16 October 2008

Free Hugs - Rio de Janeiro

I organised a Free Hugs event for last Thursday in Rio de Janeiro. It was very short notice, and together with being on a weekday - and being a gringo organising an event in their home town - there weren't too many locals that were overly enthusiastic to join - actually none. Though there was one Brazilian girl from Belem who brought her beautiful energy a little while later.

For the first 45 minutes I was the only person hugging - 2 other people came but only watched. I still continued hugging, but it was slow. People were not very trusting, but I could see many people smiling as they walked past, which is still enough - this is still a success. Even if one happy thought enters someone's mind and they feel a little uplifted, and their psychology - and hence their body chemistry - changes slightly simply from seeing me then that is still a good result.

Then things began to pick up, and more people began to hug me. Eventually 4 other people came to help out and there was a good little energy in Largo da Carioca, in Lapa. Some women saw us from the23rd story of the building next to the square and came down especially for a hug. A man in a nearby shop took a break from his live, vocal advertising and started telling people to come over for a free hug. Later, a TV camera came from a news station and filmed me hugging. They asked, "Why are you doing this?" I said, "Why not? To spread love and happiness."

And since then I've had a few people recognise me on the street, and yell out "Abracos Gratis" as I pass them and then come over for a free hug - this includes people from local businesses and homeless people and people from the slums, i.e. the favelas. Everyone appreciates a good hug and a random exchange of positive energy.

Overall it was good, but I think the people of Rio are a little reserved and suspicious of strangers. They are a very warm people, and lovely people, but I guess the history of crime in Rio has made people very aware of strangers approaching them - no matter how pure their motives. Though many people smiled and laughed and appreciated the idea - even if they didn't hug - there were still a great number of people who avoided eye-contact and rushed by, eager to get past me. I felt like chasing after these people and forcing a hug onto them to show them there is much love in the world, and everyone is welcome to a share of it :)

Free Hugs puts both the hugger and the huggee into a vulnerable position, both submitting themselves to rejection. It challenges someone to step out of their comfort zone - into unknown territory - with the hope of being accepted. Hence, when that embrace does happen, the exchange of energy is so much more beautiful and rewarding. The change in a person's body and spirit is immeasurable - even if it may not seem apparent. Go out today, meet a random person and exchange a sincere free hug. Come on... help change the world!

Muitos abracos gratis to you all,


  1. Anonymous03:23

    Hey brother. How's your great mission journey? I hope that you will be make your life with big scale of love and light.
    Sending with big hugs! Ken

  2. Thank you, my friend. The journey is going well. I'm really enjoying being in Rio - it's a great place. I'm going to samba tonight.
    Thanks for being on my journey with me :)
    much love to you, my brother.

  3. Anonymous10:55

    Your from Australia? DO you like closure in Moscow?

  4. I haven't heard any of their music, but I'll check them out. :)

  5. I've never been to Brazil, but I would have imagined that Brazilians were very warm and friendly people in general(all the Brazilians I've met were like that), but I can relate to the situation - the same thing happens in Hungary whenever there are any free hugs campaigns. People in the Budapest metro go out of their way to avoid the huggers...

  6. Oh yes, they are most definitely among the warmest and friendliest people I know.