The Power of a Hug!

Think about this for a moment. All those times when we were small and we had fallen over and busted our knee, cut ourselves doing something or bruising our ego’s in life’s tumbles, our mom was always there with a hug and cuddle and some amazing words…and all that pain would go away….vanish in a puff of…well, yeah, magic.

We were shown this magic in so many different ways as we grew up, even to the point that we do it for our own children, but alas, as they got older, and especially the male of the species, it became less and less. You know, I’m tough, I don’t need that sissy stuff…meanwhile quailing inside from the pain that life brings.

In a new relationship you see the young’uns wrapped around each other so much you don’t know where one starts and the other ends. They FEEL everything at that stage from the flutter of an eyelid to the meaning in a glance. They are so tuned into each other with their energy blending with the power of love. Remember that glow…that feeling that you can climb mountains and heal the world. Well, you can. Just by the simple affect of a hug.

No, not just throw your arms around someone for 1.3 seconds, pat them on the back and say ‘off you go!’. This isn’t a marathon to see how many you can give. This is an act in itself, an expression of who YOU are within. By opening your arms you are saying to someone…I’m trusting you, opening my heart to you, and I am giving myself unconditionally to you. Your body language with the expression you give with it….ie. a smile or loving glance speaks volumes. If it is done with a snarl, trust me, it would be the equivalent to being hugged by a tarantula. Actually, I think I’d rather the tarantula. (My apologies to the spider lovers, after all, they are also God’s creatures too πŸ™‚ ).

So the next time you are with someone and you feel a hug is in order, GIVE them a hug, step outside your boundaries and say to them in your hug….I care, I’m prepared to be open with you, and I’m giving my love to you, unconditionally. And sometimes that is just exactly what they need to help them go through something…a grazed knee, a hard day or even just because. The healing in that one small act is immeasurable, but we avoid it thinking we are overstepping a boundary (usually our own), and it is usually exactly what is needed. If in a circumstance you thought about it, do it.

Sometimes others may react to it by shoving you away and that is usually because of how they have been brought up or even bad experiences in their lives. The best way to signal your intentions is to just open your arms toward them with a smile. They will respond accordingly. But don’t judge their acceptance or rebuttal by reacting in any way. Just be the love that you are within. You have given from that love and the best of who you are. THAT is the important part, that you are giving freely, without any expectations, from who you are within. They will see and feel that, and that is THEIR important part. To see and feel that there IS love in the world, even though they may not be able to reach out for it at that time.

The hug is the jewel of who we are within. It shines out, interacts and heals more than any other act. Your intentions, integrity and care are all wrapped up in those few moments when you embrace. Whether its a baby, a child or a lover it has great meaning. Stand in that truth, break through your walls and be in a space that says it all. And especially with someone you love very much and you feel you have been bogged down by your work or troubles, just stop for a moment, and instead of the usual 1.3 second hug as you walk through the door, put everything down so that you are free, open your arms and be fully present and giving to that beautiful person in front of you and hold it for however long it takes to say ‘I love you, and nothing else matters’.

And everything will change, right at that moment because it has meaning, and care, and love, and all those things that really do matter in this life that we live.

Even Dr’s and scientists are now discovering the beauty and healing in a hug. The following article shows just how powerful it is.

Fun Facts About Hugging (Article link)

By Dr. Mercola

Neuroeconomist Paul Zak, also known as “Dr. Love,” recommends at least eight hugs a day to be happier and enjoy better relationships. Psychotherapist Virginia Satir also famously said:

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

This may very well be the “hug threshold” that allows your body to produce ample amounts of oxytocin, which is released in response to physical touch. The neuropeptide oxytocin, released by your pituitary gland, is a naturally occurring hormone in your body with incredibly powerful, health-giving properties.

It is also a key reason why the simple act of hugging is such an incredible way to not only bond with others but also boost your physical, and emotional, health.

How Hugging Makes You Healthier.

Hugging increases levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin. This, in turn, may have beneficial effects on your heart health and more. One study found, for instance, that women had lower blood pressure following a brief episode of warm contact with their partner.

A 20-second hug, along with 10 minutes of hand-holding, also reduces the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate. This makes sense, since hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol. But research suggests there’s even more to it than that. As reported by Mail Online:

“The skin contains a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure centers called Pacinian corpuscles that can sense touch and which are in contact with the brain through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve winds its way through the body and is connected to a number of organs, including the heart.

It is also connected to oxytocin receptors. One theory is that stimulation of the vagus triggers an increase in oxytocin, which in turn leads to the cascade of health benefits.”

