I had been to see my parents last year, as I often do on a weekend. As I was on my way out of their house, saying the normal goodbyes, my Dad gave me a hug and kiss goodbye. It wasn’t until I got into my car and was driving down the road that I really felt properly into how that hug had felt. Now it wasn’t a bad hug, it was the normal one he had probably been giving me for most of my life.
But this time around, what I actually felt was just how hard it was. My Dad’s arms had been tight when they hit my body, feeling rather cold. Then there had been a slight squeeze, which actually had not felt slight at all – it had felt rather abrupt and uncomfortable. Then I got the pat on the back, leaving me with the feeling like I’d just been patted like a dog. It all felt rather hard and not very loving or heartfelt.
Feeling all this from the hug, I decided to call my Dad to let him know that I didn’t like how we had just parted. So I pulled over in my car to call him. He answered the phone… I went on to explain what I had felt when he had just hugged me. I had not ever said anything like this to him before, so was very respectful and caring in how I expressed myself. I described how the hug had not felt gentle, it had felt hard and functional; and how that having a heartfelt hug was really such a loving parting gift one can give another, and that I really would like to experience a different way of parting with him. He was a little taken aback as you would expect, so I asked if when I saw him next would he be open to my showing him what I meant instead of us talking about it – to do a little lesson on how we can hug each other in the future. He agreed.
True to his word, when we next saw each other and I was ready to leave, we approached our first ‘hug lesson’! I asked him to give me a hug like he normally would, so he could feel what it was like, so we had a marker. It was the same hug as I had felt the previous time. I asked him to stop and to allow me to show him with my arms and body, what sort of hug I would like to receive. I put my arms around him very gently and tenderly, he automatically put his arms around me – they were still quite hard. I asked that he loosen up and soften his chest. It was all quite awkward and he got a little impatient, saying it was stupid. I explained he has been with his body for 67 years, not having been asked to hug this way before, so it may feel a little awkward and different. I explained that it has taken me some time to ‘hug in a more heartfelt way’ also, and that how I learnt to hug from my heart was from going to presentations by Serge Benhayon at Universal Medicine (UniMed), and that gradually I have been developing more love and tenderness for myself (which we all have naturally, but have just forgotten). Feeling the tenderness in my body has given me more awareness to make different choices, by understanding what feels loving or not so loving, i.e., ‘hard’.
My Dad knew of Serge Benhayon and UniMed from my having shared about Serge’s presentations in the past, so he was open to what I was saying – to the best of his ability in that moment anyway. We separated and started again. We tried this a few more times and now quite a few giggles and laughter started to come out. We ended our first hug lesson agreeing it was okay that he wasn’t able to do it differently first time ‘round and that we could just practice each time we saw each other. We hadn’t quite reached gentle and heartfelt, but we had certainly made progress.
That first ‘hug lesson’ was now over a year ago and hugs with my Dad have changed dramatically. I will add though, it has been a slow and gradual evolution. At times it was one step forward and then a few steps back. But what I will say is it has changed the way we interact – it has opened up a truly loving playfulness between he and I. Whenever we now go to hug, it is like our special connection, something we giggle at and have fun with. He is so much more conscious of how he touches me now and softens himself when we hug… tender, heartfelt and truly loving hugs are what we have come to share.
By Raegan Cairney
I had a male work colleague who could not accept a hug and they used an excuse not to hug. Then one day after a sales meeting when everyone was saying good bye for the day with a hug, they stepped forward and asked for a ‘Mary hug’ as they had heard so much about my hugs from the rest of the team. So I gave them a hug and they really liked being hugged said it felt reassuring and there was no agenda to it. So then for the rest of week they came up for their hug. Some hugs can convey more than the spoken word.
I am very aware that my body dislikes being patted in a hug, rather than feeling truly caring it feels like a distraction dressed up as care.
I too have been helping my Dad to be more tender when he hugs me. He lives on the other side of the country and it used to take a few days for him to re-adjust his hugs when he saw me but the last time I visited there was no re-adjustment needed, his hugs were tender from the day I arrived. There are many things that human beings champion as being of significance or importance but to me just one person being more tender when they hug is of true significance.
