07 Apr This New Therapy is Changing Lives Across the Globe
There is something not quite right with our lives. Most of us click and interact with tens or even hundreds of people in our social networks and still go through a whole day without experiencing even a single, affectionate and body-warming hug from a fellow human being.
In actual fact, when John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends, introduced the idea of ‘high tech-high touch’ in the 80’s, it was widely regarded as just a trendy catchphrase that had limited applicability in the real world. Yet he was able to predict what has come to be widely accepted the more wired the human race becomes, the more we yearn to feel the warmth and comfort of sensual interaction.
The spread of hug therapy
That is one of the reasons why cuddle and hug therapy practices and sessions have become all the rage in the last couple of years. For instance in Penfield, near Rochester in New York, Jacqueline Samuel’s practice will charge you $60 per hour to experience therapeutic and non-sexual touch. In San Francisco, on the western coast of the US, 29-year-old Travis Sigley runs the Cuddle Therapy and charges $75 per hour where one gets to enjoy spooning and non-sexual hugging in a trustworthy, loving and safe environment.
Then there is India’s Amma, dubbed the ‘hugging saint’, who has cuddled millions of people during her tours around the globe aimed at promoting selfless love and compassion. Her tours, characterized by hugs and meditation, have been featured in prominent magazines like Rolling Stone and on networks such as PBS.
In the recent past, Chris DeCicco, who previously used to sell software while working as a sales executive, has founded a company known as Be the Love You Are based in Boulder, Colorado. For $60 per hour, the company provides non-sexual hugging sessions where the participants are fully-clothed, and it is among six others that offer similar services. There is a yoga center where snuggle parties are held during evening hours over the weekend. During these parties, participants are involved in the new system of social-somatic networking, and one can dress in yoga pants or pajamas.
DeCicco explains that the participants, in one-to-one sessions, do a bit of breathing together, perhaps some eye gazing and then set an intention. He adds that the clients then have to loudly vocalize their intention, which is essentially what they want to happen in the session. For example, one might say they want to feel more trust or heal the wounds from a divorce that they have gone through. In other words, the intention is a powerful yet simplified statement of their goal.
DeCicco is a tantra student and a practitioner of kundalini yoga and he also has affiliations with the Mankind Project, a non-profit organization that mentors men. After going through a divorce, he began working on his intimacy and personal issues. This led him to appreciate how much applying therapeutic touch had healed and transformed him.
Health benefits of hug therapy
Research has proved that hugging boosts the functioning of beneficial hormones and minimizes the effects and levels of harmful hormones, at the very least in controlled environments. In a study that was published in the respected Psychosomatic Medicine journal, Karen Grewen, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, has established that:
- The heartbeat of people who did not have any contact with one another rose by 10 beats when couples were required to talk about topics that were likely to induce anger. In contrast, couples who talked about the same topics but hugged each other for twenty seconds exhibited an increase of only five beats per minute.
- Those couples who hugged showed a significant increase in levels of oxytocin- also called the pleasure hormone.
- In regulated hugging sessions, cortisol also called the stress hormone and which may have harmful physical effects, reduced more noticeably among women when compared to men.
- During the experiment, the blood pressure of those who did not hug one another rose considerably than those who hugged when prompted.
Hugging therapy has been noted to have many health benefits. Sigley, of Cuddle Therapy, has witnessed great change among particular clients who bring their complex past problems into the sessions. His hugging sessions normally start with guided meditations. He reveals that after the initial stages that involve sitting face-to-face with a client and breaking the ice, he has assisted weeping and wounded clients (whose ages range from 19 years to 60 years) to reclaim their feelings of warmth and safety after going through rape or abuse that might have happened a long time ago.
Sigley discloses that at times he has been left with a sense of disbelief after the sessions. He adds that he is still amazed at the level of trust the clients feel after embracing and knowing that he is not there to do anything harmful.
When it comes to clients with less complicated pasts, Sigley notes that the main focus is to reintroduce touch to their lives. He advises that it is not essentially about the cuddling but more about being able to cultivate so much empathy and trust in a stranger that one has no problem embracing them.
Such a high degree of human connection gives a new meaning to the expression ‘high touch’.
Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.
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