The Power of Mindful Hugging
I love all of my students - at the end of each class, I always offer to share with them a unique and memorable finale to the day by offering a hug. It's not just any hug, I offer a 'meditative hug'! Some of them will reciprocate: others, well it's just not their thing anymore - but it still can be!
A meditative hug is not like any other.
It's a hug to fully acknowledge you. When I hug you, I want to affirm that we are not separate human beings. I want to offer more than just the experience of a simple hug. Even though I do not know what my students are feeling and experiencing in their day-to-day lives, I know that they are familiar with the emotions of anger, sadness, loneliness, as much as the emotions of happiness, joy and wonder. They might have past experiences bottled-up inside. In this moment, a hug can and will reach deep inside of us - it will be enough to feel and release any healing, reconciliation, and perhaps free us of any left-over guilt or self-criticism we might have with someone, or it might prompt us to return home after the class to go and hug a loved one you miss or need to forgive. For me, it's my way to truly say thank you for spending some of their life with me, even if it's just a day or two.
Practicing this type of mindful hugging with a friend, family member, a colleague at work or even practicing on your own (self-hugging) gives you a deeper appreciation of the other person (or perhaps, self). The best part of mindful hugging is that everyone hugs uniquely. Some people will simply want a short hug, whilst others grab you tight and want to feel you as a whole whilst sharing some wonderful words with you.
If you don't know how to mindfully hug, may I suggest that when we are in the act of hugging, we enjoy three deep and conscious in-breaths and out-breaths whilst thanking the other person and wishing them health, joy and peace.
When we hug in such a way, we realize that in uniting, we really are all one. We accept that there is a deep connection between every individual on this earth and that we embrace each other in life and love. It helps us confirm that we are alive and real, and that we need to embrace each other's worlds so we can actualize more of ourselves.
What is even more special about it is that it doesn't have to be a special occasion - you don't have to wait for a wedding or birthday. You can hug any time and feel the other person and ourselves in the present moment. Sometimes you may also wish to exchange a few words whether it's wishing them well, or saying sorry, or saying thank you for all the wonderful things that person has done. Or, you can hug in silence.
A hug can be a moment of 'renewal' or 'rebirth'. Through every new breath we have, we can affirm a 'new me' and release the past of any tension, guilt, sorrow and start afresh. What better time than to affirm this with another person.
A hug does not know "time". Sometimes you can hug someone for a second and feel you've had a deep connection with them. Other times, you may want to hug for a few minutes! One thing is for sure, a hug reminds us all that we are human, alive, and we have the ability to share love around the whole world.
Finally, I had an outrageous Italian immigrant mamma who was just an amazing human being who taught us the power of love and humor and the importance of togetherness. She would say that you can believe someone when you hug them. Before she passed away of illness many years ago, she came up to me at and gave me a hug that I have never forgotten to this day and she she said to me, "This is the hug you've always wanted!". We stood there for what seemed to be an eternity and indeed to this moment, I can feel her strength, warmth, smell, I know exactly how tall she is, hair color, and her entire being any time I want to conjure her up. That's the power of hugging and human touch. Please don't be afraid of it - if someone offers you a hug, have the courage to open your arms.
And with that, I light a flame in everyone who approaches me after a talk or training session with open arms to send the same message: I will give you the hug you've always wanted. For now, please practice with someone you love.
I wish you well, joy and peace in this very moment.
Thank you for reading. I wish you peace and happiness.
NB: This is an excerpt of a talk I give to groups, organizations and charities in and around APAC. The talk is called, "Love 101 for Teams and Organizations".