What if someone said to you "I know a sure-fire way to create human solidarity and promote world peace - will you join me?" You wouldn't claim to be washing your hair that day would you? Of course not! Which is exactly why I found myself on the precinct of Lewes High Street last Saturday 'free hugging' with Hugmeister Amanda Jane and the Free Hugs Crew.
Last Thursday was National Hugging Day a day dedicated to hugging people more often falling on 21st January each year. The day was created by Kevin Zaborney, and first celebrated in Michigan in 1986. Since then it's spread further and is also celebrated here in the UK, where the positive effects of a hug on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing are well-known. From lowering blood pressure, and reducing stress to decreasing feelings of loneliness, a hug can work wonders!
So it was, that, thinking about the free-flowing around the body of all those feelgood hormones, Loose Debra joined the Hugathon team in the county town of East Sussex on Saturday. I raised my game by wearing my furry faux fur jacket from Top Shop :-)
Organiser, Amanda Jane told us she wanted to "spread the benefits of hugging for health and well-being" by offering free hugs to passers-by in the busy Saturday morning high street precinct. Hug Diva (and healing Blogger) Claudia Burnett said she was "looking forward to sharing many hugs and also maybe some of her hug secrets and tips", wisely adding, "but only if asked!!". Magnus Agugu, healer, masseur, accomplished 'free hugger' and at 6' 8" definitely the tallest member of the team, said, "most people do not realise that touch is a form of medicine".
To be honest, I've long believed that if we strip away the layers we are all connected as human beings and mutually interdependent, so I was very happy to hug a stranger. After all hugging a stranger means I'm prepared to make a rather intimate connection with a person I don't know on the basis that we are both human beings. In so doing, though slightly scared maybe, I'm demonstrating a faith in humanity and respect for everyone's innate ability to cooexist. At this moment in history with all the various threats facing our lives through war and terrorism, human solidarity is what's needed. And after all I'm supposed to be a Chief Freedom Fighter, aren't I?
So, with all this motivation, and the endorsement that actor Keanu Reeves had liked Amanda's Hugging Facebook Page, we all met up for an hour's hugging at 12 noon on a thankfully dry Saturday.
Some people wrote wonderful comments about their hug: "It was like a nice warm bath", "It's like coming back down to earth", "I felt loved and calm", and we had a lot of fun.
If you would like to start a Hugathon in your locality do let us know and we can put you in touch with Amanda (who will no doubt advise on the careful placement of a Free Hugs placard). Spread the love...
Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter