Psychotherapist Virginia Satir rather famously said, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” And there’s a lot of truth in that. Babies who aren’t stroked and touched and held develop a syndrome called failure to thrive and can actually die from not receiving enough contact. There are many, many recent studies showing that animals also require an abundance of physical touching to develop and maintain healthy bodies and nervous systems. What one psychologist referred to as, “skin hunger,” has been linked to depression, apathy, heart disease, and a lack of empathy.
The conundrum, of course, is that a lot of us don’t have anyone to hug. Eleanor Rigby is real. A recent survey by Cigna found that an astonishing 46 percent of U.S. adults report sometimes or always feeling lonely and 47 percent report feeling left out.
Just think about that: when you pass someone on the street there’s almost a fifty percent chance that he or she feels very much alone. And the same thing may be true when you look in the mirror.
So where do we get that hug-energy that we need to be happy?
We might consider getting frequent massages, which is fine, but most of us can’t pop for 60 to a 100 bucks a week. And we can’t go around hugging strangers because, as The Searchers have already told us, they’ll break our little bottle of Love Potion #9.
We might find the help we need in contemplating The Ace of Cups. As I said in my original definition:
It emphasizes the divine origin of love and how it flows into the world and nourishes all that it touches. The lotuses echo the Buddhist symbol for the divine in the human spirit. They begin life in the mud and yet grow into the air and produce beautiful flowers.
The scientists who documented the need to touch and be touched ignored an important part of the phenomenon because it’s not in their purview: love. It doesn’t help us at all to be touched angrily or hit or jabbed or abused. Quite the opposite, it’s worse than not being touched at all.
No, what makes us grow, what makes us thrive, what makes us healthy is being touched with affection. That’s what a hug is, right?
The Heart Chakra is attuned to the vibration of love and love is what makes it healthy and glowing and open. It doesn’t in the least bit discriminate about where the love is coming from, it just vibrates to that energy. The love can come from another human being or a pet or a divine entity or from . . . our Selves.
Psychologist Gay Hendricks believes that we only find true abundance when we cease viewing ourselves as consumers of abundance and start viewing ourselves as generators of abundance. In other words, we don’t have to look for external sources of abundance because we can make it ourselves.
And that’s true of any energy, including love. The Heart Chakra doesn’t just receive love, it also generates it and, paradoxically, in generating it, it receives it.
When we have genuine, conscious compassion, when we practice loving-kindness, even when we pet our dogs or cats, we’re generating love straight out of our heart chakras. It’s not hard. We don’t have to be meditation masters. We can just sit and visualize the face or touch of someone we love, really feel that love, and every time we do, we surround ourselves with love.
Or, to put it another way, we give ourselves a hug. We can do it 4 times a day, or 8 times a day, or – if we want to grow – 12 times a day.
As The Beatles said, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.” And we can make as much as we want to. We ARE the Ace of Cups if we choose to be.