Free Friday hugs….
“I’ll take part” – I shouted enthusiastically, “count me in”. It was a gloomy rainy day, and I spent most of the day looking out of the window hoping the event will be cancelled…it wasn’t.
So off I went, left work early telling my boss and colleagues that I was going to give free hugs to strangers – they all looked horrified and asked why? I smiled and explained the ‘theory’ behind the concept , adding it will be fun, I’ll step out of my comfort zone…
As I approached the rendezvous café a sudden rush of panic and anxiety came over me, what am I doing? I approached the café and discovered that there were only 3 huggers?? Again my heart began pounding anxiously – Majella’s plan was to cover different corners of Carnaby Street – no I shouted (well in my head anyway) let’s stick together, safety in numbers and all that. Is it too late to back out now – I wondered?
The group walk down Carnaby Street, found the perfect spot and out come the signs and up goes the banner. AT this point 45 minutes of hugging seems like an eternity…
Tentatively I hold up my ‘free hugs’ sign, first low down, so now one can see it. Then, at some point feeling more confident I raised it above my head. Holding it high and proud.
I’m not sure when the turning point was, perhaps after my first hug, but something changed and I was so happy and proud to be doing what we were doing. I began shouting ‘free hugs..come and get a free hug…’ and ‘anyone need a hug?’ ‘It will make you feel better’.
Wow what had got into me – all the anxious and nervous feelings from 15/20 minutes ago had disappeared. I was loving it. I had the hugest smile on my face. I was totally buzzing from the whole experience. I really wasn’t expecting the reactions we got. Most people willingly came up, arms wide open, for a hug, this totally blew me away. And the kindness and gratitude was heart-warming “thank you, I really need that” or “that was great, I really feel better now – thanks”.
I always knew that hugging released a lot of serotonin and oxytocin – the feel good and bonding hormones, and last Friday’s event proved it. Now, I’m not sure if it was the adrenalin, the random act of kindness or the benefits of hugging, but I sure did feel good. And proved to me that people of all ages, cultures and ethnicities and from all over the world love to be hugged.
So the very next day, after dinner at my brothers, I made him and my male cousin give me a proper hug!
Bring on the hugs…Can’t wait for the next free hugging event.
Amandeep is member of the Guerrilla Hugs Board, she is now an experienced oxytocin promoter and advocate of increasing well being for everyone!