For those of you who don’t know, I’m a hugger. I hug my sons 20+ times a day; the Hugging Saint, Amma, is my guru; I hug trees, dogs, large fruit, unsuspecting acquaintances; you name it, and I’ll hug it.
I grew up in one of those households where no one hugged, so I guess I’m making up for lost time.
At certain times in my life, I didn’t have anyone to hug–sigh. I know the feelings of loneliness that are immune to social interaction–the kind of loneliness that one can feel in a room full of friends, music, and good food. Looking back, I wish someone had taught me how to hug myself.
So I offer you, 5 ways to hug yourself:
1. Hand on Heart Hug
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” Wayne Dyer
This is very simple and can be done anywhere. My wife, who has a PhD in psychology, taught me this after she attended a self-compassion workshop.
Put your hand on your heart. Breathe. Voice what you are feeling. Re-assure yourself by telling yourself that it will be ok. Be kind to yourself: Do not try to fix anything, and do not judge. Act like you would if it was your child or friend that needed a hug. Added benefit of this practice is that it makes you a better friend or parent. Do this whenever, where ever, and as many times as needed.
2. Forgiveness Hug
An important aspect of self-compassion is to be able to empathically hold both parts of ourselves–the self that regrets a past action and the self that took the action in the first place.” Marshall Rosenberg
Oftentimes we feel as if we aren’t worthy of our own affection. For whatever reason, we have learned to hate ourselves or at least a part of ourselves. Forgiveness is the first step to loving ourselves again.
Try this. Imagine the part of yourself that you are upset with. Picture it with all its faults, insecurities, and ugliness. Imagine wrapping your arms around this wretch as if they were your child who just had a nightmare. Whisper in their ear, “It’s ok. I still love you.”
If you are able to do this with sincerity, self-love and endless hugs are heading your way.
3. Universe Hug
“I love myself for I am a beloved child of the universe and the universe lovingly takes care of me now.”
- Louise Hay
One of the things that fascinates me is sewage treatment. It amazes me how spraying poo poo water in the air over and over can make it clean. (Obviously, there are other mechanisms at work, but what I noticed while visiting treatment plants were the aeration tanks.)
In my experience, the Universe is like a huge aeration tank. You just release all your sh#t to the Universe, and it will make you clean again. I practice this Thich Nhat Hahn style:
Breathe in tension, suffering, sh#t.
Breathe out calm, compassion, clean.
A few minutes of this, and it feels like the Universe is hugging you.
4. Laughing Club Hug
In Santa Barbara, I used to be part of a Laughing Club. We would gather in a park and just laugh. Have you ever seen a picture of someone laughing so hard that they fall on the ground and hug their stomach? This is the goal.
You can start by standing in front of a mirror and going “ho,ho,ho” like Santa Claus. Try some different laughs like the laugh you make when you aren’t suppose to laugh, a witch’s laugh, liquid-out-the-nose laugh. Imitate your favorite cartoon character’s laugh or celebrities laugh. Whatever you do, don’t stop laughing. Try this for 30 seconds and slowly build up to 5 minutes. You might get to the point where you instinctively hug your sides.
5. Post-it Hug
“Writing has helped me heal. Writing has changed my life. Writing has saved my life.” Louise DeSalvo
I originally came up with an idea to put post-its around the house that said “hug,” but the title gave me a better idea. Many of us bloggers need a hug, which is why we blog. Many of us need to tell stories of heartache and loss. Life happens fast, furious, and full of emotion. It is only when we later go back and recount an event that we are able to structure, define, and make sense of it. This storytelling process is like hugging one’s past. We accept it, embrace it, and, sometimes, even learn to love it.
In addition, when we tell our stories on blogs, we get virtual hugs from our followers. People who have had similar experiences empathize and embrace us with their comments. We are accepted with open arms.