FREE HUGS IN AUCKLAND & SOME TIPS:
Yesterday Nicole and I went for a bit of a ramble in Auckland.
We hugged hundreds of people outside Britomart and around the lower Queen St area, and I just wanted to share with you a story (or two) from the morning...
One man who did not speak English walked up to me and gestured that he wanted to know what we were doing. I demonstrated from my heart to his and a sign of peace. His eyes went wide and he stepped into my hug and remained there for a few moments. We hug with our hearts, real and strong. No patting on the back, no rigidity, a big beautiful hug. He drew back from me with big tears in his eyes and then overcome, he hugged me again. He bowed as he left.
I had to take a few moments to process the tears. Bless him, if he was the only person I hugged all day it would have been so worth it.
One guy was on the way to his first day of his new job.
Monday morning hugs are non toxic, alcohol free, no calorie, uplifting, heartwarming and I am quite sure they go a long way toward curing Mondayitis.
I recommend you find a friend you trust and who gives GOOD hugs and take him or her along for a couple of hours.
People will ask you why you are doing it. If it helps - this is what I say - I tell them that it's because we need touch and connection now more than ever in our world and because people are AWESOME.
Nicole and I also met some hilarious Hug Avoiders. I will save that story for another day.
There are a few things that are useful to know when doing Hugs in your community.
1. NEVER hug a child that is pushed towards you. Children's boundaries are SO important and we always honour them. Parents who are a little nervous sometimes push their kids forward. It's important not to curb their natural instinct to keep themselves safe. If it feels right, give them a high five instead. Now and then, a child will openly come and say "Yes I would like a hug." Those ones are just fine.
2. Banter is good - gentle, non invasive, lightheartedness. No bullying anyone into a hug, personal zones MUST be respected.
(3. This should be fairly obvious, but I've seen otherwise, so no touching below the waist.)
4. If you can hug in the open air with plenty of space around you and enough time for people to deal with their risk or resistance - the 'shall I or shan't I?' you are more likely to get a yes. Include everyone in your offering.
5. You'll get loads of No's. Deal with it gracefully and instantly. (If this is a problem go straight home. The streets are ok without you.) The No's are not about you. At no time make fun of anyone - this should also be obvious - but you are being a role model for people around you. Some people you are sure will decline you, will surprise you and say yes.
6. Some people will think you are nuts. You are. It's great.
7. Some people haven't been hugged for years. Once someone told me she had not been hugged for 10 years. That's why we need touch. Of course I hugged her twice.
8. Some of the people you will hug have been hanging by a thread. Your hug is their lifeline. Don't underestimate it. Love each person you hug, big golden, sunshiny love is good for all of us.
9. Hugging is not a business opportunity. Over time I've hugged thousands of people and have given out very few cards. Sometimes I take them with me if people want to friend me on Facebook or get more hug pictures. If you are really hugging - you are holding a moment of time, not having a conversation. It's not networking - it's HEARTWORKING.
10. Too many people giving out hugs can be quite scary - three is plenty - so split up or spread out.
11. Keep your arms out wide and SMILE. Pack away all handbags and extras so you are totally able to be present and play!!
12. Be prepared to have your heart melted.
International Peace Day is on September the 21st. Want to make the world a better place?
Grab a friend or get a group together and go DO HUGS FOR PEACE.
Past hugging days: There are more tips and a couple more stories here: http://www.debx.co.nz/blog/10-top-tips-for-free-huggers
Be the change you wish to see.
You can follow me (or friend me) on Facebook here
The decision people make, to enter into a hug with a stranger, is a decision to allow themselves to be held. Participation is made easier by the fact they will probably never see us again.
How do we hug? How often do we hug? We've nearly all been 'duty huggers' right?
Hands up if you haven't - but I bet there aren't too many hands up.
The top tip? Take a sign, or wear a Hugs for Peace or Free Hugs tee-shirt. It's just easier. Unless there is a really large crowd, 2 or 3 huggers are all you need.
1. Relax, breathe and don't do it if you're feeling grumpy because your hugs will suck.
2. You MUST let people have time to see you, weigh up the risk and decide that it works for them. You are helping them to walk through a comfort zone gap.
3. Honour comfort zones (don't walk along heckling them, that's not a Free Hug ) let them bring the zone to you.
You can quite often ‘sell' a hug to someone that is a little unsure with a great big smile, open arms and a "hey - it’s just non-alcoholic, calorie free goodness.” You can give a gentle second chance and say "are you sure?" to them if they smile and laugh when they say no.
4. A firm 'No', means no. Hugging anyone that doesn’t want a hug is counter productive and flips all your good energy over.
5. Hug the people who say YES. If they don't want a hug - they are not rejecting you - they are coming up against a wall of their own stuff. Your open heart may be the most threatening thing they have seen for days. But you might inspire them. And quite often people change their minds.
6. Some people will think you are nuts and go away growling. Let that roll off super fast - they are not your audience.
7. Some people will be a bit scared to hug you, but they will laugh and POW! the good vibes will have got them - just like that!
8. Be prepared for surprise huggers. Now and then people will jump into a hug. Some people will get out of their cars and run across the road to get to you for a hug. - Please DON'T go Hugging if you have a sore back.
