Philosophy & Culture

The Legendary Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh on How to Do “Hugging Meditation”

To give each other our full love and open hearts is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do for one another – yet we rarely give each other this gift because we’re scared of vulnerability.

However, master Zen teacher Thic Nhat Hanh has explored why it is important we do so and how we can achieve openhearted living.

In the late 1960s, Nhat Hanh invented a technique to foster deep open-hearted love. He created this technique when he was in the US when he realized that many people in the west struggled with physical touch, like hugging.

However, according to him, hugging is one of the easiest ways to disarm barriers and open our love.

In his book, “How To Love”, he says:

“According to the practice, you have to really hug the person you are holding. You have to make him or her very real in your arms, not just for the sake of appearances, patting him on the back to pretend you are there, but breathing consciously and hugging with all your body, spirit, and heart. Hugging meditation is a practice of mindfulness. “Breathing in, I know my dear one is in my arms, alive. Breathing out, she is so precious to me.” If you breathe deeply like that, holding the person you love, the energy of your care and appreciation will penetrate into that person and she will be nourished and bloom like a flower.”

Hugging is at the heart of core Zen principles . Nhat Hanh also described how you can go about it:

“Hugging is a deep practice; you need to be totally present to do it correctly. When I drink a glass of water, I invest one hundred percent of myself in drinking it. You can train yourself to live every moment of your daily life like that.

Before hugging, stand facing each other as you follow your breathing and establish your true presence. Then open your arms and hug your loved one. During the first in-breath and out-breath, become aware that you and your beloved are both alive; with the second in-breath and out-breath, think of where you will both be three hundred years from now; and with the third in-breath and out-breath, be aware of how precious it is that you are both still alive.

When you hug this way, the other person becomes real and alive. You don’t need to wait until one of you is ready to depart for a trip; you may hug right now and receive the warmth and stability of your friend in the present moment.”

 


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