Throughout this war, I feel as if I have been walking through a thick cloud of fog. My “slow uptake “responses to the world around me are due to the fact that my mind is always barraged by the mundane every day activities, and the reality that a war is going on at the same exact time.
The fog lifts for brief moments…time playing with my children, visits with friends, and meeting someone I have not seen randomly in the supermarket. Yet it is quick to return its cold, gray head.
The only respite I have found to lift me from the fog is giving hugs. I know, it is such a simple task, but I have found myself needing to find comfort in the warm embrace of my family, my friends, and my own self.
This reminds me of the children’s book Hug, by Jez Alborough. It is a book about a monkey named Bobo who tries to explain to his friends that he just needs a hug, but no one understands him. He tries to explain it to all of the other animals in the jungle, but they do not know what he wants. Bobo becomes very frustrated until his request is finally recognized by all and he is given the world’s biggest hug. Bobo is happy as can be, and he is ensconced in the love of his jungle friends, and his family.
Scientists have proven that hugs lower one’s blood pressure, lower stress hormones (cortisol), and increase social connections between individuals. It has also been proven that couples who hug more often have a higher percentage of staying together as a couple.
Hugs are such a simple form of contact. The warm hug of a friend or loved one in a time of happiness or sadness can truly uplift one’s spirits and calm one’s soul. I venture to say that hugs, due to the contact of one body to another, connect a soul more readily than the typical “air kiss” gesture friends usually greet each other with in today’s modern world. A hug connects to another, heart touching heart, and soul to soul.
My husband’s rabbi, Rav Mordechai Twerski, originally from Denver, Colorado, was nick-named the Hugachover Rebbe. Why? He always greeted his congregants with huge bear hugs. Often the hugs would last more than a minute. When the hug was released, both said huggers would be grinning from ear to ear. The sheer power of embrace was a powerful gift towards a happy soul.
So, I propose to all during this Operation Protective Edge to simply give someone a hug. A family member, a friend, a neighbor…all could use a hug. And, do not skimp on that hug. Hold him/her tight for more than a few seconds. Do not be embarrassed to let it linger. Touch is a simple way to let another one into your world, your pain, your happiness, your fears, and your hopes with the power of touch.
Many people are afraid of hugs, they are uncomfortable, they find themselves retracting from a hug. It is these people that need to take a deep breath, and let themselves go for a minute. We all need to embrace the current reality, and let ourselves hug others, and be hugged. We need to let ourselves cry and laugh through the embrace and find a way to share our empathy with others. Perhaps a huge hug can end this war. I will keep giving bear hugs, and hope that more will do the same.