FREE HUGS IN AUCKLAND & SOME TIPS:
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.
Read more here.
Top tips for Free Huggers: 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.
Read more here
HOW I STARTED: My cousin John started me off with Free Hugs - and I'll be forever grateful.
He told me a story about a pilgrimage he did to the USA in the seventies, where he met a man called The HugMaster. The HugMaster just travelled around all over the place hugging people.
I lived in South Auckland at the time and knew that plenty of people not only needed hugs, but needed to know that they could be loved unconditionally by a stranger.
In time I have hugged thousands of people. I convinced a friend to join me and had to get a permit from the local council to do it. I am, technically speaking - a licensed Free Hugger.
Later I learned there was a Free Hugs movement in Australia - I loved the video and the story.
There have been so many highlights, but two of 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?
The other, was a 12 or 13 year old boy who could not believe anyone would want to hug him (his Mum didn't want to), 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.
I've hugged people in wheelchairs who thought I might ignore them and only hug their standing friends, blind people, street people, Mums, Dads, kids, the Mayor of a town who said no the first time I asked him, (then used my photo in his promotion for a friendly community) - and guess what - he hugged me next time he saw me.
During the World Cup Rugby in 2011, I took a group of gorgeous ladies and personally hugged about 600 people in an afternoon (from more than 15 countries). Collectively we hugged thousands.
Everyone loved it - yet we were thrown out of the World Cup Village for hugging.
We asked if we could walk around and look at the exhibits if we just stopped hugging - people were walking up to us and asking for hugs - but we were told we would have to take off our t-shirts to do so!
We left and shared the hugs elsewhere.
But the guy who was ordered to kick us out... said yes to a hug from me before we left!
World Peace Day September 21st 2011.
Auckland, New Zealand
Suzi, Renee, Me, Mel and Marike giving thanks to the very friendly, but quite lippy cameraman - who was not asking us to say cheese - he was telling us that South Africa were going to win the cup and wipe the floor with the All Blacks.
Hence our HUGE smiles. A GREAT day!!!
Where can you get a hug from me? - I do regular Free Hugs in Auckland City, usually in front of the Britomart Train Station.
World Peace Day Sept 21 2012