HUGGING UNTIL RELAXED  
Experiencing the present moment in the comfort of each other arms

We all know how to hug - but something different happens when we take the time with our loved one to slow down, open our hearts and enter the arms of our loved one for a long embrace; each one of us steady on our own two feet, feeling strong in ourselves but ready to help steady the other when they need our support.  

This brilliant exercise created by Dr. David Schnarch can be magic. The regular practice of this special kind of hug provides a way back to acceptance, forgiveness and profound closeness. The more you practice this, the easier it gets. 

Instructions:
Do your best to stay with this exercise for at least two minutes.  

Each of you may stop this exercise at any time. To stop, just step back out of the embrace. You haven’t failed. You are honoring your own limits. Each time you do this exercise, chances are it will feel at bit easier. 

Lots of emotions about your partner, your relationship and yourself may occur during this exercise. Tears may flow. Loving feelings may well up. Allow room for emotions to come up to the surface. Every emotion you experience has a purpose. Relax into these emotions and feel what it is like to relax while in the embrace of your partner.

What to do:

Step 1 –Stand facing your partner, allowing a few feet between you. Take a few seconds to find your balance, relax your knees. 

Step 2 – Focus on breathing in slowly and breathing out even more slowly. Don’t rush. When you are ready, slowly step towards each other while staying steady and balanced. 

Step 3 – Get close enough to each other that you can comfortably put your arms around each other without becoming unbalanced. Imagine that if your partner became wobbly, you could stay balanced and grounded. Take a moment to settle into a familiar and natural embrace with each other. Shift your stance and adjust your arms until it feels comfortable. You may giggle, or feel twitchy, awkward or maybe a little scared - those are natural responses. Just move your attention back to finding a comfortable position in each other’s arms.  

Step 4 - Now, allow yourself to relax into the hug. Focus on relaxing your body. Drop your shoulders a bit. If your knees seem locked, soften them. If your partner feels stiff, just move your focus back to your own relaxation. This won’t be easy at first. You are each are doing your best you can. 

Step 5 - Notice any internal resistance, nervousness, embarrassment, fear or even arousal. Don’t judge these thoughts and feeling, just notice them. Try your best to not give in to them. Return to your breath. 

Step 6 - Slowly, become aware of what your five senses are experiencing. Take a moment. Take in the familiar scent of your partner. Take time to savor their scent that you know so well. What does their skin or hair feel like against yours? Move your awareness to their breathing pattern. Without talking, can you synchronize your breathing? Tune in to their heartbeat and feel yours as well. Now, shift to the sensations within your own body. What are you experiencing, what changes are you noticing? Just let the world fall away. You don’t have to be anywhere but right here, in this very moment. 

Step 7 – You both agree to stop whenever you or your partner pulls away. 

Step 8 - Find a spot to sit with each other and take about 5 minutes to share with your partner what you noticed about your experience and share what resistance you might have noticed. Share any familiar memories that came up. Share any warm and loving feelings too. No matter the length of the exercise, thank your partner for trusting you enough to do this exercise with you.

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Could you make a commitment with each other to do this exercise at least twice a week for a month? Be open to what happens? Perhaps this hug could be your morning goodbye or an evening ritual to connect after a long day at work? You can you support each other in making time for quiet and deep connection?

Adapted from Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, by David Schnarch, 1997 p. 160-164
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An Exercise for Couples 
We are a touch starved society. Moreover, our busy lives often take precedence over creating meaningful moments, such as finding ways to connect with each other. Sex and orgasm are the icing on the cake, yet connecting is what makes great sex better. I suggest that you regularly find a moment to slow down, focus in on our partner(s) and discover each other again. This is an every day exercise that could change your relationship. Can you find 5 min in your day to turn to your partner and say "Can we hug?"
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 Anna Randall, DHS, LCSW, MPH
CA Lic #70711

 Anna Randall, MSW, DHS, MPH  l   650-888-9640  l  info@drannarandall.com