Hugging stations

Free-hugs-72

By now just about everybody who watches videos online has seen at least one “free hugs” video. This is where someone stands in a crowd with a “free hugs” sign and we the viewers watch as strangers approach.

It’s sometimes pretty emotional. I sometimes feel a lump form in my throat as I watch. I have a weakness for anything that shows people dropping out of the rigid rules of dispassionate, indifferent behavior toward each other to let some love shine, even in this baby step way.

If you really haven’t see one, let’s take care of that right now.

Here. And here.

One of my lingering, persistent fantasies over the years has been the establishment of hugging stations. This carries the free hugs idea to another level.

For my own creative enjoyment, I once invented a fictional character who would travel around the country for the purpose of hugging people. She did it as a way to re-create one of her near-death experience highlights. During her NDE, she was levitated around a circle of light beings, each one zapping her with love energy as she floated by. For her, the feelings were so intense, so amazing, that once she returned to physical life, she was inspired to give some of that feeling to people on earth.

As she went around hugging strangers, she discovered that each encounter built her energy a little more. She became like an energy collector, a human battery. Not only did she get energy from all that hugging, but each person she hugged received the benefit of all the love energy she had stored inside herself.

This is something like the hugging guru, Amma. It’s said that she has hugged over an estimated 36 million people in her life! Amma is so famous that people travel from around the globe to stand in line for hours and make the connection with her, the actual time of a hug being from ten or thirty seconds.

MY LIFE

There have been times in my life when I have felt great affection and community. There have been other times in my life when I have felt intense loneliness and isolation. The difference is profound when I feel loved and connected. I am much more creative and outgoing. In isolation, I am more withdrawn, sometimes depressed.

More and more, I believe that others share a similar response. Feeling loved and connected gives us strength and self-confidence. Feeling deprived, we retreat.

From my afterlife research, I frequently encounter suggestions from the spirit dimensions that love flows much more easily there. Whereas people on earth are often conditioned to fear intimacy, to block themselves off from showing and expressing love, the other planes are like hug fiestas. There isn’t much focus on whatever bodies they have; it’s much more of a spiritual bonding experience.

I often wonder how certain things said to happen in spirit would play on physical earth. Would we, could we, create ways and means for increasing human connection in a positive, loving manner?

HUGGING STATION

Temporarily setting aside those pesky issues of logistics, social acceptance, government interference, sexual exploitation, potential for ridicule, and all the rest, what would a hugging station be like? For a moment let’s just assume good intentions for all concerned.

First I envision attractive drop-in boutique centers, not pretentious but comfortable and with a pleasing ambiance. It would be a pleasure to hang out there for a little while. This could entail waiting for a turn, something which could be taken into account in the design of the center. Perhaps it could be adjoining a coffee bar or something similar.

I envision hugging specialists who may be something along the lines of qualified massage therapists or energy workers. In other words, trained. They would be heart-centered individuals who cared about people’s well-being. When hugging someone, they would intuitively send universal love energy.

Hugging is both a sensual and spiritual experience. It possesses feel-good comfort but delivers feel-good emotional satisfaction, too. I can easily remember times when I was feeling funky, nervous, or frustrated, and a long, nurturing embrace brought me out of it.  In some cases I could feel the energy streaming through me, lifting the gloom I had been in.

Someone who approaches this as an erotic diversion or romantic opportunity would send out an entirely different energy. This is also not a venue reserved for youth, beauty, wealth, or perfect health. It’s for everyone, recognizing that we are all spirits temporarily encased in flesh bodies, all equal despite cultural programming.

Qualified hugging specialists would know this and be able to respond to it. It would also be an opportunity to offer and to receive some compassionate communication. Often in our fast-paced world, having someone actually hear us, care about us, and be present with us is a rare treat. This is not intended as therapy, but a quick pick-me-up is welcome.

Meanwhile, not all embraces would be under the auspices of helping someone who’s having a tough day. It could just as easily be a celebration of being alive, a ritual of sharing joy with another human being who could be a complete stranger. Someone having a great day might like to boost that energy even higher with some hugging.

TAKING TIME DURING TIME OUT

I’ve noticed something in just about every free hugging video I’ve seen. Many of the hugs are touch-and-go speedy. They’re often one-armed hugs, just about anything that avoids intimacy yet still counts (barely) as playing the game. I recognize that this is probably more than enough intimacy for the average person, but for me it feels like cheating, like being given half a potato chip with no access to others.

Hugging for me is both a sensual and a spiritual experience. I do feel it in my body, and it feels good. But my consciousness is often focused on being in a present, healing, and universally loving space. When I hold someone, I often think of our relationship to each other. We could be longtime friends or we could be virtual strangers such as at a workshop, church, or social gathering.

One term I like is the namaste hug. The holy part of me honors the holy part of you. It’s lovely to feel the comfort of someone’s body against mine when my mind is in the namaste space, feeling gratitude for the moment of inclusion. I also like the term soul embraces because it describes that consciousness is the essence of the hugging ritual.

