Recently, an online video called ‘Free Hugs’ went viral. It told the story of a person holding a sign up in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall advertising ‘FREE HUGS’. While people started off ignoring him, one by one they eventually began to go over and take him up on his offer. While watching, I spotted a friend of mine. I knew he would never pass up an offer like that – and sure enough, he went over for his hug, too. It was a touching video, and a great reminder of how important these moments in life are.
We hug our babies, and receive endless joy from that simple act – but so often in our adult life, we lose sight of that connection with others. Yet hugging can work in many magical ways, bringing us into a state of surrender, helping us to feel good and allowing us to do something loving and selfless when another is in need.
In my own experience, being a mere 5”1 means that receiving a hug can sometimes be awkward. I was often forced to step on tippy toes so I could reach the other person, which stretched out my whole body, making it somewhat uncomfortable. But over the years of becoming a hugging expert, I’ve learned that if someone is taller than me, they can easily come down to my level to give me a hug!
I’ve noticed that people use all kinds of methods to hug each other. There’s the tent hug, where we hold ourselves away and only hug the top part of our bodies together, and the trucker’s hug, where we just pat the other person on the back, without even making any body contact at all. When we hug someone but hold on to our own arms, I call this one the self-hug. Then there’s the one that is my worst nightmare: the bear hug! Men often go in for this one, and you’re literally squeezed so hard that you think your ribs are going to break and you can no longer breathe.
We often miss the point of a hug… but there is a way to hug where both people can feel aligned with each other. It’s a hug from the heart, where body contact is made and you both feel totally connected over a period of time. You can practice with your beloved, or just start to hug people in this way and notice the different feelings it brings to you and your hug buddy.
Start off by bringing your feet into alignment, then bend your knees slightly and allow one person to come into the other person’s body. Now bring your arms behind onto the back, placing one hand on the bottom of the spine and the other near the heart. Next, place your head on the person’s shoulders and just hang out and breathe. This is a full body hug. Stay there for some time and notice the different quality of this type of hug.
Often I have clients who go to shake my hand after a session, and instead I offer them this hug. I can always feel them surrendering as they receive love. It’s great to see their defenses come down, and as humans, we respond very powerfully to this simple act.
It takes a little practice to get used to hugging this way – but believe me, it’s well worth the effort.