The ‘Apapacho’: A Caress from the Soul to Create Emotional Intimacy

· December 20, 2016
A caress from the soul can make you feel full, complete and connected with the people who give you those great big hugs and help put you back together inside.

Apapacho is one of the most beautiful words in existence because of the connotation it has earned over the years. The word “apapacho” is of Nahuatl origin, but this sentimental and emotional word has made its way into the Spanish language over the years.

The original word refers to the act of kneading, massaging or gently rubbing.

Over time, it gained the meaning it has today: to caress from the soul with pure emotion.

A butterfly sitting on the arm of a woman

The emotional exchange involved in an apapacho

An apapacho is more than a hug. It’s a complex emotional connection.

The emotional openness we’re talking about cannot be achieved with just anyone because it takes time, effort and the desire to listen, feel, embrace and caress with the soul.

In this sense, it’s not surprising that a good apapacho starts with oneself. Listening, connecting and understanding our emotional baggage requires self reflection of our fears, conflicts, insecurities, achievements and wisdom.

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Only when we can see and feel the “armor we wear” can we truly bare this part of ourselves. This only happens when the time is right.

Self-awareness of our emotional vulnerabilities won’t make them go away. But having a deeper connection with them means that each time they surface in our lives, we can identify and act on them. This will keep them from ruining our emotional connections.

Two little girls doing the apapacho on a beach

Wholeness through emotion

True attraction doesn’t need words or skin-to-skin contact. We need our emotions and feelings to speak the language of hugs from the heart.

We are emotional beings that think with the language of emotions, as it’s only through this that we can experience truly authentic connections.

Problems disappear in seconds, something reconnects inside and the despair melts away as we connect with something beyond time and space. In other words, an “apapacho” works as a healing balm.

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A woman embracing her partner

Feeling loved, one of the best feelings in the world

Knowing that you are loved is one of the best feelings you can experience. It’s comforting, energizing and healing.

Knowing that someone truly appreciates you is amazing. Love always helps us regain the balance we crave during hard times.

We could say that love acts as a life jacket, something to keep you above the surface so you can breathe. You could even say that our bonds are, without a doubt, the psychological oxygen we need to breathe.

The definition of love

A beautiful definition of this concept is found in a passage of Paul Auster‘s novel, The Moon Palace. In it, he perfectly defines what we feel when the love of others rescues us from the depths of the well in which we’ve fallen and cannot escape. This is an extract of the passage:

“At that time, I was ignorant. But knowing what I know now, I cannot think back to those days without feeling a wave of nostalgia for my friends. In a certain sense, this alters the reality of what I experienced.

I had jumped off a cliff and just as I was about to hit the bottom, something extraordinary happened: I learned there were people who loved me. Knowing that you are loved changes everything.

It doesn’t make the jump any less scary, but it will give you a new perspective of what this fear means. I had jumped from the edge, and then at the last minute, in mid-air, something caught me. And that something is what I call love.

It is the only thing that can stop a man from hitting the ground. It’s the only thing powerful enough to defy the laws of gravity.”

A couple practicing the apapacho

Using apapachos for our emotional growth

You could say that the people we are emotionally tied to help us take control of our lives and manage our feelings, thoughts and emotions.

As we noted above, we must be present to this special type of emotional openness which can only be achieved through insight and honesty.

It’s essential to caress and nourish the soul within to allow emotional and social growth to flourish.

In this way, we can break through our fears and remind ourselves of the warmth of home through apapachos.

This intimate and emotional exchange deserves a word as beautiful as “apapacho.”

  • Castro, G. “La psicología positiva.” Revista de Psicología, UCV 10.1 (2008): 150-153.
  • Frazier, E. “Préstamos del náhuatl al español mexicano.” Hesperia: Anuario de filología hispánica 9 (2006): 75-86.
  • Sales, Pau. Psicologia y psiquiatria transcultural. Desclée de Brouwer, 2013.