How I learned about the healing power of hugs.
I first learned the power of a hug from my 4 year old son. I remember, vividly, how I was crying in the kitchen while washing dishes. I don’t remember why I was crying, but maybe it had something to do with being a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids under the age of 6, and it was the end of the day (the hardest career you’ll ever experience but worth every minute).
Back to the kitchen:
All of a sudden, my little boy appeared in my peripheral vision. As I turned to see what he needed, he looked up at me and just wrapped his little arms around my legs and hugged me. The hug was so powerfully healing that, instantly, I felt all of the love in the universe come into my legs and up into the rest of my body. This child felt so much compassion that he instinctively knew what to do!
I stopped crying, of course. Well, maybe I cried a little more as I bent down and hugged him back.
How many daily hugs do we need to survive?
Virginia Satir, was one of the first psychotherapists and family therapist to speak about the importance of hugs and physical touch. She is well known for the quantifying of daily hugs:
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival,
We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance,
We need 12 hugs a day for growth”.
Hugs Change our Biochemistry
Hugging releases dopamine (controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers), serotonin (regulates mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, sexual desire and social behavior) endorphins (natural pain and stress fighters) and oxytocin (love or cuddle hormone) which reduces your levels of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin). When stress goes down, your immune system (located mostly in your gut) works better. The pressure of a hug may stimulate your thymus gland, located at the center of your chest and responsible for the regulation and balance of your white blood cells that protect you from infections and foreign invaders. Less stress also lowers your heart rate and blood pressure which may reduce your potential risk for heart disease.
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who made hugging meditation famous, is a global leader whose key teaching is that through mindfulness people can learn to live in the present moment. He believes that a good hug may have life-changing effects on the individual. He writes about his pursuit of hugging meditation:
“When we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we are not separate beings. Hugging with mindfulness and concentration can bring reconciliation, healing, understanding and much happiness.”
With love, health and hugs,
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*If you have any thoughts about the healing power of hugs, please comment below.*