Having lived in an Arab land where hugging is a usual form of greeting, I had learned how good it felt after having hugged a dear one.
Like all Moms, I too frequently made it a point to bear hugg my growing kids. Whenever the little ones felt any trouble or insecurity they would run to be hugged tightly. If at times I was busy and did it lightly, they would demand-
” Ammi do it nicely.”
Then came an Indian movie with the much popular caption
” Jadoo ki jhappi”
–-~the magic hug, which claimed to do wonders. Inspired by it, we actually put this Jaddo ki jhappi to practice, at our home.
Whether it was the daughter getting nervous for her exam or the son feeling hurt after a fall or a sib finding hard to cope with a financial loss or Mom missing my deceased Dad or a friend nervous for her husband’s illhealth or even the kids’ nanny, sobbing after she recieved some bad news from the kin back home–a tight bear hug would comfort not just them, but me too.
A wholesome hug cannot really change the circumstances, but it gives strength to bear the loss with a feeling that they are not alone in their suffering. Medically speaking, the act releases endorphins, the feel good hormones, into the body.
Later, I saw on net a report on the raised rates of suicide among South Korean students owing to stress of competition in educational institutions. And then came the news that a simple campaign of giving free hugs to the passersby while standing at a street crossing decreased the suicide rate significantly in South Korea youngsters.
Further digging into the details led me to the wonderful international campaign called Free Hugs Campaign, as a random act of kindness. My thrill for having practiced it myself without being aware of its existence, had no bounds.
Giving a tight bear hug says aloud that we care.
Culturally many of us may not be in a position to accept being hugged at a street crossing, but we can certainly do this to our kids, our parents, our sibs and those friends who are informal enough to be hugged.
We need not be told to hug one’s kids. We do that amply and with full enthusiasm. Perhaps hugging our ageing parents needs to be reminded. However, it is one of the most fulfilling expereinces one can experience.
I remember, for years, having hugged my mom only occasionally and just ritually if at all. But with Dad being a very expressive person and I being his favourite child, he never either received or parted without a wholesome hug. After he was no more, what I missed the most was his hugs.
Then one day, I decided to repeat the same, with my Mom too. The first time I gave a real tight bear hug to my Mom, I could see her eyes twinkled with tears and she actually blushed. But the vigor she gained after the hug was strikingly noticable.
Each time she is around I make sure to hug her for a reason or for no reason. It embarrasses her at times and tells me to “grow up”. But I know she loves it. And the tight embrace, not just helps her feel good, but also lets me feel how thin and frail she is getting with the passing time. We may not realise that visually, or our parents may not be complaining of getting older and weaker, but the tactile sensation certainly does all the talking.
The survival of preterm babies are known to be having a better survival if the mother or the father or even a grandmother hugs the baby, on their chest as much as possible during the first month of life–called as Kangaroo care.
Similiarly I saw in Delhi, Sanjivini, a well-known center that offers help to troubled minds, have a day clinic for schizophrenics where “caring” (involving touch and holding) is routinely used as a therapy. “But it is done in a parent-child matrix,” clarified the in-charge of Sanjivini, adding that only women volunteers handle female patients and men handle male patients.” In Sanjivni they have statistically seen that, the practice has reduced the relapse in schizophrenics.
Scientific studies have shown that hugs have been seen to reduce heart rates, improve overall moods, lower blood pressure, increase nerve activity, and a host of other beneficial effects.
We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth, claims Virginia Satir, a family therapist
“Hugging is a way of connecting with others, of showing your genuine affection and appreciation, of valuing others, and of giving. All of these are positive, healthy, life-enhancing purposes”, remarks Kevin Eikenberry, author of Vantagepoints on Learning and Life.
I suggest give it a try to your loved ones. Sometimes, a hug is all what they need.
FREE HUGS is a real life story of Juan Mann, a man whose mission was to reach out and hug strangers to brighten up their lives. In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs Campaign became phenomenal and spread world wide.