Learning the art of hugging can improve our relationships and help us feel good and nourished with everyone we embrace. Love and nurturing are free, easy to give and receive and so necessary for our well-being.
Insights Into the Art of Hugging
How do you hug?
1) Pat on the back? (“Burp”)
2) Avoid eye contact after you hug? (“No-lookie hug”)
3) Embrace so tight that the person can hardly breathe? (“Bear hug”)
4) Hold your partner with only one arm? (“One-handed hug”)
5) Only connect at the shoulders? (“A-frame hug”)
6) Allow only your stomach to have physical contact? (“Belly hug”)
7) Connect only at the hip? (“Hip hug”)
Do you recognize yourself? Is hugging a fulfilling experience for you? Did you have parents who felt comfortable hugging? Are you hugging others the way you were hugged? Or have you consciously chosen to hug in a different way?
As a Marriage, Family, Therapist, speaker, and workshop facilitator, I have had the opportunity to give and receive many hugs. For example, at the end of each counseling session, I ask the client if they would like a hug. Most of the time the man or woman welcomes one with a smile. As we embrace, I can tell how much the person is open to touching, and giving and receiving love, or if they are just unaware of how they are hugging.
One client, Dave, was having trouble in his relationship with his girlfriend, Susan. At the end of a session, he patted me on the back (burp) as we embraced. In a loving, fun way I told Dave how I experienced his hug and gave him some suggestions. The following week, Susan came in for her session. With a big smile on her face, she said, “Thank you Helene for teaching Dave how to hug. I am so grateful! His hugs never felt good but I didn’t know how to tell him.”
As I embraced many people, I noticed that some individuals naturally like to touch more than others. It is helpful to know whether you are a “toucher” or a “non-toucher” (on a spectrum) so that you can honor and accept yourself and others.
The individuals who are uncomfortable touching others are more likely to do all of the above hugs except the Bear Hug. Of course, that is obviously a “toucher.” In either case, it is helpful to learn how to hug in a nurturing way. Then the “non-toucher” may give a shorter hug and embrace fewer people but at least their hug will be fulfilling for them and the other person.
Up until now, I have addressed the unconscious hugger and the “toucher” or “non-toucher.” There is a third group of people that I refer to as the “anxious huggers.” That is, they have one or more concerns or negative thoughts that keep them from indulging in a warm, loving embrace. These may include the following:
a) “I don’t want to give the impression that I like him/her, or want a sexual experience.”
b) “I am afraid of getting too close and getting hurt again.”
c) “I don’t trust men or women.”
d) “It is only appropriate to embrace people I know and only when I want to be sexual.”
In my opinion, a hug is a loving action complete in itself. Our arms are made for hugging, our hearts are made to express love, and our spirit loves to express deep caring. Learning the art of hugging can improve our relationships and help us feel good and nourished with everyone we embrace. Love and nurturing are free, easy to give and receive and so necessary for our well-being.
Most people seem to be unaware of how they hug and automatically do what was done to them. The art of hugging has definitely not been a subject taught in school.
If you would like to experience a powerful, safe, and fulfilling embrace, try the following seven steps of what I call a “Spiritual Hug.” You can do this with a partner, family, friend, or anyone else.
1) Look into your partner’s eyes and silently acknowledge that you are open to sharing this loving experience with each other
2) Slowly and gently embrace by wrapping both arms around one another
3) Keep your hands still on your partner’s back
4) Focus on the center of your chest (your heart centers)
5) Imagine that you are inhaling and exhaling love in the form of pink light (sending and receiving love energy)
6) Gently disengage from the embrace
7) Look again into the eyes of each other and express gratitude non-verbally and verbally for the healing, loving hug you just received
Give yourself, others, and the world the beautiful gift of the spiritual hug at least four times a day. Enjoy it, share the information with others, and know that you are making a wonderful contribution to love and peace on earth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MFT, is a Marriage, Family Therapist, intuitive counselor, speaker, and author.