So in my fantasies of hugging stations, I think more of connections that put life on pause for a little while. In my ideal world a soul embrace would be like mutual meditation, a five-minute (give or take) break to share some no-strings intimacy just because … because we are human, we need connection, we need more of a human family feeling, and speaking of feeling, it simply feels good.

Embracing loneliness

Lonely-robinLoneliness. Yuck.

In much of my world, it’s not cool to admit to feeling lonely. It’s a different kind of scarlet letter. People perceive that admitting to being lonely is admitting to being a failure. Being lonely translates to being unwanted, and the obvious question becomes what’s wrong with you? Why are you lonely? You must be flawed.

For Law of Attraction followers, it’s a definite no-no to lament feeling lonely. They believe that feeling sorry for oneself sets the universal wheels in motion to attract more of the same. More loneliness. More yuck.

Yet to my way of thinking, to deny feelings of loneliness and the pain they bring is hiding. I feel lonely. I should admit it. So I tell myself.

EMBRACE THE YUCK

The way I look at it, we’re here in Earth School to learn about life and love. That means helpings of both the good and the bad. To me it seems healthy to say, “This sucks.” The first step for improving a situation, it seems to me, is to admit that there is a problem. That motivates finding a solution.

I also feel that by embracing the loneliness, I am gaining valuable insight into the human condition. I can be more sensitive to others who feel it. I can empathize with people feeling useless, unwanted, and a prisoner of decisions made that led to it. I can also empathize with the anger that erupts for the lonely — it is challenging in this competitive, materialistic society to find relief through meaningful connection.

Loneliness, I have discovered, covers a lot of territory. It can mean having no one to love romantically. It can mean having no one to talk to about stuff that really matters. It can mean feeling like an outsider, like trash, the wrong this or that. It can mean being the minority race or religion or personality type or age or physicality. It can mean feeling like a victim.

CONSCIOUS LONELINESS

I am going through a patch of fairly intense loneliness right now. I have been looking for various healthy media to fill my mind with positive, uplifting, solution-oriented material. I am astonished at how challenging this is.

I went to the PBS site and started watching some American Experience shows that are available for online viewing. I always thought of these as worthwhile programs about American history. But the more I watched, the more disgusted and then depressed I got. I found less and less to be proud of, as in proud to be an American, especially a white American. The show turned out to be more of a cavalcade of greed, corruption, violence, adversity, racial hatred, and war than of ingenuity, cooperation, redemption, and social evolution.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think it’s a great series! It’s just discouraging. For example, I watched an American Experience program featuring 19th Century corporate monopolies, and then went to Facebook and saw people posting about how that dastardly Monsanto, with US government collusion, is poisoning us with genetically modified yummies. Oh, and Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies are coming back (did you seriously think they would disappear?)

Documentaries in general seem to focus much more on what is bleak about humanity. It’s as if they still want to shock us into social action by showing us how rotten people or big corporations or corrupt governments are. I end up getting outraged at the injustices and then feel lonelier than ever living in an increasingly more hostile environment. Monsanto is out to poison us, health care and big pharma are out to increase our suffering to add to their profits, big oil is out to destroy the environment for their own gain, and you get the idea. The definition of a documentary should be “an exposé about all the crap that shitty people do.”

Put another way, these programs show a lot of victims, and so often, these victims are lonely people. They’re lonely because they are somehow disenfranchised. They don’t belong. They’re ostracized. They’re oppressed. Often they’re conquered and displaced. When I watch a show on the Caucasian invasion of America or slave trading, for example, I’m sickened at what I see, and it makes me feel lonelier living in a world where such brutality occurs.

TURNING THIS AROUND

For years I have considered loneliness to be a major unaddressed social crisis of our time. I believe that it is a root cause of so many other social problems that plague us. People suffering from loneliness in its various forms are more likely to rebel in violent or self-destructive ways. I believe that much addictive behavior is caused by a response to feeling lonely, unloved, unwanted, and unwelcome. Would we be a society filled with such addictions if we had more of a supportive tribal consciousness — if we made it our life purpose to look out for each other?

When I am consciously lonely, I see so many forces in life that work to keep us stuck in various forms of loneliness. Why is that so? Just as more war creates great business opportunities for defense contractors, suffering is great for the economy. Is there a better way to create a happy marketplace for providers than to keep a populace lonely, addicted, mad, and sick? When people are desperate, they buy stuff. Cha-ching.

Of course, loneliness is a hugely complex social problem with a multitude of causes and issues, but when I am consciously lonely, I don’t see society stepping up to the plate with many easy solutions. I find this odd. Profit-making industries cater to lonely people and their addictions, but I find it ironic that our supposedly advanced society isn’t addressing loneliness with hope-and-change zeal.

With website technology, it should not be so hard to provide humanity with a library of self-help tools that would help fight discouragement and depression with positive, solution-based programming. Or there could be an organization like a Salvation Army set up to deal with loneliness and foster cooperation, harmony, and appreciation for diversity.

