How to practice hugging mediation

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mother and daughter hug

There are many different types of meditation, one I don’t teach very often but which I really love to practice is called ‘hugging meditation’. It was invented by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay).  When he first came to the West from Vietnam he was a bit taken aback (being a monastic!) when people hugged him, they didn’t do that to monastics in his home country.  But he noticed something interesting.  He noticed that that when we hug each other it is meant as a meaningful gesture but somehow (maybe because we’re not so mindful!) it was at the same time not very meaningful.  We embrace the person, maybe pat them on the back and it takes about 2 seconds… not even enough time for one breath! So he invented this practice as way for people to say goodbye to a loved one and to really acknowledge that they are there, embracing you, with you, for that precious moment.

step one:

Face the person you are going to hug. Both of you place your hands together in the lotus/prayer position at your heart centre and each of you bow to the other to recognise that you are there together.  This is a deep practice.

step two

Embrace.  Hold each other for three deliberate deep breaths. Breathing together.  With first breath we are aware that we are present in this very moment and we are happy. With the second breath, we are aware that the other is present in this moment and we recognise we are happy. With the third breath, we are aware that we are here together, right now on this earth, and we feel deep gratitude and happiness for our togetherness.

step three

We then may release the other person and bow to each other to show our thanks.

Join palms once again and bow once again to recognise each others presence, to say thanks for being there and for the hug and to remember the moment.

And that’s it! How much nicer and more special that is than a quick touch and go!

Thay writes: “When we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we are not separate beings. Hugging with mindfulness and concentration can bring reconciliation, healing, understanding, and much happiness. The practice of mindful hugging has helped so many to reconcile with each other- fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and friends, and so many others…

We do not need to wait until one of us is ready to depart for a trip, we may hug right now and receive the warmth and stability of our friend in the present moment. Hugging can be a deep practice of reconciliation. During the silent hugging, the message can come out very clear: “Darling, you are precious to me. I am sorry I have not been mindful and considerate. I have made mistakes. Allow me to begin anew. I Promise.”

Let me know how you get on with this practice.

I taught it last week to a group of 20 women in Belfast. They all enjoyed it and said it was ‘lovely’  it does engender nice feelings!

Pictured above is the lovely Gillian with her angel of a daughter Jorja who have been practising mindfulness together for a few weeks and found to be really beneficial, Gillian for her daily busy life and Jorja for school and exam stress!

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