If eyes are the window to the soul, hugs are a doorway to the heart. I love hugs. I crave them. And even more than receiving one, I love to wrap my arms around another human and hold them tightly.
Hugs have been my way of expressing love, support, and other emotions when words don’t suffice. It’s intriguing, actually, because I did not grow up in a “touchy-feely” home. Yet I cannot imagine my life without hugs. Tight hugs, brief hugs, bring-it-in-delicious hugs. I adore them all!
As I wrote last month, I am now sharing others’ stories—every soul has a story! My grandparents have many, and they made a significant impact on who I am today. When I sat down to write about the healing power of hugs, I realized you must meet my Grandma Miriam. She consistently modeled and molded her love into my young body when I was a child through her embraces. I sense her presence even now.
Perhaps it is a gene that skipped a generation? My Grandma Miriam loved with her entire being. And I do as well. Today I am grateful she held me tight because I feel her eternal embrace. I can still visualize her stroking my curly, thick hair as she’d say goodnight. She would also kiss my forehead, both cheeks, and look directly into my eyes with unwavering, unconditional love.
Grandma Miriam welcomed me into her resolute, porcelain, safe arms nearly every weekend; I slept and snuggled in her sweet apartment in North Miami Beach. My Grandpa Herman, who I adored as much, hugged too but not with the “I don’t want to ever let go” grip as Grandma. Yet I knew he adored us, too. His steadfast, solid actions spoke to his loyal character. Grandma Miriam nurtured those she loved with her soulful spirit and emotive, maternal embrace.
I only had her fully present in my life until I was about 14 years old; her sharp mind gradually melted and dementia stole her memory. Grandma Miriam eventually moved to a nursing facility, and her physical body stayed strong as her mental faculties diminished. But her smile, her unconditional kindness, her forever hugs became part of my soul’s tapestry.
Hugs have healed my heart and soothed my soul. I always assumed it’s because I am a passionate, interactive person. But I decided to delve into the hug arena for a few moments. And there is quite a bit of research substantiating the health benefits of hugs!
Hugging increases levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin. When you hug someone for at least 20 seconds, not only does it feel calming but you also trigger a release of oxytocin. Hugging can have an affect on stress hormones by lowering cortisol. Hugging also boosts dopamine and seretonin production in the body. And it can also lower your heart rate, relax muscles, boost mood, decrease pain, and provide a sense of safety.
When someone hugs me, I immediately and intensely connect with that person’s energy. I know not all people like to be hugged, and I respect that preference. So today I’d like to briefly outline the different types of hugs I’ve experienced during this lifetime! Not every hug requires a I-may-crack-a-rib squeeze!
—The Hesitant Hug: This is a brief, light embrace. It’s that moment you realize the person in front of you doesn’t care to be hugged. So you shift your body backward slightly and create comfortable space.
—The Reunited Hug: For me, a shriek of delight often accompanies this every body part is buzzing with anticipation hug. And during this one, the two bodies reconnecting is pure elation and excitement.
—The Parent/Child Hug: One of my favorite forms of touch is when I am woven and wrapped in my children’s arms. I inhale their snuggly warmth. The hearts that once fluttered inside my burgeoning belly are now pulsing together.
—The Partner/Spouse Hug: I love the lingering, supportive, and magnetic energy after hugging my husband. Every morning, every night, and moments in between. I can’t get enough of his hugs!
—The Best Friend Hug: You know this one well. It’s a palpable yet invisible exchange when two people clasp one another and share friendship without uttering a syllable. I am gifted with a combination of the Reunited and BF Hug when I visit with my college roommate and best friend Becky each year!
—The Just Show Up Hug: You know this one, too. It’s the compassionate, kind clasp in which a friend or family member’s support envelops you. It’s the one that you exhale as you hug each other with an inner knowing.
—The Side Hug: I do NOT like this one. In fact, it’s difficult to classify it as a hug, which is why I’ve listed it last! It’s more like a hip-to-hip, half-hearted motion.
One of my favorite children’s authors wrote about hugs. Shel Silverstein describes this physical fusion of two souls with such whimsical yet perfect expression.
I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.
I adore hugs. I cannot imagine a day without them.
Connect with me. And share YOUR story at everysoulhasastory.com EVERY soul has a story–what is yours? I’d love to listen and write it! You can also follow Every Soul Has A Story on Facebook and Instagram.