A few decades ago, one of the psychoanalysts who still took spirituality seriously, Carl Gustav Jung, said the phrase:
“Know all the theories. Master all the techniques. But when you touch a human soul, it’s just another human soul.”
Since Jung’s death, the concept of soul has been discarded by most psychologists and psychoanalysts as something necessary to treat and study the human mind. However, beyond psychology there are some ideas deeply rooted in popular culture which, being related to spirituality rather than to scientific experiments and studies, offer proposals on how we can approach human relationships, affection and, in general, well-being.
In Latin America, specifically, there is an ancient word, of Amerindian origin, that serves to describe an action, but also a lifestyle that many people have adopted. This word is apapachar , which means something like “to embrace with the soul”.
An apapacho is much more than a hug
The word “apapachar” was originally born as part of the Nahuatl language, a language more than a thousand years old, although at first it was somewhat different and its pronunciation was more like “papatzoa”. Today the term apapachar is used in countries like Mexico and Colombia to mean “to give affection” , but it is also often read in a much deeper and spiritual way.
In this way, an apapacho can be a hug, but also any action with which it can be interpreted that a soul is undressing before another to give it affection or a very intimate type of support, not necessarily related to the sexual. Apapachar is thus transformed into the concept of caressing with one’s own spirit, offering a sign of love that depends neither on the physical limitations that can keep two or more people apart nor on the conventions about how affection should be expressed.
Long before the culture of the spectacle in which the image is everything was born, in Latin America already existed the idea that the samples of love cannot be totally constrained by the social norms. That’s why apapachar came to mean an affective exchange that flees from labels and goes beyond the realization of a simple hug.
Everything is born with the caresses
Interestingly, in an apapachar origin it could be translated as “to knead with love” a definition that has to do with a physical task. However, from this concept emerged the idea of apapacho as a caress made with the soul, something totally subjective, interpretable and, especially, intimate. But the relationship between spiritual caresses and the action of kneading is not mere coincidence .
Today we know that in our closest animal relatives, such as the great primates, almost all the emotional charge that has to do with the transmission of affection is captured in caresses, hugs and, in general, actions that have to do with touch. Most primates rarely look each other in the eye, even in mother-child relationships. That is why we know that it is very likely that the affective language of our ancestors has been, for hundreds of thousands of years, the hug, the kiss, the caress .
But if we look beyond these actions, we will see that what is expressed in them is the willingness to show ourselves as we are and to give the opportunity that another person can also do the same freely, without fear of being judged. The word apapachar captures this idea so that we can apply it in our daily lives and not lose sight of how important it is to free ourselves from unfounded insecurities, not to miss the opportunity to establish personal relationships based on authenticity, and to enjoy the affection of people who love us without having the banalities of everyday life keep us apart.
Apapachar is a vital principle
Of course, the term apapachar does not give us new knowledge about how we function, relate or feel. It’s been around since long before both psychology and neuroscience appeared, and it has nothing to do with groundbreaking scientific discoveries that are going to make headlines. Therein lies its value. As with the concept of Hoponopono, it is part of an almost timeless idea, which has been with us forever : it is not worth any excuse not to get emotionally naked with the people we really care about.
Apapachar is, in short, an idea so simple that nowadays it is transgressive . This is why it is so appreciated by those people who love the power of honest simplicity and naturalness over the artificial. Long live the apapachos!