When was the last time you gave someone a hug? Or had one yourself?
Think back to that time. What did it feel like? I don’t mean just the physical feel of it. I mean the WHOLE thing.
Science has of course studied this phenomena. It has been validated as a good thing. More than that in fact. It has been established that touch is essential for emotional well being. Babies who are not cuddled fail to thrive for lack of touch! That’s how important it is.
Therapeutic touch is a modality that is gaining more recognition and acceptance. In some training institutions it is included in the nursing curriculum. It is used to help relieve pain, depression, anxiety.
Touch releases feel good hormones and reduces stress levels. It boosts the immune system. Research is showing now that touch, whether it be massage, holding hands, intimacy, cuddling pets or hugging is a good thing to do.
So let’s have a closer look at hugs. Many years ago Kathleen Keating published The Little Book of Hugs. We have it in our bookshelf. It was a Father’s Day present to TRH (The Retired Husband) from son number 1 way back in 1989. A light hearted approach to a serious subject, it offers a guide to hugging and developing advanced skills as a Hug Therapist. To qualify as a hugger or a huggee all you have to do is just be, she says. It’s for everybody.
She goes on to describe Ethics and Rules of Conduct. Respect, permission, sensitivity to name a few.
The fee ? ‘The strength it requires to be vulnerable.’
When to hug ? Anyplace is right
What time ? Any time, morning, noon or night
Hugs may be accompanied by sound effects like aaaah *smile*
A Bear Hug is warm, supportive and secure. It’s good for families and friends.
The A-frame hug, whilst more formal is good for those brief hugs between work colleagues or people you don’t know that well.
Cheek hugs can be comforting and good for those times when less body contact is called for.
Sandwich hugs, on the other hand, are cosy, soothing and great between two parents and a kid.
The Grabber-Squeezer-hug is good to go when you’re in a rush.
Group hugs have had a lot of air space. Don’t scoff them though. They give a strong message of unity, solidarity and belonging.
Side-to-side hugs help to pass the time if you’re waiting in line with a friend.
Then there’s the Back-to-front hugs that tend to be waist grabbers. These can have an element of surprise and fun.
Heart-centred hugs on the other hand are really special. They are deep, gentle, unconditionally loving, with full body contact.
Custom-tailored hugs – well, here’s where creativity comes in. Like if you’re really short and the other person is really tall, or it has to include a favourite toy, or a pet.
And then there’s the advanced hugs:
Visualisation is for those times when you need a hug or when you want to give one but it’s not possible. With practice, imagining it is almost as good as the real thing.
Zen hugging is done in a Zen kind of way – when you’re both super relaxed.
That extra touch is used to supplement and add depth to any of the other hugs by patting or stroking as an added extra.
“Hugging should not be something you do once in a while , at family reunions or birthdays or when one of your teammates makes a goal. Our hope is that hugging will become commonplace, without detracting from the specialness of each hug.
Hug often, Hug well. “
® Raili Tanska