[…] Related Reading: Relationship Advice Living harmoniously with your partner 24/7 From Hardness to Heartfelt – Hugs with My Dad […]
Opening up the conversation as embracing as the hug.
A hug is a conversation.
I am experiencing that the more we openly share the truth we feel the more we offer each other the opportunity to let go of the protection we hold on to and allow our love from within to express who we naturally are. Yes it can feel awkward at first but deeper that is the sense of how true it feels.
Beautiful to read how if we ask another without a judgement to be more of who they actually are they can feel invited and willing to experiment. I will do a little experiment with my dad too next time I see him, instead of giving up and thinking things will always stay the same.
Thank you Reagan, what I learn from this is that we do not have to be perfect at all to actually grow or evolve in life. Quiet contrary, imperfection leads to change and actually playfulness too !
What a lovely example of showing how important it is to express fully what we feel, and how if expressed with love, care and respect it can bring a deepening of our relationships.
So much of who we are is felt in a hug as there is no hiding as we connect heart to heart. And we all have to learn to open ourselves to deeper level of Love we are so there is no holding back when we Hug another.
When I was reading through my first reaction was that I would not feel comfortable to say what you did about the hardness in the hugs, but it shows how social politeness can get in the way of deepening our love (and fun) in relationships. A truly joyful read.
Raegan, you highlight the beauty of how openly and honestly expressing how we feel with each other allows for more love to be shared in our relationships.
This photo of you both is so cute I love it!
Love will always open us up to new amazing opportunities and magical avenues, like you and your farther did all we need to do is we say yes.
When I read this blog it supports me to go deeper into reflecting on my relationship with my father and looking at how I am with him and how I can go much deeper in expressing myself and how I feel with him. I can feel that when I feel he is not open with me I also then hold back, expecting the parent to lead, instead of bringing what I know is needed.
Raegan I love this what a super sweet blog and what a super sweet dad you have – awesome he is open to deepening that connection with you and awesome you were able to express that to him.
A great example of the miracle true expression and the willingness to be open can bring.
When we choose to express what we really feel our relationships inevitably deepen and the way we are with each other physically, reflects this.
Change can be awkward and hard to grasp at first but the more we open our heart to Love the easier it is to live another way. By just talking about it, with each other as you did here Raegan everything can change. Thank you!
Men need to learn who they are in truth , gentle, caring and so so tender, beautiful Reagan.
I agree John, as being met and held in the presence of a man connected to tenderness is a graceful power that cannot be matched by any physicality alone… and melts me every time.
I remember having huge lessons with my current partner, both stiff as a board but over time has melted and can now be really lovely. Now used to such hugs from my family, partner and students of Universal Medicine or complete strangers I’ve met at Livingness one (a free open day taster course from UM). These days it can be a real shock to the system to get a bear hug or quick squish to avoid melting in each others arms, which can happen with anyone I have found and we deeply crave such.
I feel that your initiative of talking with your Dad about your hugs is very self-loving as well as an opportunity for you both to take your relationship into a deep new level. Very inspiring..
Because we have done things many times over it is easy to fall into a routine of just ‘getting it done’. Life is a never-ending rhythm offering every opportunity to go deeper in what and how we act. Having this in mind we can come via our heart and act in a more tenderness way the next time. A ritual of a hug can be a greater marker and celebration of what that deeper level of tenderness maybe and is.
Your Dad is very gorgeous, you can feel that in the quality of how he is with you.
This piece of writing is very beautiful on so many levels, but the one that stands out to me today is in the part about how you chose to stop and express what you could feel, with respect and honour to the person you were speaking with, and this is what caused all the change thereafter – that one simple choice to say what you could feel.
I remember hugging one person in particular and not knowing what it was I was feeling but it was a really yucky hug and I never looked forward to it – yet equally never said anything/ When I did there was a massive reaction and then I realised how tense I was at the prospect of the hug and the expectation I put on them to ‘deliver’ the hug to me. That person was a great turning point in my life and I appreciate the reflection they gave me in every hug I now have 🙂
Definitely changing the way we hug can have an impact on our relationships. By being open, honest and playful about the way we hug each other and allowing for change can bring a lightness and a deeper level of connectedness. This has happened with many friends and colleagues and even family members although these for me have been slower to evolve.
