What I learned from my very first hug

“The first time I learned hugging was in Atlanta in 1966. A woman poet took me to the airport and then, before saying goodbye, asked, ‘Is it all right to hug a Buddhist monk?’

“In my country, we are not used to expressing ourselves that way in public, but I thought, ‘I am a Zen teacher; it should be no problem for me to hug her.’ So I said, “Why not?” and she hugged me; but I was rather stiff. While on the plane, I decided that if I wanted to work with friends in the West, I would have to learn the culture of the West. That is why I invented hugging meditation.

“Hugging meditation is a combination of East and West. It’s like tea bags. Tea comes from Asia, where we harvest and steep the tea carefully. When tea came to the West, people made tea bags, which are quick and practical.
–Thich Nhat Hanh, from his new book “AT HOME IN THE WORLD: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life,” pre-order on this page.