Years ago I wrote on a very popular American writing site and was mocked because each time I commented on someone else’s writing I chose to add a giant wordy HUGGGG to it. I mean, it just wasn’t a one-time thing- I was reminded many times that some thought it was ridiculous. I never stopped, nor will I.
People who know me in real life know I hug a lot– to an extent I should be carrying around at least 63 communicable diseases weekly. Yesterday one of my talented American friends, illustrator and author, Sharon Watts, sent me this video reminding me hugging was still just a work in progress. Watch this video and tell me if it doesn’t make your heart smile.
Why don’t you try it this week? What have you got to lose?
I love you Sharon, thank you for sending me this.
Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in these ways:
1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.
2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.
4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.
6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.
9. Hugs are so much like meditation
and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.
10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.
There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Eight or more might seem quite high, but while researching and writing this article I asked my child, “How many hugs a day do you like?” She said, “I’m not going to tell you how many I like, but it’s way more than eight.” That really made me smile and touched my heart. And, I realized how deep the need for hugs is.
Captain Patrick J. Brown of the FDNY had an uncanny ability to be exactly where he was needed at exactly the right time, most especially on 9/11/2001, when he perished, surrounded by scores of burn victims he was trying to evacuate from the World Trade Center. Everyone who knew Pat agreed that he would have been nowhere else that day. And yet, Pat was much more than a firefighter. Pat was a yoga devotee. A Black Belt in karate who taught the blind. An accomplished boxer. A USMC Vietnam War vet. A Broadway musical theatre buff. And throughout it all, a spiritual seeker. Many people whose lives he touched shared their stories and memories with his close friend and former fiancee. The result is an intimate and moving book, with first-person narratives illustrating Pat’s deep and varied life. Idiosyncratic, personal memories blend with career stories that illustrate what made him such an intuitive, beloved friend, and such a legend in the FDNY. He inspires us all. Proceeds go to Bent On Learning.
Sharon Watts–Express Yourself! was the message I wanted to convey to you, which triggered the 1970 song hook in my head, which led to this youtube, which had all these HUGGS! in it, which was perfect for you! And, as the last piece of synchronicity, Charles Wright was a member of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.