The playfulness with which you live every aspect of your life is infectious and no wonder your Dad was willing to try a different way of hugging out with you.
That’s very cool. I can imagine it would have felt awkward to begin with. i’ve definitely experienced that. Being vulnerable in front of another can feel soooo uncomfortable, but with time, it definitely gets easier and starts to feel natural again.
Wow Raegan I loved how your father slowly opened up and the fact that he was willing to go there and the last sentence ‘He is so much more conscious of how he touches me now and softens himself when we hug… tender, heartfelt and truly loving hugs are what we have come to share’ – has given him permission to treat you with such tenderness that he is appreciating what he probably didn’t receive when he was once young too.
We are all every bit as tender as one another, sometimes all we need is a little reminder…
Most people who do squeezey hugs don’t even realise they are doing it although they are usually aware of their own enthusiasm. By showing appreciation for a hug and asking that it might be more gentle we can quite often bring awareness and a welcome realisation to the other. Simply expressing how we feel from all the love that we are works wonders.
We have this thing where we think that a great big squeeze is telling someone how much we love them, when in fact it literally feels like they are holding you in and crushing you. A tender and gentle hug can say so much and leave you feeling appreciated and confirmed in the most beautiful way.
So beautiful Raegan for you to offer to your Dad another way of being, opening him up to the tenderness that lies within him and then to be able to share that with you, within a hug.
How very beautiful and tender, for you both Raegan, that you were open to sharing whilst your Dad was open to receiving and learning; what a gorgeous connection.
It is so touching to read how understanding you have been with your father, giving him the time and the space to re-learn his naturally gentle ways. You are a wonderful person.
So much said in the embrace of two people who love each other learning to express how they feel.
Oh yum, yes, how much is in a hug! I love that you appreciated the many years of hugging that create a pattern in the body which can take a while to undo! We have to un=learn our bodies ‘go-to-behaviour and that takes a commitment to consistency and an openness to feeling and learning more from what we feel from our bodies rather than what we have known from our heads.
What I love about this is the openess of your Dad, you can feel his genuineness and tenderness from what you write. I love how he was open to being more playful and wanting to meet you in another way- you can feel his love for you in that.
I love how this blog highlights the loving space we can give people to really support them.
I love the way you so honestly expressed to your Dad Raegan. So many of our gestures can become automatic and not so heartfelt. Through truly connecting with each other our layers of protection naturally begin to melt.
As you share this you can feel the beauty of the man he is and it is gorgeous that he is open to allowing more of his tenderness and love to be expressed.
There is the physical hug and now I have discovered the eye hug with my Dad. A shy man my Dad has always held back expressing his love openly as he felt that was an embarrassing act as a man. Learning to respect this and bringing even more love to our relationship over the years has lead to eye hugs where I get to view the glorious blue eyes of this deeply caring and sensitive man each time I visit my parents.
This is a great reminder Raegan, as so often I have received hugs from others feeling that same way and not said anything, but by not saying anything, they don’t get the opportunity to be another way and my body can enjoy the hug instead of the rush to get it over. It really is our responsibility to call it out, lovingly so.
A hug lesson – this is so cute, it’s great to acknowledge that the way we touch and hug people, yes is a reflection of how we’ve been with our body, but also it means a great great deal to them, and also gives them permission to approach us with the same tenderness.
Thanks for sharing your hug lesson, I am seeing one of my children later today – maybe a hug lesson will be called for.
Great appreciation for your dad as well. That he did not react to much and was willing to go into this hugging experiment is, specially for men, still a step to take.
Loved your story Reagan! It made me smile big time, just as the photo did with your dad. So great how you opened up the conversation with your dad, and started doing the hugging practice. Obviously the lessons paid off, as the photo shows.
Learning to ‘‘hug in a more heartfelt way’ was something I too had to learn. Arrogantly feeling that hugging was ‘better’ than just greeting someone without any touch, I can really feel the difference when someone hugs me in an abstracted way and when there is heart in it. Of course the same goes for me too. Letting go of the years of protection to truly let people in took some doing – still a work in progress.