A 10-second hug a day can lead to biochemical and physiological reactions in your body that can significantly improve your health. According to one study, this includes:

Lower risk of heart disease
Stress reduction
Fight fatigue
Boost your immune system
Fight infections
Ease depression

Does Cuddle Therapy Work?

There’s no doubt that hugging, caressing, and cuddling feel good. As neurologist Shekar Raman, MD, said in the Huffington Post:

“A hug, pat on the back, and even a friendly handshake are processed by the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy… And it doesn’t matter if you’re the toucher or touchee. The more you connect with others — on even the smallest physical level — the happier you’ll be.”

Yet, many people are touch-deprived. One study found that one-third of people receive no hugs on a daily basis while 75 percent said they wanted more hugs. Findings such as these, coupled with the emotional and health benefits of human touch, have led to the emergence of cuddle therapy centers, where people can pay for a lunchtime cuddle.

However, the verdict is still out on whether or not cuddles from strangers have the same impact as those from someone you know and trust. While cuddling with a spouse or partner has been shown to boost satisfaction in relationships, at least one study showed that hugs are only beneficial if trust is involved.

The lead researcher actually cautioned against worldwide “free hugs” campaigns (where strangers offer hugs to others), saying that this may be perceived as threatening and actually increase emotional burden and stress. However, proven benefits have been found from cuddling with a pet, which shows hugs don’t have to only be between humans to be beneficial. Even cuddling with your trusted pet may offer significant benefits to your heart and overall health.

More Fun Facts About Hugging.

Did you know that, on average, people spend on hour a month hugging? That doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that the average hug is under 10 seconds long… that’s a lot of hugs!

Happiness Weekly compiled even more fun facts about hugging that highlight just how incredible this act of touch really is. For instance, a full-body hug stimulates your nervous system while decreasing feelings of loneliness, combating fear, increasing self-esteem, defusing tension, and showing appreciation.

And if you had any doubt about the importance of touch, consider that children who aren’t hugged have delays in walking, talking, and reading. A quick hug has a near-immediate impact on health, lowering your heart rate and inducing a calming effect while also leading to a more upbeat mood!

Interestingly, hugging has just as much a benefit for the person doing the hugging as the person being hugged, revealing the reciprocal nature of touch. Touch is even described as a universal language that can communicate distinct emotions with startling accuracy. One study found that touch alone can reveal emotions including anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, and sympathy, with accuracy rates of up to 83 percent.

Even More Reasons to Give (or Get) a Hug Today.

Hugs are one of the most succinct ways to encourage your body to release oxytocin, and the more oxytocin your pituitary gland releases, the better able you are to handle life’s stressors.

Oxytocin decreases the level of stress hormones (primarily cortisol) your body manufactures and lowers your blood pressure response to anxiety-producing events. Oxytocin quite likely plays a role in why pet owners heal more quickly from illness, why couples live longer than singles, and why support groups work for people with addictions and chronic diseases.

Oxytocin has also been found to reduce the cravings of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as for sweets. It even has a positive influence on inflammation and wound healing. Even beyond this, regular hugs have the added benefit of:

Cultivating patience and showing appreciation
Activating the Solar Plexus Chakra, which stimulates your thymus gland (this may help balance your production of white blood cells)
Stimulating dopamine, the pleasure hormone, and serotonin, for elevated mood
Balancing out your nervous system for better parasympathetic balance

Do You Need a Good Hug?

Often making a concerted effort to hug the people close to you is one of the best ways to get more hugs in return. This can include your spouse, children, and other family members along with close friends. But even if you’re not currently in a life situation conducive to getting daily hugs and producing enough of your own oxytocin on a regular basis, the good news is there are some alternatives you can use to help you deal in a healthy way with your emotional response to stress and anxiety.

With the already known and still-to-emerge health and quality of life benefits to be derived from the natural release of oxytocin in your body, your best course of action is to make sure you’re cultivating warm, loving, intimate relationships, no matter what stage of life you’re in. Additionally, if you have a pet, just a few minutes petting your dog or cat can promote the release of your body’s “happiness” hormones, including oxytocin. Since touch anywhere on your body, as well as positive interactions and psychological support, are known to increase oxytocin levels, you might also consider:

Holding hands and kissing
Giving and receiving a backrub
Nurturing others
Getting a massage
Practicing mind-body therapies like breathing exercises and yoga

Well, all I can see is the positives about it, so what are you waiting for….hugs!…and lots of them!
And be happier, healthier and enjoy the connection. Namaste

44 thoughts on “The Power of a Hug!

