Dear Shared Heart Friends-Is it Now Safe to Hug?

Dear Shared Heart Friends,

Is it now safe to hug?

 Would you now prefer to LISTEN to this month’s article read by Joyce? Is It Now Safe to Hug?

First In-Person Retreat in 16 Months! Summer Couples Retreat  June 24-27 (click link to see what we’re doing to make this a safer retreat)

We are excited to offer our free album of sacred songs and chants, our first musical recording. You can download the whole album for free, or listen to it on YouTube. Wait till you hear the exquisite harmonies added by our son, John-Nuri.

Free Album Download
Listen on YouTube

Excerpt from this month’s article: 

“The fear of getting or giving Covid-19 has caused many of us to be scared of one another during the time of the pandemic.

Our latest book:  Heartfullness: 52 Ways to Open to More Love, available only on as a Kindle e-book for only $5.99 (or paperback for $15.95). 

Read what one reviewer says:
“This book is unique among the Vissell’s line of books because there are short 2-3 page inspirational chapters with a theme related to what it is to live from the heart, enjoyable to read in the evening when one wants inspiration. The stories always relate to a personal experience and often are little gems that delight the reader. Read and enjoy this beautiful little Kindle book for wonderful stories from two masters in the Heartfulness movement.” –Caroline Cunningham 

Here’s the link:

Unbelievable Book Sale: To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man (each regular price $15.95) now $15 for both with free shipping; and if you buy both, as a bonus, just $3 each (and free shipping) for as many as you want of the following books: The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk To Be Healed, Rami’s Book, Light in the Mirror, and A Mother’s Final Gift. Please call Paris at 831-684-2130 to order.

Shared Heart Column
Heartfulness      May 2021
with Joyce and Barry Vissell
“Is It Now Safe to Hug?”
In 1970, Barry and I had the amazing opportunity to meet Leo Buscaglia. We were living in Nashville, Tennessee, where Barry was in his second year of medical school and I was a public health nurse. We were both twenty-three years old. A friend invited us to a party to meet a very important person in her life. This person turned out to be Leo Buscaglia. We had never heard of him before.  
Leo was perhaps twenty years older than us. Right away, we could tell there was something very special about this man. The love emanating from him was unlike anything we had ever experienced before. He seemed to know and love each person at the party and also he was hugging them all. We had never before been hugged by anyone other than each other and our parents. Not even our siblings. Believe it or not, in 1970, people in the United States did not hug, except within families. People shook hands in a greeting but never hugged others.
Upon arriving at the gathering Leo came over to us and gave us a big hug in welcome. It was the most beautiful feeling; one we will never forget.
We moved later that year to Los Angeles and I had the privilege of being Leo’s student for one full year at the University of Southern California, and also, we were his neighbors for two years. We got to know him well and his wonderful hugs were plentiful.
Leo left USC several years after he was my teacher, and he went on to write five books on love. He also lectured to very large audiences of over 10,000 on the importance of love and he included how he loves to hug people. Leo’s hugs caught on and, within a few years, the United States became a hugging country. Not all people, but the majority. In 1993, when Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd president of the United States, he hugged people during the dance and party that followed. He was the first president to openly hug people so that it was seen on TV. Then, after that, hugs abounded everywhere. Clinical trials showed that hugs were positive to your physical and mental health, and they even suggested that a person should receive and give at least seven hugs in a day for optimum benefit.  
Then March 2020, the Center for Disease Control recommended that all people everywhere stop hugging, except those that live within your home. People stopped hugging!!!  When a friend would meet a friend at a market and the usual greeting would be a hug, now it was just a hello said through a protective mask staying six feet apart. It was worse than stepping back in time a number of decades.
Now people are getting vaccinated and the CDC is recommending that small groups of vaccinated people can be in a room together without a mask. And just recently, if people are vaccinated, they do not need to wear a mask outdoors. I doubt that the CDC is ever going to recommend that people can hug again. And so, this decision is up to all of us.
I feel that hugging is a good thing and I have chosen to start hugging friends again. I am vaccinated, plus I have had the Covid virus. But, before I hug someone, I ask if it is OK with them. Our hugs are genuine and warm, and still, we are careful to have our heads turned away from each other, just in case.
I have a dear friend who I have known for over forty years. We were also very close to her husband, who died nine years ago. This friend lives by herself and when the pandemic was announced last year, she took the CDC guidelines very seriously and stayed by herself. I brought her flowers every other week and knocked on the door and left them by her doorstep. She did not have a husband to comfort her as I did, and I wanted to do all that I could to comfort her while she was totally alone. Then, when she was vaccinated and I was vaccinated, I set up a time and went to her house. She was nervous to have me there, and she had all of the windows and doors open even though it was very cold outside. I told her we were safe, and it was time to start greeting friends again with a hug. She had not been hugged in fourteen months and, when I went to hug her, I could feel the relief within her body. We hugged several more times during my short stay, and she called me right after to tell me how much the hugs meant to her. She told me that she was going to start hugging her other friends if that was alright with them. She sounded happier than I had heard her all year.  
The fear of getting or giving Covid-19 has caused many of us to be scared of one another during the time of the pandemic. But it is now time, especially if you are fully vaccinated, to reach out to people again and express your love with a warm hug of love and support. And, if your choice is not to get vaccinated, it still may be possible to give and receive hugs. Please follow your heart and common sense. Wearing a mask is always safer. Just be careful to face away from each other and, if you can be outside, even better.
If you feel safe hugging people again, and you get their permission, go ahead and hug, and that act will lift your spirits and theirs, and bring you much-needed mental and physical wellbeing. And if you don’t feel safe hugging, you can still give and receive love through your eyes and words.

 Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are passionate about conscious relationships and personal spiritual growth. They are the authors of 9 books and a new free audio album of sacred songs and chants. Call 831-684-2130 for further information on counseling sessions by phone, online, or in person, their books, recordings, or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their website at for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationships and living from the heart.

 Our schedule at a glance (details below): 

June 24-27: Summer Couples Retreat
November-April:  The Greatest Journey

Quote of the Month:

 “Rather than pretending to be strong and independent, we can find our true strength by freely admitting our human emotional need. The humble person is not afraid of dependence.” – The Shared Heart, p. 24

Please join Joyce and me in holding a vision of a world where women, men, and children of all nations, races, and religions can see and feel the divine in themselves and one another. Here is our current 2021 workshop schedule. Joyce and I would love to see you at one of these events. Please remember how important this spiritual-emotional growth work is. Together let’s take another step on this journey into the heart of love and deeper awareness, where real-world healing begins. Peace be with you all.

June 24-27: Summer Couples Retreat

Would you like your relationship to reach a new level of love, healing, intimacy, and commitment? Couples describe these weekends as a safe and loving place to learn and practice new skills for their relating.

Nov 2021-Apr 2022 

The Greatest Journey  Our 6-month mentorship program for women who want to open to the fullness of life, love and purpose.

Volunteers Needed.

The Shared Heart Foundation needs volunteers. If you would like to support our vision and work, no matter where you live, email

Counseling with the Vissells.

For individuals or couples who need help, you can choose from one hour to a two-day intensive with either one or both of us.
For children, teens, or young adults, our daughter, Rami, can be reached at  

Do you ever shop on

Now you can support The Shared Heart Foundation just by shopping online. Just go to, sign in like you normally do, specify The Shared Heart Foundation (you only have to do this once), and 0.5% of every order supports us. Thank you for this support.
Our love and blessings to you all,
Barry and Joyce Vissell
Please click on for inspiring articles about relationship and consciousness, as well as our updated schedule.


I am a "glass is half full" type of person, so I decided that I would share that with others. After going on 11 years in the blogosphere I decided it was time to make a change and in doing so help uplift others. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and you can visit his site at

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