An awesome hug is an exquisite gift you can give yourself (and others) today. Here’s how to do it properly.
A hug is this fascinating human gesture that has us press another person’s body into our own as a way of saying,
“I so deeply value your presence that I’m taking this exact moment to feel you, smell you, breathe with you – essentially stamp your being into my cellular memory so that even though we may be soon apart, you will in fact always be with me in the living fabric of my existence.”
I know some men (and women) are often unsure about embracing others. In today’s world a genuine hug can still be a radical gesture. But a stiff, inauthentic hug is like a limp handshake: mostly pointless and deeply unsatisfying.
After all, a good hug is physically and emotionally healthy for you (ocytocin, dopamine, bonding, decreased stress, etc). They’re also just plain awesome, if you really give yourself to the experience.
So in the interest of your health and happiness, her are 8 Steps to an Awesome Hug:
1. Hug like you mean it.
Hugging some people is like hugging a telephone pole. Although I can literally hug the hell out of a telephone pole (that’s me in the main pic), an awesome hug is a two-person co-created gig. Granted, some people just aren’t ready for an awesome hug, for whatever reason. They might not be comfortable with affection, might be in a rush, or they simply might not trust you, regardless whether they have good reason. An awesome hug can quickly turn creepy hug when you feel your partner initiate the disconnect but you won’t let go. So hug like you mean it, but if you feel your partner moves to let go, then let go and live to hug another day. However, if you suddenly find yourself in an embrace with awesome hug potential – or if you’re uncomfortable hugging others and would like to experience an awesome hug—read on.
2. Be willing to be vulnerable. Open your arms.
The act of hugging is an inherently vulnerable act. As we open our arms, we expose our chest, our very heart, to the person before us. It’s a complete gesture of vulnerability, letting the other person know that we trust them enough in this moment to grant them passage into our personal space. You can’t experience an awesome hug if you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable. That’s why so many hugs these days are stiff and unsatisfying. Too many of us are afraid to let each other in. So if you’re with someone you know will behave respectfully inside your embrace, take the risk and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Open your arms and …
3. Close your eyes.
4. Breathe into the embrace
Once the embrace has begun, rather than immediately unplug the hug before an authentic embrace has even happened, take a deep breath. Allow yourself at least one deep breath before you even think about releasing. So often, we quickly disconnect our hugs because we’re afraid of holding the other beyond their comfort zone – and especially our own. But you’d be amazed how many people are starving for affection. Are you? We don’t lovingly touch each other enough. We’re literally dying to be touched. That longer, deeper embrace you’re willing to share just might be medicine for the person you’re embracing. It’s probably medicine for you, too.
5. Lean into the embrace.
I’m not a fan of the “tent hug,” that hug where we create a tent by sticking our butts out so far because we’re afraid our genitalia might touch. This is a non-sexual hug here, but it’s ok that our bodies touch. In fact, the most delicious, satisfying hugs are those where two bodies really meet each other, chakras all lined up and zapping each other with good vibes. Unfortunately, because we live in a culture still sexually disoriented, an awesome hug does risk jiggling repressed hot buttons we don’t want jiggled.
So if you feel body heat stirring in that embrace, first, it’s totally ok. If you’re heterosexual and embracing another man feels really great, it doesn’t mean you’re turning homosexual.* It just means your body is craving to be touched, and it’s ok that it feels good. Second, breathe it in and enjoy it if you like, but don’t act on it. You don’t have to do anything with that heat. And really, you shouldn’t. No one wants to hug someone they’re not attracted to who starts inappropriately grinding their pubis up against their body. This is a friendly hug. Honor that boundary.
*I don’t mean to imply being gay is bad. It’s so not. But for men who are still working it all out, that sentence will be helpful.
6. Squeeze, but don’t suffocate.
A true hug is an embrace, an encircling, a loving act of surrounding another to let them know they are safe, accepted, loved. Beyond the superficial world available to our mortal eyes, a genuine embrace is a deep form of embodied communication by which one beating heart can whisper to another, “I see you.” An awesome hug is definitely NOT an imposition on another. We do not temporarily imprison another in our arms. Rather, it’s firm enough to say “I’ve got you” and loose enough to say “you’re free to leave whenever you want.”
7. Just BE with the person you’re embracing.
An awesome hug is a mindful practice. It’s a moment to really be with another human. The very gesture itself is a curious, even if ultimately futile, attempt by two bodies to occupy the same space at the same time. We’re literally pressing our bodies together as if to say, let’s just both be here together, as one body, in this one place, at this very moment in time. It’s really an extraordinary gesture. Give yourself to the experience and really be here, in this brief moment, with this one person. Drink in the scent of their hair (it’s totally ok to do so), notice the pressure of their body pressing against yours, notice all the thoughts that arise in your mind, and then simply let them pass. Be here now.
8. Let go. Smile. Breathe.
Absolutely nothing in life is meant to last forever. An awesome hug ends with the simple act of letting go. Letting go is one of the most powerful lessons we can learn in this lifetime. It’s our way of actively participating in Life’s evolution, for there can be no new creation if we hold on to what once was. But if you do it right, that awesome hug will linger with you like sweet perfume for a brief moment, and you’ll be able to recall it in your mind whenever you want to. Nonetheless, it’s time for you both to let go and return to your separate journeys. Just know that the electrical magnetic fields of your two heart beats intertwined in that embrace and so you are, indeed, now indelibly marked by each other’s being. You literally carry information about each other in your bodies. And that’s no woo-woo metaphysics—that’s for real!
Now go hug somebody like you mean it. Lives may depend on it.
Originally posted on This Wild Waking Journey
Photo Bryan Reeves (the author)