  1. Such great dialogue about your post and the seemingly simple and disposable hug…
    Not sure if this was covered abobe … my reflection is on our initial hug.. within the womb, surrounded and protected and then as we emerge and grow, that irreplaceable hug of a child, full body cling, or infectious love oozing hold… such an innate reciprocal nurturing behavior… how our socialization drifts us away from this basic source of life !
    Finding our way back is imperative…
    Admire your comprehension post?

    1. Thank you Taruna. It is a very important part of our lives those hugs, and as you said, begins with that ‘touch’ in the womb to begin a journey that cannot function well without it. All aspects of our lives are driven by our ‘connections’ and the feelings that they give us, and it is only their lack that brings about those emotions that keep us ‘down’ and held in those negative patterns we have of ourselves.
      May those ‘hugs’ ever keep your heart singing <3

  2. Thanks Mark for liking one of my comments on another revered friend’s post, which in turn has connected me to your wonderful site. Your ‘hug’ is very well researched. Cyber hugs coming your way from my side…best wishes… Raj.

    1. Thank you Raj, and hugs very much appreciated and returned πŸ™‚ I liked your comment to Sue, it was very pertinent and wise to her circumstances. She has a very large audience and it is good to see her friends are there for her, as she usually is for many others. Mark

  3. Your message resonates so beautifully Mark, it is so true about hugs! Especially those given selflessly without wanting anything in return. It reminds me of the love that God shares with us each day…when we need a special hug, it is always right on time. Beautifully written my brother!

    1. Thank you Wendell. They are a piece of heaven when given unconditionally. And the beauty they create gives strength, faith and hope, all in that one little hug. And your right, God brings the right person at the right time when we are in need, and the love that is within us all is shared as it should be. Thank you for your lovely comment. Mark

    1. Thank you Kaissa. It is a wonderful thing to be able to express such beautiful energy by one small act. And the love that is felt from it can do so many things. It heals, gives strength, shows caring…and a million other things as well. But that is the power of a hug, it represents only one thing…the love within us all. Hugs received…and given, thank you πŸ™‚ Namaste

    1. Thank you Leila. It is inside us all to share that energy. Life will get in the way but that is needed to teach us its wisdom and love. Then we hug bigger, better and with much more love as we learn that truth that we all have within. Thank you for your lovely comment. Namaste

    1. Thank you Elaine. We tend to close ourselves off, especially when we are going through life’s bumps and all it takes is that one connection, something so small but holds so much. Even with people we know, there is a tendency to let slip our ability to really connect with another, and in and of itself is a healing for so many of our pains in life or even just to connect with those we care for. Big hug gratefully received and returned in kind Elaine, thank you. Namaste

  4. thanks for supporting camera catches Mark – This is my on line photo album that I share. It is not great but it is a way of keeping my best memories in photos. Eve

    1. There are some lovely photo’s among them and I enjoy to just ‘see’ your, and their, beauty in your shots. A calm spot among life’s mayhem. Thank you for sharing your gift. Mark

  5. Nice post Mark, being a social species, yes of course we need hugs, although hugs as we get older, do seem to be something that happens less often.. I am not sure why. Eve

    1. Thank you Eve. Yes we are a very social species but that I think that may be the problem. Modern technology has us buried in the mobile phone, tablet or computer of some sort and we are slowly losing that art of sociability and we, and especially the younger generation, are relating brilliantly with our emoticon’s but are losing that one on one contact.
      That and the stress that most families are under to ‘live’ in this generation are becoming more stressed and looking inward which is a side affect of that condition. Our fears come to the surface and we relate from that place.
      That is why we seem to be having more social uproar, attacks, murders or even the rise in groups lashing out. It appears to be like all of our fears, we need to go through them to come out the other side with the wisdom and beauty that they produce.
      And yes, the groups as well. And in those there is always much pain to reach past those walls that they build, come through them and realise the understanding needed to become one within. It all has purpose to find ourselves, it’s just that the journey needs to be that strong or we would just forget it by the next day. And in that we begin to love ourselves because of that.
      Thank you for sharing Eve, and I hope that as an awakened one that we can then help them rebuild as they come through those times and begin the new path that have many hugs and a renewed love to go with it. Namaste

  6. I love hugs, Mark! What a great post. We all need to be more open and loving and not fear rejection so much. I have always found that a simple hug is wonderful in letting people know you really do care.

