrive off being able to use our love language to bring a person back to earth through a thorough session of hands-on bodywork.

It’s essentially our conversation within the workspace; an inward inquiry as to what is happening on a physical level within the body, and the ability to work to release the tensions from a deeper level, restoring the body to a place of equilibrium or balance and reconnection of body, mind, soul. To provide a famous Londolozi treatment, but really, to facilitate the process of reconnection.

Our love language puts us into people’s vulnerable spaces which carry all sorts of weird and wonderful life-stories and body-things imaginable. Tales of triumph and loss, of dreams and love, to snores, to tears, to scars, sighs and tickly spots. All make for their own unique storyline.

And so, while touch is seen to be a necessity innate in humans and animals alike, we can recognize how we can find the biggest gifts through this love language of ours… That of healing and connection.

I suppose our work really is our ‘love made visible’.

What is your language of love?

Filed under Wellness

About the Author

Sam Burnell


Sam was born in Cape Town and is passionate about integrative bodywork therapies and healing concepts. Following two years of studies in Therapeutic Reflexology and Meridian therapy in Cape Town, she spent a year in SE Asia deepening her personal yoga practice, exploring ...

View Sam's profile


on The Love Language of Touch

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

This is a lovely blog Sam. Touch is so important to us. There is nothing as nice as a hug. If it is to say how are you, I am sorry, I am thinking if you, Thank you or I love you. It is the best medicine for stress.

Guy Lacy Chapman

Very powerful, Sam.

Denise Vouri

What a lovely article! It is so true that without the sense of touch, we humans don’t function very well. We need those handshakes, hugs, the gentle hand on a shoulder when things are going badly… there are lessons to be learned by observing our animals in the wild as well as our domesticated friends. So, on that note, I send a hug to you v

Michael & Terri Klauber

Sam, What a beautiful way to remind us of how important those 5 key parts of our language of love are! We will explore that for sure!

Gretchen Lindemann

I love everything about this! A beautiful message beautifully written. Thank you. 🙂

Ashraf Refat

This is so lovely !!

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
Add Profile