Yesterday I’ve read a story about Amma who has an ashram in India and travels around the world and lovingly gives hugs to everyone who wishes to receive one. It is amazing how such a simple and always available gesture may become a global action of kindness and love. The simple truth is that hugging is essential for our wellbeing. Even more, this way of human contact is required for us to be who we are because it is literally about embracing and accepting ourselves and others right here and right now.
A great number of studies from various disciplines have shown a wonderful impact of hugging as it boosts our relationships and physical and emotional health. (If someone is curious to know more about hugging and biochemical and physiological reactions in our body, I can refer to this article).
There is some internal magnet that draws us to be in this hugging space. I am always amused when I quietly come nearby and sit close enough to my son while he is playing or watching TV; and he starts leaning towards me or climbing on me and still doing what he was doing.
Hugging is considered to be a natural thing to do in a private realm of family and friends. But what happens in the social? Many times I’ve noticed how people test and feel the physical boundaries without even realizing it. How far or close can we stay to each other? What forms of contact are appropriate? And it seems that quite often we allow ourselves less than our inner magnet would suggest because we measure this interaction in a certain way and it has to fit in our scale of what’s appropriate. Therefore, we may delight and smile at a child who doesn’t care about social measurement tools yet and just talks to a stranger or gets into your lap at a party if she/he feels like it.
What I absolutely loved, among many other things, at the coaching trainings at the Hendricks Institute was an open space for hugging – even with “strangers”, people you’ve just met. At any time it was possible to give and receive hugs – and ask for one when you needed it. Interestingly, after just one hug new people are not strangers any more.
P.S. Here are two videos for more inspiration:
Katie and Gay Hendricks demonstrate a 20-second hug:
Neuroekonomist Paul Zak recommends eight hugs a day:
P.P.S. If you come across good articles or videos on a power of hugging please share them with me on this page. Many hugs to you.