Most of my friends and family hug each other when we meet and when we part. I encourage hugging with our students as well.
When we meet someone new, they often extend their hand to invite a handshake.
The handshake is thought by some to have originated as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the hand holds no weapon. It seems funny to me that this tradition continues today, but traditions can change.
There is a tremendous advantage gained when we actually touch each other, either a casual touch on the arm or shoulder, or an affectionate hug.
Some hugs are actually kind of formal, not unlike a handshake. A hug can also linger into something that is actually therapeutic!
What’s up with hugging?
- Holding a hug for an extended time raises serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating a feeling of happiness!
- The galvanic skin response when someone gives or receives a hug shows a change in skin conductance, balancing the nervous system.
- Hugging relaxes muscles, releasing tension in the body.
- Hugs teach us how to give and receive and teach us the value of being open to sharing our love.
- Hugs can take away aches and pain by increasing circulation in the soft tissues.
- The emotional charge stimulated by gentle pressure on the sternum activates the Solar Plexus Chakra, stimulating the thymus gland, regulating and balancing the body’s production of white blood cells, keeping you healthy and disease free.
A Hug That Lasts For 20 Seconds Releases Oxytocin!
It has been shown that hugging for 20 seconds stimulates the release of the “Love Drug,” Oxytocin, a powerful neurotransmitter produced in the hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland in mammals, including humans. Its release into certain regions of the brain affects emotional, cognitive, and social behaviors.
Oxytocin is also released during sex, childbirth, and breastfeeding, and is found in high levels in the first six months of an intimate relationship, or romantic attachment for adults in a relationship, the honeymoon!
Oxytocin seems to create bonding emotions and may increase empathy of breastfeeding mothers for newborn and parents in general for their young.
It is actually seen as vital for the propagation of the species, creating intimacy which can lead to reproductive behavior, and offspring.
Other facts about Oxytocin
- Doctors prescribe oxytocin to start birth contractions or strengthen them during labor.
- Released in large amounts during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples, it is a facilitator for childbirth and breastfeeding.
- It is also used to reduce bleeding after child delivery.
- It may have beneficial effects for people with autistic spectrum disorders.
- It may be of use in the treatment of irritable bowel disease as it appears to play a role in protecting the intestine from damage.
Science suggests that you need to experience at least eight hugs a day in order to feel happier and more content with life.
There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
What I suggest to our students is that they try to stay open to trying new things to see what actually works for them.
Hugging – try it, you’ll like it.
He has taught herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, and shamanism at Self-Heal School since 1985.