How to Give a Hug
This article is about how to give the best hug possible to those people you really want to hug. Giving a hug is a great place to practice the ChiWalking and ChiRunning principles of issuing and gathering energy. This article won’t help you for those social hugs where you do your best to keep a distance, this is not about a polite, social hug. This is about giving a hug that sends a clear message of caring.
As far as I know, the hug is a universal interaction between two people. It’s done in every culture. It’s a way to say hello and good-bye; it can give comfort in times of need, worry, or disappointment. It can express gratitude, and it can express sexual interest, but we’re not going there with this article. This is about giving a great holiday hug (or anytime-of-year-hug) to those you care about.
To create a great hug, you want to set up the conditions for energy to flow between you and the other person. It’s great to give warmth and love and also make the other person feel welcome and received by you.
As in ChiRunning and ChiWalking, when you’re giving a hug, you want to be aware of when you are putting energy out, and when you are taking energy in, of when you are gathering, and when you are issuing. A great hug has both components of gathering and issuing. If you share this article with one of those people you want to hug, and you both practice, you can create the perfect blend of giving and receiving energy between the two of you.
While you’re learning to give and get the greatest hug ever, you’ll be improving your ChiWalking and ChiRunning technique. Yes, you can be hugging your kids, your grandchildren, your partner, your spouse, your dearest friends, and be attentive to your exercise program at the same time because you’ll be practicing the principles of gathering and issuing.
In a chi hug, you set up yourself to be receptive to another person while maintaining a strong sense of your own presence. Feeling and creating your own grounded presence is the foundation. The location in our body to feel yourself, is in your center, your dantien, that place two inches below your navel and in toward your spine. Actually, the midst of a hug is a good time to feel your centerline, your entire spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head, with a primary focus on your dantien. When you can create that awareness of self and center, you have more to give and also a better place from which to welcome and receive another.
The more you can be aware of your centerline and your dantien, the more chi will flow in your life no matter what you’re doing: hugging, running, walking, or sitting and typing at a desk. Awareness of your center and your centerline gives you a strong sense of your own presence.
From the strong center you are then prepared to initiate or receive a hug. One of our favorite lines from the Persian poet Rumi is, “Open your arms if you want an embrace!”
When you offer a hug, you are issuing energy toward the person you are approaching. If someone comes toward you, and you want to engage in the hug, you’ll want to be receptive and take that person in. If you spontaneously decided to hug, as you welcome a dear friend into your home, you may just find that perfect balance of giving and receiving, of feeling yourself and the other person, that gives us that sense that we really are in this whole thing together. Hugs are often spontaneous and happen quickly, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be prepared. A T’ai Chi Master is always quietly prepared for whatever is coming his way.
From your strong sense of self and center, the next key component is to receive. That is an activity that many of us are not very good at doing. However, what makes a hug so great for the other person is when they feel totally received and welcome by you. Taking in energy is equally as important as issuing energy, again, in everything you do whether it’s walking, running, or hugging. Most of us are so focused on doing, on going faster, on going farther, that we forget that we need to take in energy to balance out all of that “issuing.”
In the higher levels of ChiRunning and ChiWalking you learn to gather with every step. When your right arm is coming forward and your left hip is coming forward, that is gathering…when that right arm goes back and that left hip goes back, then you’re issuing on that side. We practice issuing and gathering on each side throughout all our runs and walks.
So, here are steps to take to create a great hug:
- Feel your centerline and your dantien.
- As you put your arms around the other person don’t pull them in too forcefully with your arms, but instead gather in from your ribs (by closing the spaces between them) and let your arms follow like the chi ball exercise on page 207 of the ChiRunning book and page 155 of the ChiWalking book. Feel your whole torso gathering in. You should feel the “C” Shape of your spine, chin down, pelvis leveled.
- Take a deep breath as you approach your friend and softly exhale as you hug them.
- Feel the other person’s caring and feel your caring for them.
- When you release from the hug, look the person in the eyes and drink in what you see.Take them in, and give of yourself.
- Refocus on feeling your centerline and dantien and savor the feel of energy flowing between you.
In the chi hug, you are not giving a hug, you are drawing the other person into your Center. You don’t give a hug, you create a hug. You give of yourself, while fully receiving and taking in the other.
As you practice, just like in ChiRunning and ChiWalking, you want to observe where you feel resistance, where you feel tension, where you are holding back. A hug is a great place to learn more about yourself, and a great place to give of yourself, at the same time.
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