Meditation & Health #22- Hugs for the Soul Embrace the Affection
Hugs for the Soul Embrace the Affection
By Caral Goh
A heartfelt embrace is a magical experience providing many physical and emotional benefits, both to the giver and the receiver. A hug from the heart can mean the difference between despair and hope. This physical expression of love is essential to human wellbeing.
The Magic of Hugs
Remember when we were kids who fell down and scraped our knees, only to be saved by a hug and a cuddle from our mother? Her embrace worked like magic; the pain just vanished. When we were older and our ego was bruised by life’s tumbles, an unconditional warm hug from a loved one prompted a return of positive energy that gave us the strength to face the world again.
A familiar Buddhist statue reminds us of the power of hugs: A buddha with a protruding belly and a jolly smile embraces the children who joyfully surround him; all radiate happiness, acceptance and bliss.
Hugs trigger the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” making us feel warm and appreciated. A loving hug given to your spouse in the morning before leaving for work strengthens the relationship by providing reassurance, conveying care, and elevating mood. A warm hug boosts the receiver’s self-esteem, reinforcing to them that they are worthy of affection and support.
This therapeutic gesture also reduces the amount of cortisol produced in the body, a stress hormone that is known to weaken the immune system. A decrease in the cortisol level relieves feelings of stress and anxiety.
A hug can surpass a thousand words of well-meant advice. This nonverbal communication melts loneliness, and helps to combat fear and defuse tension. Some people are shy and withhold their emotions, neither giving hugs nor expecting to receive any. Initiating a friendly hug conveys the message “Everything will be fine” and “I am here with you.” A hug given to a withdrawn person may just bring about a smile and lift the introvert out of distress and disappointment, and may encourage them to be more open with their feelings.
Expression of Bonding
A kind, gentle and caring hug is an expression of bonding and the positive effects of a mutual embrace are far-reaching. A loving hug given to a child in the morning before sending them off to school boosts their self-esteem and builds confidence. In turn, their optimism helps them to go through the rest of the day with a spring in their step and courage in their heart.
As hugging boosts immunity by triggering the release of oxytocin, regular hugs are fundamental to the healthy growth of children. Our skin is a sensory organ and every nerve ending is sensitive to touch. Skin contact such as through a hug is one of the stimulations that create smarter children who exemplify strong physical and cognitive development.
A nurturing hug given to a tantrum-throwing child can alleviate their stress and anxiety. Hugs calm an agitated child and help them return to optimism. Children must feel loved and secure in order to develop emotionally.
Welcoming your child into your open arms and embracing each other improves rapport, increasing the trust and connection between each other. Embrace your child with all your heart; give them the profound and essential gift of hug benefits.
Embrace Forgiveness to Dispel Animosity
Relationships with parents, siblings, spouse, children, peers, and co-workers can break down due to a misunderstanding, miscommunication or disagreement. When feelings are hurt, emotional bonds can weaken. Acknowledging the anger and resentment will let you know who you need to forgive.
Forgiveness is an opportunity to open our hearts and practice magnanimity. Look at the other person’s challenging behaviors through the lens of compassion, appreciate their positive qualities, and put aside any wrongs. The loving essence of forgiveness sheds bitterness and heals us. With love in place of a grudge, we can move on with our journey and renew our sense of purpose and hope.
One forgiveness therapy is hugging. When verbalizing is difficult, a hug can ease the burden that we might otherwise keep hauling for ages. The boost in oxytocin during an embrace releases tension in the body, easing pain and relaxing muscles. Hugs are powerful medicine.
A warm loving hug shows forgiveness and helps dispel hateful thoughts and churning emotions. Saying “I forgive you” or “I love you” or “Thank you” with a physical expression of appreciation such as a hug can rebuild a broken bond and reinforce an already strong one.
A Hug to Heal the Soul
Hugs not only give us a good feeling, they can open our compassion to others. Right after an argument with our loved ones, we usually have difficulty restoring the communication channels and restarting the connection. A hug can ease the way to further communication.
A genuine hug coming from the heart can banish hostility, free one of fears, and dispel doubts and concerns that may be lingering in a relationship. When we embrace another, we are more likely to empathize with perspectives other than our own which in turn helps us approach relationships without judgment.
Hugs should be given freely and often, as they are healers of the soul. As the soul is ageless, people of all ages need to be hugged, and need to give hugs. Never make the mistake of thinking that hugs are only for the very young or very old, or for the sick or grieving. Everyone in the world needs hugs, regardless of their age, emotional state, or living situation. Hugs make the world a brighter, kinder and gentler place to live.
An honest hug can solve problems that may seem insurmountable. An embrace can dissolve animosity. Opening the heart with compassion enriches life, expanding the space to allow an abundance of love to flow.
Genuine hugs teach us to give and receive warmth, permitting reconciliation and stronger relationships. Hugging from the soul opens closed hearts, sweetens bitter moments, and makes happy days happier.