'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menosukhi - to hug, or not?

Over on Friday's TAKE TOO post, I joined in a little round of hugs. Many years ago the gift from a client of A Little Book of Hugs was received and it struck me at the time to think 'what is the state of the world that we need instruction on hugs?'  The giving of the book itself brought up a point. Giving it to one such as myself, known for hugs, was a pretty safe bet and a warm extension of a relationship already understood. The thought arose, though, as to whether the book might be given by one to another where the lack of hugs had been felt?  In the role of counsellor and in therapeutic healing environments generally, hugs - or the refusal of them - can reveal so much more than words.

Another client once said "your hugs feel like coming home to me". Honour indeed, but it had to be accepted in the context that the person concerned had been hug-deprived for many a long year. There were very many who would not have accepted a hug even if it were offered; and knowing just when to offer and when not is something of a skill in itself.  Even as a hug enthusiast, there have been the odd times when I have not wanted to accept one, for the simple reason that I did not trust the nature of the hug being offered, whether on an instinctual, physical level or on the basis that there was implied control which came along with it.

There are those in the world who, culturally, will not participate in public hugging. Then there are those who learn that hugging leads to negative experiences.

Perpetrators of such hugs are, in many ways, more damaging than wielders of weapons (not that such is anyway being condoned!). There is no need for me to give you graphic breakdowns of the walking devils who would lure the innocent and betray the trust of love.  I have seen the results of that.  The flinch at any approach, the abhorrence even of being touched. The veil in the eyes.

It has also been my privilege to see the dawn of affection again in such lives.  Trust restored in an act that is universal and so necessary. 

It has been appropriate at times to advise others, who are desperately seeking affection, not to 'chase' hugs; equally there are more who have needed it pointed out that their demand of hugging is little more than a threat of bondage.

Hugs, like any language, require correct usage and interpretation.

It is a language the better for being practiced. This much I know.


  1. Yes a complex issue indeed.
    I always respected dear old Hamish's apparent desire to be left alone, to maintain a certain distance and not smothered in hugs. But I am delighted that Bertie is such an affectionate little chap and loves curling up on my lap or being held in my arms.
    Gail (a slightly wary hugger, where humans are concerned).

  2. I've been involved in very local politics for ten years. For all ten I have dealt with a semi smarmy regional politician who hugs everyone, in the name of old world bon homie. He is a Greek immigrant, he even kisses men. However, he's been here sixty years and knows the language. As in what part of No don't you understand.
    The first time I met him I approached him, hand extended. He reached right past and I was bear hugged. Second meeting, same situation. Third meeting I said Please do not hug me. He reached right in and grabbed me. I threw off his arms and showed him my fist. In front of many people. He turned beet red.
    At a meeting some time later he publicly asked for my endorsement for the next general election. I said No. Politics!

  3. I once got a hug from a complete stranger in Rome. They were giving them away! My tourgroup were a bit surprised to see me hugging this really nice looking young man, but it felt good.

  4. I'm a hugger by nature, but only when I know a hug will be welcomed. But, oh, the comfort of a hug at the right time...


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