Earlier this week I had friends in town from Peru. I hadn’t seen them in person for years and they gave me the biggest and longest hug “Hello” I’ve felt in a very long time. I’d forgotten what it felt like to be bear-hugged for more than a couple seconds. I didn’t realize until that moment how much my heart missed that kind of physical affection from friends.
Suddenly my conscious mind was aware of just how much I’d changed my physical engagement habits with others since the pandemic. I grew up in a family of bear-huggers and frequent physical contact. If we’ve ever met in person, you may have noticed that I hug instead of shake hands. Yet, for the past two and a half years, hugs have been infrequent…and if I’m totally honest, I’m holding my breath, turning my head far away from theirs, and the embrace is over in a millisecond. It’s half-hearted (pun intended).
I may be an introvert, but I value deep, heart-felt connections. And this simple, yet impactful, hug from a soul-sister meant a whole lot.
I’ve been hearing from many of my clients about the languish they’re feeling. Some have described it as a total disconnection or hollowness inside. I have a hunch that our lack of physical contact these past few years is a large contributing factor in that.
If you’re not already familiar with the HeartMath Institute, they’re a 501(c)3 dedicated to leading humanity away from the destructive cycles of stress and discord toward a future of lasting peace and harmony. "Since 1991, the HeartMath Institute has developed reliable, scientifically validated tools that help people reduce and avoid stress while experiencing increased peace, satisfaction and self-security. Research at the HeartMath Institute shows that, adding heart to our daily activities and connections produces measurable benefits to our own and others’ well-being." (Source: HeartMath Institute home page)
As a part of their research, they measured that the human heart’s electromagnetic field reaches about a three-foot radius around our bodies.
And for the better part of the past two years, we’ve been asked to maintain a six-foot or larger distance from everyone outside of our household and “friend-pod.” Doing the math, our hearts were no longer able to feel each other.
Most of us are not conscious of our energy boundaries…where ours ends and others begin. For most of our lives, we’ve walked around feeling the hearts of those in our community and may have never even realized we were. From the grocery store to dining in restaurants and the like, we’ve always had some sort of energetic connection to others that made us feel like a part of a whole.
And that abruptly ended. We may have received emotional connection via video-chats with friends and family…but our hearts didn’t physically feel the energy of the collective. It would be like bees with no hive, or a horse with no herd. Is it any wonder folks feel disconnected and hollow?
So what does this mean for you and I?
Well I, for one, plan to hug a lot of people…for an extended period of time. Like a socially-uncomfortable long time. (This is your fair warning!) Because I want to re-awaken the heart-connection and have the kind of impact on others as my friend had on me this week.
The more we can remind each other that we’re part of a community and a collective whole, I believe we have the power to restore our heart-connection to each other...and that can fill the holes we've been feeling.
Haven’t heard or seen from a specific friend in a while? Maybe invite them to coffee or a meal. Let’s start spending time in person with each other and not just virtually. Let’s feel each other’s presence and energy again. Let’s bring things offline and return to face-to-face engagement.
Who’s with me? What ideas do YOU have for helping us return to heart connections?