    1. Thank you Michele. It is that wellspring of the love within. Always on tap at a moments notice. The only thing that blocks it is our fear, that is why some of us fear the hug itself, for it feels your truth and opens your heart. And in that, we fear the release of those fears that we have so carefully sewn up and walled in. We don’t want people to see our fears, but that little hug touches the one thing that cannot be covered…our hearts and the love within it. And as you say Michele, the hug speaks volumes in showing another that we do care, very much so. Namaste

    1. Thank you DarcSunshine. They are the most wonderful things. They connect in so many different ways, physically, emotionally but most of all, you can carry them around with you wherever you go, the ones you give or receive πŸ˜€
      They are always kept in the heart. Mark

  7. The power of a hug is transformational! It’s always been my go-to for just about any situation–happy or sad. In fact, I can’t think of any better universal signal that says, “I love and value you.”
    Sigh…..Loved this post.
    Forgive my short response though…my computer has a weird buggy thing going on and I only get these windows in bursts! Perhaps it needs a hug πŸ™‚

    1. Nothing to forgive Michelle, everything has a purpose. Maybe the computer is pulling the pin on you so you can give out more hugs πŸ™‚ And maybe it does just need one too.
      Those few seconds we take for others and ourselves are little way stations of love we hold in reserve, even though the supply is endless. And it is our signal to the world where we are at.
      Most times just too tired or stressed and keep ourselves closed down just to get by. But a little hug is all that’s needed to fire up the engine room again, bring a smile to our faces and know there is love in the world πŸ™‚
      Thank you my friend, your reply also has it’s love that I and others will take in its meaning.
      I think that is why us ‘bloggers’ are here, to give and receive a love from the interactions we find with the many souls expressing their individual persona in their blogs.
      Are they on their own? Are they in a relationship, but not? Or are they just wanting to express that something within their gift which is a love all its own?
      We are a very complicated lot, all just trying to fill that need within. To find that happiness and be at peace….’with a little hug from our friends’…(sounds like a song) πŸ™‚
      Thank you for your reply Michelle, have a beautiful day. Mark

  8. In those children where life has dealt hard blows, the reluctance to hug or be hugged is heart-rending. But, when they trust enough and find the need/courage to be hugged it is the most wonderful hug to receive. And to give. It’s a pity so many people are denied the comfort and reassurance that a hug may give. I can well understand that lack of touch would be feared more than death itself. It is indeed an affirmation of love and trust to be treasured.
    Hugs to you, Mark for raising awareness of its importance in our lives.

    1. Thank you momus. it is a beautiful thing to see someone for the first time being given a beautiful hug, the light goes on in their eyes, the recognition of those feelings beginning to form, but most of all, the truth of what it means and the tears begin to form, and the floodgates open. And out comes the many years of blockage, fear and the toxicity of what has been denied them. And as you say, it is heart rending to see a fear blocking them from even accepting a hug, for fear of being rejected and having that trust thrown to the ground and trudged underfoot once more. To see such pain, even though I know it is a part of their journey, is just so hard to watch. The same with our elderly, alone, afraid…and just wanting to be touched and held to feel alive and be a part of that love that they know is there…somewhere, just waiting to be held within.

      I give my thanks to you momus for allowing me to spread a little hug or two in your pond. May the ripples of that sharing go on and on…and the hugs too! Mark

  9. Wonderful Post Mark.. and yes I am a very Huggy person.. lol.. and its so true.. a hug is so healing.. And receiving a hug which is given with love is such a wonderful exchange of energy..

    Healing manifests from the point of love.. Loving ourselves.. Sending Love.. Giving hands on healing, passing on that energy… So when we give each other a well meaning Hug.. this energy is amplified as we feel that ‘Love Energy’ which helps heal us..

    Many thanks.. I so enjoyed this post..
    And sharing in your Hugs. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Sue. It’s a magic that should be taught in schools I think, just to make sure no one misses out on the beauty that it is. Because of my work I could not imagine it not being a part of what I do. All the counsellors rules all state ‘keep your distance, do not become involved’. But I for the life of me cannot see being a spiritual guide and NOT hugging someone with all the love that I am. It is felt, right down to the core of who we are in that hug, and it would be like trying to counsel someone by long distance letter. Do-able but very frustrating. And spirit has shown me, it is in being open that we can heal truly. I was trying to heal with all my fears in place, but once removed the difference is like night and day. It is such a beautiful healing tool in itself. The love received in that one act is so calming, healing and a zillion other emotions all rolled into one. It is a very beautiful exchange Sue and the more of it the better πŸ™‚ I think we need to bring in a world hugging week so that no one feels self conscious about it, and would freely respond to a little love and healing. Thank you for sharing Sue. Blessings and light to you also. Mark

    1. Thanks Sheri. And that is so true, mini miracles they are. Their power is amazing, physically, emotionally and spiritually, for it is there that they are created. And I do thank Eric for his input as it has created a further awareness of just how our elderly do become isolated in their later years and would feel that lack of touch in their lives quite clearly. Thank you both for sharing that ‘touch’ from within here. Namaste

  10. This was great !!! A hug is such an important gesture that when one doesn’t receive a hug or hugs as a child…that child can either grow up not effected by it or in my case end up seeking the helpful words of therapists…because as a child affection was a thing my parents often only had time to show one child. Which wasn’t me.
    As an adult I made sure that as my kids grew up my children knew the importance of hugs and the love that was behind it.

