Don’t let go first

2016-3-15 Sis Hawkins arrives (6).JPGI am what they call the “Mission Mother” and I do hugs.  I’ve been thinking about the good hugging that goes on in missionary life as I hug the Sister missionaries and watch the Elders greet and hug each other.  My hugs for the Elders must wait until their last day as we say our goodbyes at the airport.  That’s when I break the rules and embrace them with all my heart.  In the meantime, they see my hugs and feel them from a distance.

They told me I’d learn to love every missionary.  I believed that, but had no idea how much I’d love them.  Two weeks before we arrived in Yakima a year ago, our youngest son turned 20.  Honestly, I was feeling happy to have survived my kids’ teenage years, and was ready to move on to the next phase of their lives.

Then I found myself dropped into mission life, with as many as 185 new teenage children to look after.  I wondered how I would manage that.  More Teenagers!  Way More Teenagers!  Then I began to meet them, and know them and love them.  I’ve learned that the capacity to love is a gift from God.  He has given me that gift and my heart has grown and stretched as I have come to love each missionary here.

Don’t let go first.

Hugs help everything.  Hugs help lonely, homesick, sad, mad, or hurt.  Hugs help stomach aches and headaches and ingrown toe nails.  Hugs say, “I’m here with you right now. Everything will be right.”  My hugs are mothers’ hugs.  They represent 185 other women who can’t be here right now.  Hugs are serious.  I need them as much as I need to give them because my kids can’t be here right now either.

The most important thing I’ve learned about hugs is don’t let go first.   Affection has no timer.  For some it’s long and for some it’s short.  In either case, I don’t let go first.  It makes all the difference.

Hug tighter

10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day

 2016-4-11 Office Monday (11)

Hugging therapy is definitely a powerful way of healing. Research shows that hugging (and also laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.

Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in these ways:
1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.
2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.
4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
5. Hugging boosts. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.
6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.
9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.
10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.
There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Eight or more might seem quite high, but while researching and writing this article I asked my child, “How many hugs a day do you like?” She said, “I’m not going to tell you how many I like, but it’s way more than eight.” That really made me smile and touched my heart. And, I realized how organic and deep the need for hugs is.
Just hug me

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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2 Responses to Don’t let go first

  1. Kim Running says:

    Ann, I absolutely loved this post. I have had one of my children comment about how it makes them feel when I keep hugging until they let go. They feel differently about those hugs than the ones when they are let go first. Thank you for sharing your insights. And thank you for your service!
    Kim Running

  2. Alan Johnson says:

    Ann, this is a great post. Our son, Evan, served a mission in Portland and got to help teach and baptize Sister Hernandez, who just joined your sister missionary ranks. When we put two and two together we were so happy you and John were going to be her Mission President and “Mission Mother”. We were able to meet her and her family a couple of years ago and they have become dear friends. Thanks for all you do–and please give her a hug for us! Alan and Susan Johnson

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