We humans go through life, accumulating bits and pieces of knowledge that we put into our backpacks and continue along our merry (and sometimes not so merry) way. Today’s guest, Dr. Stone, wanted something more. Something better. He gathered insights and put them to the test and forged a life changing concept – Hug Therapy.
By training, Dr. Stone is a clinical psychologist and for years practiced college counseling. His doctoral degree was from the University of Denver, his internship at Santa Barbara, and his postdoctoral was at Yale. After ten years of working in this niche he began to feel that something was missing.
This led to a personal journey of growth and discovery to see where change was needed and how to implement that change.
“One day while touring in the Frank Lloyd Wright museum in a group of strangers, I felt that a specific member of the group needed a hug. I didn’t understand this feeling and was confused by it.”
“I didn’t know this guy at all. I struggled with the feeling and at the end of the tour I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, I’m Stone. Would you like a hug?’ He hesitated for a beat and then said, ‘Sure.’ We hugged or 2-3 seconds, like with a good friend you haven’t seen for a while. We both left smiling.”
“I was profoundly changed. I said to myself, ‘Wow! I can have a hug with a stranger!’
It had nothing to do with a physical attraction. It was the emotional charge. It stayed with me for a few weeks.”
“The next time I had the feeling was at a pool in Wyoming. I was talking to a guy, his daughter was playing with my daughter, and again I think, ‘Maybe I have to give this guy a hug.’ But, I didn’t. We just said goodbye. The next morning I went for a jog and I meet the guy by the creek. We talked for 10-15 minutes about being divorced. Mine was amicable and his was really rough. After that we hugged for 10-15 seconds and it was really powerful – we had connected.”
“I start jogging away, and I hear this booming voice say, ‘You will write a book called, ‘Hugging Strangers.’ A tiny voice in my head answered, ‘Okay.’ From that moment, I see everything through the lense of a hug. It does not need to be a physical hug – it can be a virtual hug. Anything that occurs, I examine and ask, “Is that a hug or not?’ “
“There is the concept of a self-hug. If I open the door for someone because I believe that is the right thing to do, whether the person acknowledges the act or not, I am happy with myself. It isn’t dependent on the other person’s reaction to me.”
“A great need exists for the work of psychologists and psychiatrists; but there is a greater need for an additional tool. Many veterans, twenty a day, are commiting suicide. That’s why, Matana, programs like yours, are so beautiful. It’s a hug. Hugging powers, it activates superpowers. There are so many people who are suffering and this hugging can bring us together.”
“That is the purpose of writing my book, Hugging Strangers which now is called, Hugging Therapy – 21 Day Hugging Journey. The idea is to keep track for 21 days, hugging yourself and others. Being aware and having gratitude in the moment of the hug.”
“Dr. Hug, when I was suffering from my panic attacks and depression, if a person I knew and trusted hugged me, held me in my pain, it brought down the anxiety a great deal. I would say, ‘Tell me it’s going to be okay.’ What is it about the physical touch that affects the anxiety?”
“Matana, research indicates it is very healthy. A 20 second hug will release oxytocin. It’s good for your stress response, your immune system, your sleep patterns, your blood pressure. The hug is very existential; it brings us into the moment.”
“My husband, Ari, every morning, comes home after prayer, and says, ’Where’s my hug?’ and I’m getting the kids out, making sandwiches and I tell him, ‘I’ve got to get the kids out.’ He will take the butter knife out of my hand and hug a long hug.. He will breathe through it, really being in the moment. I’m not experiencing it; I’m with my to do list. As much as I think I do accept myself, I’m missing out on something so core here.”
“I listened to a previous podcast where you remarked that you say a prayer every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep. Those are hugs. Live your day as if it’s your last day. Nurturing yourself, so that you can nurture others.”
“When someone goes on the 21 day hugging journey as discussed in my book, Hug Therapy, one has an accountability buddy. It is ultra important to keep each other accountable. Even if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, but pick up the next day, and go forward. Notice what got in the way, and continue from there.”
“It takes 21 days to create a habit. 21 days in which one practices reaching out to oneself or others. Hugs are like vitamins for the soul. It’s an ongoing process. Finding love and connection in the universe to deal with depression. Isolation and hopelessness are very strong when one is depressed. With the 21 day journey someone is checking in on you and supporting you. They can make sure you are taking your medication. They can call for help if they think it is needed.”
“If someone you love is suffering from a mental illness – bi-polar, schizophrenia, or the like – and they can’t get enough hugging, and their partner feels they just can’t give as much as they want, it is alright to say when they have reached their limit, ‘I love you very much and that’s as much as I can give right now.’ It is important to communicate both your love and your boundaries.”
“Dr. Hug, I just thought of something, Most of my children have sensory issues. When my oldest was diagnosed with it, I was told to hold him tight for a long time.
Maybe the hug releases something that helps them deal with the sensory problem.”
“I didn’t do research, but it does sound like a strong connection.”
“A veteran that I know went on a 21 day journey and it made a profound change in his life. He had been giving up on life and after the journey he was able to give to others and connect with them. In our core, in our essence we should remember we want good things for our fellow man.”
“Hope to me means creating new possibilities. Whether it is fostering new blooms in your flowers by talking to them or connecting with new groups. It’s that aliveness – pushing ourselves to reach out so that we aren’t alone. It’s about connection. It’s breathing life into your day.”
“My book, Hug Therapy, has just been released. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, Apple Store, and independent bookstores. I can be reached via my website, www.TheHugDoctor.com.”
I am so grateful to Dr. Stone for bringing us a new tool to help deal with isolation, depression and bringing our lives up a notch to really live a fuller, happier existence.
To all our listeners, I am grateful to you, Every time you tune in I am getting a hug. you for your feedback, ideas and comments. It is all an ongoing immense hug. I hope you feel my appreciation and the happiness it brings me. I am awaiting your stories and experiences with hugging – yourself and others.
Today’s episode is sponsored by https://Betterhelp.com/hopetorecharge
Betterhelp.com is the world’s leading provider of online therapy. Their mission is to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, and convenient, so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere.
Head to – https://Betterhelp.com/hopetorecharge for 10% off your first month of services. IMPORTANT: Be sure to click this link in order to get the 10% off code