I had a bad dream last night. I dreamt that my family wanted nothing to do with me. I woke up whimpering and as I lay there still half asleep and half awake, the first thought that came to mind was, mommy I need a hug. And I did. While that dream could not have been further from the truth, the feelings I had had in the dream of being abandoned and left behind shook me. There was a pain in my stomach. The kind that makes you hunch over. My heart hurt.
When I was a little kid I had all of these raw emotions as most children do. Sometimes controlling them felt like a struggle. Sometimes they just poured out of me whether or not I wanted them to. This was unfortunate at times because sometimes my emotions felt like waves of anger mixed with an intense amount of energy. Like a temper tantrum but only on the inside, my feelings remained hidden from the world but alive and well as they sat and stirred within me. I struggled with these intense feelings. They were foreign forces to me and came at unexpected times. I didn’t talk about these feelings but somehow my mom must have noticed them anyway.
One day I was having one of those days where irritation meets annoyance and syncs with anger. Like a rocket I felt as though I was ready for lift off at any moment. My mom and I were in the kitchen and she turned to me and said, “Do you need a hug?” The stubborn part of me wanted to say no and brush her off but for some reason I pushed my wall aside that afternoon and let my mom hug me. As she held me, I could feel her love. My body started to calm down. My skin had stopped burning up and my head pulsed a little less. Within her arms while my anger melted away I was confronted with my pain. I cried. When our embrace was over, she told me that any time I needed a hug to just ask her. I shook my head in understanding. Wow, what a difference a hug makes.
A hug is such a little thing yet we find ourselves ignoring its power, its ability to spread love. We find ourselves giving shorter and shorter hugs since we’re all in a rush to go somewhere, email something, text a friend back, respond to someone’s tweet, and post a photo on Instagram. We have all these social media platforms designed for the specific reason of allowing people to connect with one another yet we ignore how much more we feel connected from a hug rather than from a friend’s like, post or tweet. Social media cannot give us the warmth a hug does. Yet day in and day out we prefer to connect with others via the internet as opposed to in person.
In fact people are starting to see hugs as something more than a polite way to greet a friend or family member that a man from Seattle started a business based on hugs for hire. A former actor and ballroom dancer, Mitchell Diers started his company, Snuggle up Seattle, when he realized how important the sense of touch was. Mitchell’s interactions with his clients involve hand holding, snuggling, cuddling, spooning and even watching a movie together. Mitchell however has strict rules when it comes to his clients as he does not allow any inappropriate touching and has a strict policy when it comes to his client’s hygiene.
Mitchell’s business is capitalizing on people’s need to connect through touch. While I find his philosophy interesting, I begin to question why it is that we cannot grant friends and family this love without having to ask them to pay a price. Have we become such electronic communicators and connectors that we’ve forgotten how to interact with one another when we’re standing side by side?
In a day where mindfulness is not only a popular topic of conversation, but the “in” thing to practice like Pilates and Yoga, how is it possible that something as little as a hug has managed to go unnoticed? Where has our attention gone when it’s not being mindful of our behavior? Have we gotten so accustomed to our daily routines that providing a hug just doesn’t seem to fit in our schedule? When connecting with others virally seems like a no brainer, why is that we have never felt more disconnected? Perhaps a hug could solve that problem.