By Nancy Ayash
The rocking chair was part of colonial life; it was an American phenomenon. Although it came to the colonies by way of England as a garden chair, new Americans quickly moved it into their homes as a cradling device for mother and child. The rocking chair grew so popular among the colonists that by 1750 the American Windsor Rocking Chair, built in Philadelphia, became known worldwide.
Generations of Americans grew up with the rocking chair; it was a common and functional piece of furniture in almost every home. A rocking chair provided the means to help a fussy child to sleep; soothe emotional wounds; and provide comfort in times of illness. But the rocking chair’s purpose was mainly used to ensure an emotional bond between mother and child.
A baby that’s rocked to sleep benefits greatly; the infant isn’t alone in a cradle; his mother IS the cradle; back and forth; back and forth; slowly picking up a rhythm, with the sound of humming or a sweet lullaby. The neural network of the infant’s brain is taking in signals; all is well; I’m with you; we’re moving together.
Most children never get that signal. They’re placed into their cribs with a bottle or pacifier and expected to sleep. Some will cry; others will stare at inner space; but that crucial intimate message is never received. Emotional stability is lost.
Today we’re discovering how important the rocking chair is for psychosocial well-being; its use has spread far beyond the mother/child cradle, and can be a cure for a wide range of health problems.
Studies by the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing and the Center for Clinical Research on Aging have shown the gentle motion of a rocking chair releases endorphins; a chemical known to improve mood and lessen pain. The study confirms that Rocking Chair Therapy increases the quality of life for people suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Medical College of Virginia conducted a study that shows the calming movement of a rocking chair can dramatically speed up the healing process in severely ill patients. In addition, the rocking chair is now being used as therapy for post-surgery recovery.
According to Dr. Heinrich Addleheim of the Kinetic Therapy Clinic in Berlin, Germany, the rocking chair is simply amazing, “We’ve seen cases of patients recuperating from heart attack and stroke – without any trace of permanent damage – simply because they used a rocking chair while they were recovering. I’ve seem people bedridden with arthritis who were up and around inside a week after regular use of the rocking chair. . . it’s not just a piece of furniture; it’s a remarkable medical device.”
Rocking Chair Therapy is being applied to the following:
o Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
o Heart Disease
o Surgical Recovery
o Mental Illness
In closing, let’s not forget the people who have felt a great affection for their rocking chairs; Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Bertholt Brecht, Pablo Picasso, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Benjamin Franklin.
The American colonists bestowed upon us many gifts; a great Republic, and a great chair.
Nancy Ayash is a freelance writer currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. [http://www.creativewordz.com]