When I am lonely, I look for my own solutions. It’s not a mental lake I enjoy swimming in. I don’t deny that I am there, temporarily stuck, but I lament that solutions are much more difficult to come by than stuff that is bad for my physical and mental health.

Near-ecstasy and BOOM!

Near-ecstasy experienceIn a classic near-death experience, someone leaves the body when it is clinically dead. This could involve flat-lining on the operating table. Or it could be in the middle of a trauma like being electrocuted, being stabbed, drowning, having a cardiac arrest, or whatever. Their consciousness, or all that they think of as themselves minus the physical matter, leaves the body and goes somewhere else.

In this somewhere else state, they often experience ecstasy. It usually involves being loved so much and so profoundly they cannot even describe it in Earth language. They’ll say things like “It’s like the best hug you have ever had times a million.” Sometimes this love is in the surroundings as if in the air. Sometimes it’s meeting deceased relatives or beings of light. Sometimes it’s meeting Christ or God or an angel or a twin flame. Whatever it is, the love is beyond intense. Way beyond intense.

They will often also see incredible landscapes in surreal detail compared to here. There are stories of singing flowers and heavenly music (as if the air itself sings) and intense colors including many that don’t show up on Earth (computer technology claims 16.9 million colors here on Earth.)

After walking around in some unearthly dimension savoring ineffable ecstasy, they are told they have to go back to physical life on Earth. Many of them protest vigorously, yet they return to this place—with all its pain and violence and fear—and are left to process what happened to them, often alone because so few people like to talk about death and woo-woo.

I never had an NDE, but recently I fell in love.

Full speed ahead and nowhere to go

It was an unexpected love, one neither sought nor planned for. I met a woman I had been getting to know by email. She lived 600 miles away. Our correspondence had been intimate yet platonic, sharing the kinds of feelings and stories you might reveal in a support group or personal growth workshop.

She was, after all, a married woman. Her surly, neglectful husband was addicted to porn and video games. She and I exchanged our life’s horror stories and attempted to soothe each other’s emotional wounds.

After many months writing, we met in person. The energy rapidly shifted as our hearts opened to each other. Despite that I was single and she was miserably married, we did not cross the line of physical intimacy. We dd not even kiss.

After I left town, our creative channels burst open. We became lovers in thought via the medium of words. We showered each other with the most precious serum of affection. It was virtual loving at its finest, something akin to the exchanges of letters between Henry Miller and Anais Nin. She was my soul muse. She saw into me. She got me. Under this love spell my creative energy flowed like spring thaw. We bantered and flirted with speed and humor as if we both had teams of extra writers living inside our heads and hearts.

For years, she said, friends had been urging her to leave her troubled marriage. Even her adult kids encouraged her to leave, she said. She had a lawyer picked out, she said. In less than two weeks my soul muse announced to her husband that their 27-year marriage had just ended. She wrote me that she was now free to pursue any sort of relationship that we wanted. She would be polyamorous.

Don’t cash that check yet

Then her husband made a miraculous u-turn recovery. Faced with divorce, loneliness, stigma, and the probable loss of their house, he awoke from the dead and suddenly became the husband she’d always wanted. He made love to her (she said) in ways he hadn’t in 27 years of marital history. He suddenly wanted to become a better father to the kids. He suddenly took an active interest in her life as if Pfizer had invented Viagra for the heart.

While thrilled with this development, my soul muse said that no matter what, I was in her life to stay. In one poem she wrote, “For I receive you forever / I’m your Bride and I wait to welcome you each day / To a wedding night and honeymoon of unending bliss …”

Forever turned out to be about three more weeks. Her suddenly-transformed husband asked her to re-marry him and she accepted. Then she abruptly blocked me on Facebook.

When the love flow unexpectedly halted, it was like being sent back to physical earth in a near-death experience. I had a pile of emails and text messages to annotate the roller coaster ride. My soul muse had penetrated deep inside my psyche and exposed my most sacred desires and aspirations. Through her I realized how much I craved true partnership in love. It had been entirely virtual, but I felt what it was like to be soul-mated.

The parallels

A near-death experience usually occurs unbidden. Someone unexpectedly “dies,” experiences ecstasy, and is then returned to deal with the consequences of this perceptual shift. That’s what my near-ecstasy experience was like, too. It was unexpected to begin with; it served up a rich layered dessert of mental and emotional bliss, and then it vanished. I guess that happens to rich layered desserts!

As with an NDE, I won’t know all the answers to my questions. Yet putting this experience in the same context as an NDE has helped me move through it. I have learned to look for the lessons and for the gifts. This process has minimized my getting caught up in the blame game or feeling too sorry for myself. Conceiving it as a planned event in my Earth School curriculum has motivated me to rise above the pain of paradise suddenly denied me. It also helps me better empathize with what NDErs feel when they are sent back to the snake pit.