Can you imagine getting together with a bunch of total strangers with the intention of allowing them to touch and cuddle you? Eeeeeeuw! is the reaction some have to this question.

My reaction? Oh WOW! That’s such a wonderful idea, especially for the multitude of hermits sitting at home alone never experiencing any form of touch, save for those few who have a cat or dog or parrot. I’m filled with excitement at the prospect of providing a safe, non-sexual space to allow people to interact in a friendly, non-threatening way and to experience the incredibly healing and nourishing power of human touch.

How do we find ourselves in this situation, deprived of human closeness? Look at the extended family structure where people live closely, in a spirit of community: sharing, interacting, supporting, touching, together. Although it may be too much closeness at times, we have the option of removing ourselves to a place of solitude in order to gather our thoughts and breathe in our individuality.

In the Western world, we have largely moved away to the “nuclear family” structure, where we voluntarily isolate ourselves from both friends and family. Typically, we send the wise experience of our elders off to purgatory in an old-age home or retirement village, often making them feel isolated and unloved. We deny our children and grandchildren the opportunity to learn from the experience of those elders, and attempt to do the upbringing thing on our own or with the inclusion of hired help largely ill-equipped to fulfill that very important function.

Be that as it may, here we are, living alone, isolated from brushing, physically, against other living beings and when we do interact with others, we often do so with fear, as we have not learned about boundaries—ours or other people’s—and are ill-equipped to move into relaxed interaction as a result. Yet so many of us yearn for that physical closeness, but are terrified about the sexual connotations, feeling extremely vulnerable as so much media coverage focuses on dating and sex. It would seem they go hand in hand!

“So,” you may ask, “what is the difference with a cuddle forum?” There’s a workshop part of the program that sets up the rules for cuddling, which make the space safe for experience and experimentation. This provides the opportunity for people to test and work with their boundaries, to adjust them, to play with them, to understand them without any threat of manipulation or intimidation—sexual or otherwise.

So what is this I hear about saying “NO”? In a workshop environment you also get to test some fun “NO” exercises that equip you to say “no” without hesitation, without guilt and without the need for explanation. Wow! That’s so refreshing, comforting, empowering and fun!

Then there’s the constructive part of the program where people learn about touch in its many forms. Not only how to touch, but what kinds of touch are appropriate and where to touch. This is all achieved by verbal requests and suggestions, requiring verbal response. In this context “YES” and “NO” are a complete sentence, not requiring explanation or justification.

Perhaps the most important and life-changing aspect of this experience is the support and encouragement for you to change your mind as often as you wish—to align your boundaries with your comfort zones.

After all…

Barry du Plooy is a Life Coach Counsellor in South Africa. Since 1999 he has been involved in the mind, body, spirit arena and is qualified in a variety of healing and analytical techniques. He is a certified NLP Practitioner, Seichem Master (super Reiki) and a Face Reading Practitioner. He also does Antaneea Massage Technique, Inner child and emotional work, Sensual and Gentle-touch Healing Massage, Thought Management Counselling. To learn more about Barry or contact him, please visit his website http://www.barryduplooy.co.za
image: Francois de Halleux (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND)