When I ask you how you feel about hugs, what do you say?
“Omg I LOVE hugs!”
Lies. People don’t love hugs. I mean we DO hugs. Obviously I hug my mom and Dad goodbye or I’ll hug a friend I haven’t seen in awhile. But these last about 1.5 seconds. And I NEVER hug the random guy I meet at a job interview. Or at Subway ordering a foot long. I’m not trying to get abducted. Or worse, have him smell my after gym B.O.
So I was blown away when I attended National Hugging Day at Agape International Spiritual Center yesterday, and was told that in order to feel the full effect of a hug it must last for over TWENTY SECONDS. It’s hard for me to wait the twenty seconds I put my coffee into the microwave after pouring too much almond milk in it. You want me to hug a stranger for 21 seconds?!? (And for you super enlightened, yes I know microwave equals bad, but I counterbalanced with almond milk soo chill.)
Cue the Hug Doctor. Yes, this sounds like a 1990’s porno. No, you will not later see me on Skin-a-max. The way he explained it was like this: “In these days where everyone is so preoccupied with inappropriate touch-”
Whoa. Inappropriate touch? Let’s not go there. As far as I know Harvey Weinstein doesn’t read my blog. And I just said this wasn’t Skin-a-max. But the Hug Doctor did make a point. He said that Oxytocin (not OxyContin) isn’t released until after twenty seconds of doing something. So you have to hold that hug uncomfortably long. It’s scientifically proven (by who? I’m not sure but I’ll take his word for it) that this helps lower blood pressure, lessons anxiety, and gets those endorphins WAY up there. Probably wouldn’t be bad for your sex life, either. Ahem, I mean family show. Carrying on.
So I decided to try this 21 second hug challenge. Here’s the video of me completing said challenge. I will narrate my experience below.
OK. Hug. So I’m going to ignore the fact that a strange man is hugging me. Do I smell? I mean I didn’t shower this morning. Oh wait. He’s talking to me. He’s saying, “Just relax, it’s like yoga.” I do yoga! Not sure how hugging is like that headstand I did the one time I almost broke my neck. But OK. “Or like meditation,” he says. Even better! I got this. OK, how long has it been? I open my eyes, make an awkward face at my friend taping me like a creep-o for the love of this blog, close them, oh yeah, and relax.
But then I started to get into it. I did relax. And it was, well, peaceful. And stress free. And I did start to feel happier. Especially when he started saying things like, “You are a leader. You have a lot to offer.” Please tell me more about how awesome I am. I mean I can’t argue with the man. He’s a Doctor. And when I had survived the 21 seconds, I did feel lighter. Maybe because I had sweat out a little water weight due to nerves, but lighter nonetheless.
Now on to the main event. We were also there to witness an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records of most nationalities in a hug. Everyone gathered together and one by one the representatives of each nation were called forth. Algeria, England, France, Germany, Ghana, I have to admit I got a lump in my throat. It was beautiful. In a world where flipping each other off in traffic is way more prevalent than hugging, I was grateful to be in a place where so many people were coming together for the common goal of hugs over hates. We all cheered together when the moderator asked if any other nationalities were present and a man in the back waved his hand. Of course the moderator had to thoroughly check his passport, but then it was announced that, “Yes! We have Liberia in the house!” I’m not even sure how many nations were there or if we did break the record, but I didn’t care. This was life. This is how it’s supposed to be. At risk of being too preachy, I need to say in that moment it was clear that whatever color, whatever nation, we were all HUMAN. And we were one. And for that I am grateful.
So even if you missed national hugging day, go out and hug someone today! Maybe not for 21 seconds. Save that for your significant other. Or your cat. But spread the love. I hugged about 5 more strangers on my way out of Agape. And I assure you I never felt so safe. Or alive. And that’s what it’s all about, right?
And so it is.
P.S. If you feel so moved please share this on Facebook, leave a comment, or spread the word about the blog. I’ll send you a virtual 21 second hug!!