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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Season of Hugs

December should be declared National Hug Month. The holiday season brings with it lots of gatherings, gift-giving and celebrating. An intrinsic part of these occasions is our expression of love and appreciation for one another with a simple hug.
I had an exceptional hug yesterday. A hug that, for one moment, stopped me from thinking of anything except that I was loved. My friends’s arms embraced me. I was completely enfolded in her love. Hugs can be unsatisfying, leaving you wanting to take a shower and wash away the other person’s touch. Hugs can be wholesome and wholehearted. Hugs can be tentative, they can be stiff, they can be given with an awkward lean in -- so bodies do not touch. Hugs can hurt. Hugs can heal.
A reflection on the nature of hugs led me to research more about them. My investigation of the nature, meaning and origin of hugs convinced me that hugs are necessary for a healthy, fulfilling life. The sensation of touch is stimulated when we hold each other. Hugs have the ability to reduce illness, curb appetite, slow aging, build self-esteem and dispel loneliness. Apparently, hugs pack quite a punch! It bears saying the hugs that I was reading about were of an appropriate, healthy, and non-sexual type. The positive effect of hugs outweighs the real concern of an untoward, undesired advance.
A Google search brings up a vast number of self-proclaimed “hug experts”. To me, this seems like an oxymoron; in a hug, shouldn’t all pretense and posturing be put aside? However, there are sociologists and psychologists who have dedicated their lives' work to dissecting the common hug. Apparently, I was naive to think that the only prerequisite of becoming a hug expert is to hug a lot. Hug experts explore should questions as
......Why do hugs feel good? What is “hug therapy?” Are there scientific facts to back that claims that patients who receive daily hugs post-surgically do better than those that don’t? .......
This morning, I ran into an acquaintance of thirty years. I proffered my hand to shake his. He took my hand with his, then surprised me by giving me a hug. A sweet, unexpected, and kind hug that made me feel just a little bit more special.
Research shows that we need to hug each other more often. Experience shows we feel better when we do. After my reading on hugs, I hope to hug more confidently, more often, and with the knowledge that any hug I give to another comes back to me in many ways. Maybe the power of a hug is, in essence, that it is a lot like love.

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