I noticed it right away. My body is frozen and I am decidedly uncomfortable. I am scared, my heart is pounding, and my throat feels like it’s constricted. I’m having a panic attack.
It’s my first Tantra workshop, and we are learning how to hug.
I don’t do hugs.
Well, I mean if I HAVE to I will, BUT, it’s definitely an “‘A” hug. You’ve seen them right?
It’s a weak attempt to wrap an arm around the top of the shoulders of the other person, and you never lean in too far. Your legs are far away from each other. God forbid your hips meet.
It never lasts more than a millisecond and bodies hardly touch. It is enough just to say, there I did it. We hugged, right?
That’s the “A” style hug.
Now an “I” style hug … that’s completely different. And that’s what I was being asked to do.
Oh God. There’s no room between the bodies, and the hug is tight. I mean tight. My friend is a great hugger, and she loves them. She gives “I” style hugs, and she is a natural. And she learned it in her family. They are all natural huggers.
But not me. Nope. We didn’t hug in our family. It’s not what Scottish people do. We are definitely “A” style huggers. We don’t even say “I love you” either, so hugging would have been just plain weird.
Back to the Tantra workshop, I am like a deer in the headlights. Frozen like the North Pole.
The poor guy who’s trying to hug me is having a really hard time as the teacher tells us to make sure our thighs are touching. What? Thigh touching. You’ve got to be kidding. What kind of workshop is this?
So we (attempt to) hug for almost 30-60 seconds, and then we can stop. I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Thank God that’s over.
Without human touch though we lose our connection to ourselves and to others. We die inside.
But then it’s the next person in the circle and gosh, don’t I have to do it again, and again,and again. It doesn’t get any easier, until finally the last guy comes towards me. We begin our hug. Heart to heart. Thigh to thigh, close, tight and yet I’m still uncomfortable. What is wrong with me?
Then something inside of me shifts. I begin to let go. Despite the constant thighs touching it doesn’t feel quite so weird anymore. I think I’m getting used to it. I can feel my body soften, just a little. With his chest against mine I can feel my heart beating. I hear my breath. I sense myself. I sense him. I feel present.
This is an “I” hug.
It’s only 30-60 seconds but it feels like an eternity to me and this time, I don’t want it to stop?
He holds me as all the others had done, and I hold him. But this time it’s different.
Like chocolate, I’m beginning to melt. Warm, sweet honey, I can feel my body relax and I begin to trust.
Oooooh … so this is what it’s supposed to feel like?
It’s not sexual.
It’s safe. Loving. Real. Connection.
- Deeper connections don’t happen by magic.
- They take effort, time and practice.
- We must be willing to trust, let go and relax.
- We open our hearts and let love in.
I’m finally trusting. I’m letting go and I’m relaxing in a hug.
I drop my defenses and I open my heart. I let go.
When was the last time you opened your heart in a hug?
Over lunch I go to him. “I have to tell you something” I say and I watch as a concerned look appears on his face. “I had a breakthrough with you”. My heart is beating very fast and my mouth is dry. I’m not used to being vulnerable and telling people the deepest things going on with me.
“You did”? He is curious to know more.
“Yes”. I take a deep breath. “Remember the hugging exercise we did”?
“Well, when we hugged, you created a safe space for me to trust”. I explain. “You held me in a way that helped me to let go so I could allow the hug. Do you know what I mean”?
I really wanted him to get what I was saying.
“I think so” he said, but I’m not sure he did.
“It was really important for me” I went on. “I have struggled with allowing anyone close most of my life, and with your hug, well that seemed to magically disappear. I wanted to tell you so you would know I’m so grateful.
I was gushing now, eager for him to understand.
“I, I mean not in a sexual way, well, just that it was really nice and it opened me up to something I’ve never felt before with anyone, so thank you. I mean it. Really. Thank you”.
He looked at me and smiled. “Really? Wow!” His eyes were sparkling. “I did that?”. His question was genuine.
“Yes, so thank you“. I was still nervous, but less so.
“Thanks for telling me” he went on. “I had no idea”.
“Well, I just wanted you to know”. I explained. We smiled, and then it was a little awkward.
“Do you want another hug?” he asked.
“Oh yes please” I laughed. And when we hugged for the second time, I felt it again.
Safe. Warm. Comfortable. Connected. Not weird. And not awkward.
HOW TO CREATE THE ‘I’ HUG EXPERIENCE
Have no expectations, and just enjoy the experience!
- Move together into a hug.
- Embrace and connect at the heart by touching chests, left to left (not straight on)
- Touch thighs against each other.
Don’t be afraid to be close.
- If the hug is with a friend, breathe normally, drop into the hug and allow yourself to let go and relax by breathing deeply in flow.
- If the hug is with your lover, try some Tantric breathing in addition to the physical hug. Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth (this helps complete the energy circuit).
- As the man breathes out he imagines his energy entering the woman at her root chakra (base of the spine) and the woman breathes in, imagining the energy flowing up from the pelvic floor to her heart.
- As the woman breathes out, the man imagines taking her energy back in through his heart and moving down his spine to his root chakra. This circular breath helps sexual energy flow in a cosmic circle through you both. The direction of the energy can also be switched.
Don’t worry, you can’t do it wrong.
- Notice what comes up for you and let it be present.
- Allow yourself to be held. Hold the other person. Remember they are having their own experience too.
Relax and enjoy the embrace.
- Hug for about 12 breaths or 30-60 seconds.
- As you separate, share freely about your experience.
If, like me, you find this tough, persevere. It gets better.
The secret is the thigh to thigh contact, and not making it sexual. If you want to practice with others (not your lover), just breathe normally throughout the entire hug experience.
Just keep on hugging.