Recreating the Healing Power of Touch Without a “Hug Shirt”

I was talking on the phone to an old friend and remembered longingly how we used to share healing touch with each other through mutual massage.  I had also learned an added healing technique which accessed the acupuncture meridians.  This treatment was called Jin Shin Do.  I coupled this with meditation and affirmations for wellness.  When my friend’s husband died prematurely, I volunteered one year of treatments for her as I was learning to use these healing methods coupled with my more traditional training in Transpersonal Psychology and Clinical Social Work.  She returned successfully to her work as a masseuse, choreographer and pianist.  We have continued our friendship over twenty plus years.  Now that we live in different parts of the country, we both regret the inability to share our “healing hands” work with each other along with just the warm hugs of mutual friends.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken away plenty in our lives, and one big missing is the healing power of touch.  When I watch the ad about the Hug Project where two brothers who are continents apart and virtually reconnect physically with the “Hug Shirt,” I think of how much I miss closeness with my friend and with my family members who are all miles away.  I wish that I had a Hug Shirt to feel this physical closeness again with those I love.

How has the limitation of touch during the pandemic changed your life?  How can you begin to bring the power of touch back into your life without buying a Hug Shirt or needing to be in close proximity with someone?

  1. Use your imagination. Notice how close you can get to repeating a physical feeling if you can recreate the experience in the mind.  Think of the colors, shapes, sounds, smells, and touch that go with the situation you’d like to repeat.  Create the dream without the machine and notice how close you can get to actually being there.
  2. Contact the person that you miss and share your deep feeling of caring and loss. You may discover that the feeling is shared and is lessened just by the verbal sharing of your caring.  It’s another way of building your own Hug Shirt.
  3. Tap into other senses beyond Touch. Remind yourself that the Hug Shirt singles out only one of the major senses. When you contact the person you are missing, you are stimulating senses with Sound and Sight if you use Zoom or Facetime. In your imagination, you can recreate Taste, and Touch
  4. Share your desire for connectedness a positive outcome. Perhaps this is a family member that you haven’t stayed in touch with as you would have liked.  Perhaps you miss an old friend or co-worker that you shared your problem-solving chats with.  Realize that the potential is still there in every way except maybe physical touch at this time.  You still have Sound by phone, Sight by Zoom/Facetime, and the power of your memory that reinforces your expectation of a healing and comforting outcome.

I called my friend and shared how much I missed our time together and asked that we plan time to meet in person when the pandemic is over and we both feel that it is safe to travel.  In the meantime, I asked her to agree to continue to meet by phone, on Zoom, and in writing, by text or letter to keep our relationship vital and available.  I recognized how much I had taken for granted that she would always be there and available whenever I wanted to connect with her.  With others in my life who are also cared about yet physically unavailable, I have become more aware of drifting apart.  This difficult time of forced separation makes it necessary to seek out conscious planning for action that creates contact.

We don’t connect with some people now unless we plan to be together, because we don’t share an office anymore or bump into each other in the parking lot, at church, or in a nearby restaurant.  Now, we must make time and consciously arrange to meet.  Do it now.  Otherwise, you will end up needing to invest in a Hug Shirt, but you risk being too late for a relationship that drifted too far apart or an employee who felt isolated and left the company. Create that feeling of connectedness with someone today.


Sylvia B. Lane