    Great post

    Hope you have a wonderful week.

    1. Thanks Jolene. As you know, it has great meaning and a world without it creates a very big journey to find who you are within. Especially as a child as that is your learning, your understanding of this great big world, and without those contacts and affections you feel apart, no connection and makes it very difficult to express your feelings which are a big part of who we are. The human condition relies a great deal on those emotional inputs and it is the equivalent of living in a house with no doors. Do-able but very frustrating. But in all of that, you have come through a big journey and I see you every day on your blog releasing things that no longer serve a purpose. Be proud of that my friend, it isn’t easy but you have gained many a gold star for your perseverance. And a big hug from me πŸ˜€ Mark

      1. Thanks Mark that means a lot!!!
        Thanks for noticing the strides I’ve taken to rid the negative from my life and to maintain a much happier life. πŸ™‚
        Hope you are doing great.

        1. My pleasure Jolene. It is a very big journey but it is in taking that first step to find that truth within. None of us are perfect, and our steps may have dents, chips and unpainted patches, but it is in standing up for what we believe in within ourselves that has meaning. Your journey has shown you great truth so that you can believe in who you have become. big hugs returned in full my friend, enjoy the journey and remember, it is that journey, not the destination. Mark

          P.S. Going well, just been a little quiet with some healing…it keeps me off the streets πŸ˜€
          P.S.S. I actually sent a previous reply and it went into the ethers somewhere πŸ™‚ Must not wanted me to send the bit about stealing your fried chicken. lol. I’m kidding, it just decided somewhere else was better than here πŸ˜€

  11. To continue the comment thread, Mark, a not-long-ago survey of elderly Americans revealed that their number one fear was… not of dying or becoming destitute, but of not being touched. This aligns with what scientists and researchers are realizing yet it acute with members of our silent generation A great topic. Appreciate your prompting us.

    This, too, extracted from a late July post of mine, echoes your share in a slightly different yet relevant vein:

    “Case in point: A Harvard University study was conducted on a large, real world social network. It used modern statistical methods to analyze data from the Framingham Heart Study. It found that if a friend of a person became happy, the person’s chance of becoming happy increased by about 15%. If a friend of a friend became happy it increased by about 10% and a friend of a friend of a friend by almost 6%. This event occurred even if the person had never met many of the people involved.”

    Here’s to growing hugs and happiness! πŸ™‚

    1. Very much so Eric. And the ripples go ever outward πŸ™‚ The energy from these things from the heart, the happiness or hugging, have so much impact and are truly the only things that balance our lives to find ourselves. Too much ‘must haves’ and ‘directionless’ journeys keep us from that path.

      And I must admit I do see that a lot with the ageing population, of a fear to touch them, like we all feel they are too fragile and we may hurt them, not realising we are by not doing so. Losing partners and closer friends as they get older seems to silence their pain so that we don’t hear, or want to, and as you say, creates a fear of no contact and a loneliness that must be quite frightening to them.

      Yes Eric, to growing hugs and happiness, may it be built on the ripples of love that we create πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing. Namaste

  12. In my darkest hours, it has always been a hug…the 20 second, heartfelt hug, from a friend, that has led me back to the light! I’m on the giving end more now…I know it is powerful! Thank you for sharing this?

    1. My pleasure Army of Angels. It is in those dark hours when all seems to be lost that the beauty of that connection can light a spark. One of hope, and a path of freedom for our hearts. It is built purely from our love of ourselves, and the hug is an expression of that love. I am glad that you are free, for none other can appreciate the power of a hug truly, bar one who has been through those dark hours. Namaste

  13. Finding the courage to be vulnerable and to say “I need a hug” has transformed my life and relationships.
    Touch is one of the greatest gifts we can give others…. and to ourselves.
    Thank you Mark for sharing this!

    1. Thank you Val. In all the healing that I do, it is the only thing that can bring a healing to it’s conclusion. And in that I don’t mean an ending, it is bringing an understanding of that truth and love within that we guard as we go through life. But by showing it, feeling it and understanding that it is when we DO give that hug, it heals like no other. And in that, we are set free of all those restrictions and walls that we build around us. As you say, it ‘transforms’ us in an amazing way. For such a little thing, it has great power. Thank you for sharing ‘your’ hugging journey πŸ™‚ Namaste

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