Sometimes all I need is a hug. I can’t describe why, but I know it’s important…
Nothing warms the heart like a loving hug. The power of touch has long been used in healing, and I believe it’s because when we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we’re not separate beings. In the warmth of a hug, words are unnecessary and logic is irrelevant — you simply feel the affection, joy, forgiveness, peace, and happiness. You feel cared about and that there’s someone who’s there for you, without judgments.
Hugs for your health
Studies have demonstrated that human touch has incredible qualities to relax the nervous system, calm the mind, and lower heart rate. It’s even thought to improve our immune function as well as induce the release of important mood-boosting brain hormones serotonin and dopamine.
The 20-second hug
The average length of a hug between two people is 3 seconds. But research has shown that when a hug lasts 20 seconds or more, the real therapeutic effects rush through the body and mind.
There’s actually a meditation dedicated to the transformative power of hugging called “mindful hugging”. The practice made popular by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, has you hug for the span of three breaths. The first honours your presence in the moment; the second honours the other person; and the third is dedicated to the feelings of happiness and gratitude that arise from your togetherness.
The lost art of hugging
Hugs are underrated—especially the tight squeezy ones where you can literally feel another’s heartbeat, where they refuse to let go until you feel better; and for a moment everything is so calm, it feels as if nothing could hurt you…
To embrace one another with our whole heart is perhaps the greatest act of understanding and appreciation there is. Without words, it is the gift of shared humanity. And yet despite this poignant affect — or perhaps precisely because of it; we rarely give each other this gift.
Zesty Hugs, Zesty Life
One of the most potent forms of living a Zesty Life is the intimate bravery of letting ourselves be seen, of connecting with others and diving into the vulnerability necessary for openhearted living. Hugging is an excellent method for practising this—mindfully sinking into a hug, not just for the sake of appearances, but really breathing consciously and hugging with all your body, heart, and soul. When you do that, the energy of your care and appreciation will penetrate into that person and you will be mutually nourished.
Why we need hugs
It has been said that, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Whether those exact numbers have been scientifically proven, I don’t know, but there is a great deal of scientific evidence related to the importance of hugs and physical contact. Here are some reasons why you should increase your daily hug dosage…
Hugs keep you young
Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “trust hormone,” is responsible for those indescribable good feelings we get when we’re hugging. In fact, UC Berkeley researchers have discovered that Oxytocin levels drop as we age, and that drop has a contributing factor to the deterioration of our bodies as we age. Researchers found that by increasing Oxytocin levels, it created a staggering affect on the ability to repair muscle damage—up to 80 percent faster.
Hugs combat heart disease
When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels—cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Hugs boost your immune system
Feeling threatened and stressed can promote an over-aggressive immune system, leading to damage to bodily systems, and increased risk of a variety of illnesses. However, being hugged makes us feel safer and cared for, which buffers against stressful experiences and protects us from an over-aggressive immense system.
Hugs reduce pain
Hugging can alleviate pain in a number of ways. The first is by releasing endorphins which block pain pathways, the second is by improving circulation which removes pain peptides.
Hugs combat lonliness
Hugs release oxytocin, a hormone and neurotransmitter which regulates bonding and social interaction. This spikes feelings of empathy, compassion and generosity; helping you feel more connected and less isolated.
Hugs brighten the mood
Hugging can brighten things up, even on gloomy days. So next time you see someone in pain or feel as if the world falling is apart around you, open yourself to a hug.
Increase your dosage
I encourage you to make an effort to up your hug dosage as a Recipe for your Zesty Life. To establish a practice of mindful hugging; to experience the love that is everywhere always. Surrender to the embrace and total relaxation to receive love and joy…