Hugging as souls would hug

Share-loveBy Joshua Bagby

Have you ever hugged someone for a whole minute? A whole, long, no-cheating, no-kidding sixty ticks?

That might sound like a piece of cake, especially if you envision or remember hugging the love of your life like that. Or perhaps your minute-long hugs were simply planned preludes to steamier activities and therefore dribbled out of the category hug and meandered into the category foreplay. But what about hugging a friend or relative or (gasp!) even a stranger for a whole minute?

Have you done it? Could you do it?

I’d love to see the changes that would occur in our society if we somehow made hugging more prominent and acceptable. I’m not referring to the fleeting body collisions many people in our culture produce (“give” would be an inaccurate term here) for the occasion. You know what I’m talking about — the A-frame, don’t blink or you’ll miss it phenomenon.

I’m talking about a true connection, a long pause at the traffic light of time to hold someone in your arms and be present with that person for a whole minute. Hug that person with reverence and respect and empathy. Hug as if it were a prayer and give thanks for our existence by taking the unusual step of holding a kindred soul close.

Oh, I know, embracing someone for ten seconds or longer almost automatically dropkicks hugging into the bugaboo briar patch of sexual suggestiveness. That’s because hugging is often associated as an on-ramp to steamy passion. Many people stalwartly keep hugs hand-in-flame short to sidestep any chance of sending unintended signals.


Nonetheless, I believe that we’re losing touch with each other. Take that literally or metaphorically. Materialism, technology, and competition are taking their toll. We fear the other guy more than ever. We’re being conditioned to be more defensive than intimate, more derisive than embracing, and I believe that’s making us lonelier and more isolated than ever.

When was the last time anyone paid close attention to you — really heard you, really felt who you are? When was the last time you devoted your attention to someone in the way you would love someone to pay attention to you?

In my ideal world, kindred souls would create more hugging opportunities. We would share our stories, our feelings, our quests — and we would hold each other as we conversed. (Don’t I live dangerously, though?) By regularly staying in touch, physically and emotionally, we would brighten our lives with love.


Hugging feels good because it gives energy. Longer embraces exchange more energy. They release oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, after about twenty seconds. When given with a pure heart, hugs are healing. It’s just plain harder to be as defensive, depressed, or frightened when you feel acknowledged, included, and loved.

Hugging is a simple act. Wrap your arms around someone who’s willing and just hold on. Hug as you would like to be hugged. What makes it difficult is the mental chatter that starts erupting as soon as your brain thinks this hug is already too long. A second in? Two seconds in? Five seconds in? Ten seconds in? Listen to that chatter. It’s filled with headlines (literally) about how you design your life.

When I am hugging people in this way, long and slow, I like to think about the idea of souls embracing. (That is obviously where the name of this site came from.) It puts hugging on a whole different consciousness plane than when bodies hug. I also think about how Jesus or other great healers would hug. What is the human potential for hugging if it is done as mindfully as a meditation?

I’ve learned that the world won’t change just because I think it should. I‘ll create my own paradise, one hugger at a time.


I look forward to hearing from those of you who like hugging and can relate to the special intimacy of the long ones.

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