9. A really healing hug lasts for moments longer than a 'see you later' hug - walls come down and people realise that there really are other people out there who care. It can be a deeply profound experience - wrapped in one magical moment of connection.
10. No Free Hug hug includes touching below the belly or on the butt! The only way is up Baby. Creepy - is creepy.
Smile from the tips of your toes to the top of your field. Arms out, fill your heart with love and greet that person with a full illumination of your energy field, seeing the light in them, regardless of whether they might believe it's present or not. You see them - as the beautiful soul they are.
That illumination brings deep clearing on so many levels. Let them go and bless them. Have fun.
You'll meet all sorts. I've hugged thousands of people and I can tell you, there are plenty of different huggers out there.
The rigid 'three pats on the back' hugger will probably pass you by - but the open arms 'come to Mama' hugger will say yes.
The 'surreptitious pelvis presser' hugger may have a go - yes it's yucky - no it doesn't happen often.
There is the 'I'll hug if you hug, but don't get carried away' hugger, those ones are generally doing it for points because their friends did.
The 'duty' hugger makes me a bit squeamish - Mothers often direct their kids to hug when the kids are not comfortable, we ALWAYS say to people who do this "no way - we respect boundaries and honour feelings - if you don't want to hug, don't hug."
The icing on your cake is the 'I love the world and everyone in it' hugger. (These ones are AWESOME.)
Your marriage proposals will come from the 'I haven't hugged a woman for years, would you come home and cook my dinner?' hugger. (These may also come with a quick pat near/on the bottom, but as they are mostly elderly men - I have not yet bopped one on the nose.)
Travellers are amazing, and so open to hugs, and there are a huge amount of people who just need a hug because nobody gives to them without expecting something. Ever. (These ones are often Mums.)
A Free Hug is just that - Free. If someone opens their arms to you and allows you to hug them, treat them as if they are offering you a most precious gift, because they are. An open heart is pure treasure.
It's not a PR exercise. You are giving - if you're really doing this properly, the Spirit of Free Hugs will stop you from speaking about your work unless you are directly asked by another person. Then it’s fine to talk about it and if they are genuinely resonant with it, let it grow organically into connection. Though I've hugged thousands of people, I've probably handed out only 6 or so business cards. This is not because I'm 'doing it wrong.'
Massive bonus: Many people will answer your free hug with a real hug of their own and give equally.
Most humbling and also very thought provoking: Some people will tell you they have not been hugged for years.
In this digital age we are embracing cyber space and losing touch with each other. We are more connected, and somehow, some of us are more alone then we have ever been. We just need to open our arms more.
In time I have hugged thousands of people. When I first started, I had to get a permit from the local council to do it.
I find it funny that I am, technically speaking - a licensed Free Hugger.
There have been so many highlights, but possibly the most poignant, were the elderly lady who initially said no, then said yes and had a really big hug, then told me she had not been hugged for ten years since her husband died… you read right - that's 10 years. How does that happen?
And the 12 or 13 year old boy who could not believe anyone would want to hug him (his Mum didn't want to - she didn't want him), he had a couple of hugs, then swapped shirts with his friends in an effort to go 'undercover' so he could come back and get more. We told him he could have as many as he liked.
Hugs can help throw people a lifeline when they've been hanging by a thread.
I hope you are inspired to share more, even if they are just at home.
And it's Mothers Day this weekend here in New Zealand - so you know where to start, don't you?
Andorra is a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountain range between France and Spain.
It is a popular ski resort, with just 20,000 inhabitants.
It's loaded with breathtakingly beautiful scenery, very clear water - breathtakingly freezing cold for a traveller to wash her hair with, I might add - but it held something else magical that had me spellbound - a surprising and heart warming demonstration of community.
I stayed only for a very quiet night in an alpine hut, ultimately sleeping 'fairly rough' on an airbed that had absolutely no commitment to staying inflated. It may just be me, but if I'm on one, I can't go to sleep until the whole thing has deflated and my body parts are making full contact with the floor. None of this half floating round stuff for me.
In Andorra, I experienced strangers wishing others well.
As my fellow travellers and I were wandering into the main town on foot, there was a huge tooting, and beeping of car horns coming from behind us. Coming from New Zealand this might signal some major calamity, so startled, we all turned around...
to see a wedding car, and many cars following with ribbons on their aerials - all of them were tooting and honking their horns, and as they got right into the heart of the traffic, all the other traffic around honked and tooted too. All the people waved and shouted hooray, and the joyous cacophony heralded the procession through town and out the other side, bouncing off the mountains and echoing until peace prevailed.
It was utterly magical witnessing a community celebrating the love of two people they may never know. I banked that magic inside myself, savoured and remembered it, and many times when I've seen a bride since, I've tooted and/or waved, and my heart smiles remembering Andorra.
Sharing joy, celebrating and adding our blessings to other peoples blessings is something we are often shy to do, but it's such a beautiful way to join in community with others. It's so uplifting once we allow ourselves to be open to it, it makes the world much smaller and more intimate and gives us a deeper experience of life.
Do you have a tradition like this?