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Cuddle Workshops offer attendees a space to explore the importance of touch in a non-sexual environment. They are designed to “which explores affection, intimacy, boundaries and verbal/non-verbal communication” and are open to all. I attended a ‘Cuddling for Beginners’ class, to better understand how these events helped a group of strangers to literally embrace one another.
I arrived fifteen minutes early to the workshop, but hesitated before I enter the door labeled 'Room 1'. I have to admit, I was feeling nervous. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I knew I was about to engage in four hours of intimacy with absolute strangers.
When I finally plucked up the courage and entered the room, I found a trio of smiling women. One sat behind a table laden with biscuits, hot drinks and a large jar of mints, and offered me my name tag (punctuated with a little heart). Another gave me a laminated piece of paper with an ice breaker question. I dutifully went and asked the next person who entered the room "when was the last time you had a really amazing meal?" After a chat about the merits of London-based fish and chips, we discussed our reasons for attending a cuddle workshop.
For my part, I was intrigued by the idea of a space to explore platonic touch. As a teenager, I had been quite tactile, but became increasingly less so in recent years. I wanted to explore the idea of physical connection without worrying that my hugs would be misinterpreted. My companion told me she loves cuddling, and signed up to the workshop just this morning. She too had no idea what to expect.
What followed was an afternoon of sharing. We were asked to share our names, and how we were feeling. We asked one another if we could "share a hug". We shared the emotions stirred up by the exercises. Throughout the session, there was a real emphasis on being generous with ourselves, and one another.
"The experience of a cuddle workshop is subjective. Some participants would cry after an exercise, as the intimacy of the moment allowed for a great emotional release."
The workshop was made up of a series of exercises. The nature of these was varied: one exercise involved lying with your head in a partner's lap, while he or she stroked your head, arm, shoulders and back. Another played with the idea of presence, asking us to feel the difference between touching someone when distracted, touching someone when he or she is distracted, and touching someone when both of you are focused on the moment. There was an exercise involving an embrace known as a "melting hug". There was another where we practiced saying "no" to a proffered cuddle, and explored what it felt like to both reject and be rejected. This focus on consent, and accepting one another’s boundaries, was key: our leaders, Anna and Andrew, created an environment of communal respect. People were able to opt out of exercises, and we were told to ask our partner's permission before we reached out and touched them. We were also told to thank everyone we shared a physical connection with, and to thank those who didn't want to be touched. At the end of the workshop, many of the attendees told the group that they felt "grateful", and no wonder: we were constantly encouraged to engage with this warm emotion.
The experience of a cuddle workshop is subjective. Some participants would cry after an exercise, as the intimacy of the moment allowed for a great emotional release. Two men both explained how stroking another man's arms reminded them of their fathers, and how this memory helped reconfigure their preconception about male-male touch. One attendee announced at the end of the session that he felt energised; many others that they felt calm. Some, no doubt, left that afternoon feeling that they would stay on their oxytocin high for a while yet. Some, no doubt, felt their initial anxiety completely subside shortly into the session. Others may have felt the occasional stirring of nerves, but were able to accept this, and still engage with others.
"I wanted to explore the idea of physical connection without worrying that my hugs would be misinterpreted."
I entered the workshop intrigued, but sceptical. I left with an appreciation of how open people can be, and an acute awareness of how quickly two individuals can connect. I feel that every embrace I shared today told me so much about the person I shared with, and I wonder how much they now know of me.
I also left having experienced some jolly lovely hugs indeed.
1. All You Need Is Me natural ointment by True Organic of Sweden
Spring here in the Northern hemisphere takes a while to turn from crispy cold to cozy and delicate freshness. That’s why we appreciate the All You Need Is Me natural ointment by True Organic of Sweden as a part of our daily skincare routine. This natural blend is suitable for use anywhere and everywhere - even on your lips! It moisturizes as well as heals chapped skin. The travel-size version is perfect for popping into your purse!
2. Tucuma Cocoon Ultra-Soft Deo by NadiaZ
Sweating is not cool in any case, but nor are the aggressive chemicals and aluminium salts found in most regular deodorants. Swiss luxury range cosmetics brand NadiaZ offers a great alternative in the form of an artisanal blend of active indigenous plant based ingredients, helping to protect from unpleasant bodily odours in a more natural way. NadiaZ Tucuma Cocoon Ultra-Soft Deo, inspired by the founder's research on Amazonian plants, with an easy-to-apply thick texture doesn’t even attempt to be your continuous 24h protection, but realistically needs to be re-applied every now and then to prevent you from sweating. If this means benefiting from the nature at its finest, we go in all the way. For effective results, make the best out of respecting the ancient rituals and ditch all the chemos.
3. Hyaluronic Acid Cream Mask by LUMI
Prepare your skin to soak in all the lovely sun with the revitalising Hyaluronic Acid Cream Mask by LUMI. The mask is extremely moisturising and nourishing and perfect for all skin types. It’s easy to use and carries great results. Your skin will be fresh and glowing.
4. Peppermint Floral Water by Dabba
One of the best things about Spring are the smell of fresh grass and dewy mornings. That’s why we love Dabba’s Peppermint Floral Water in a convenient glass spray bottle! It’s a refreshing and cleansing toner that can wake you up even on the gloomiest of days.
5. Vegan Lipsticks by Axiology
If you’re looking to brighten up your look this season, why not try out Axiology’s Vegan Lipsticks? Their creamy and moist, yet light texture is ideal for everyday use. Axiology carries a variety of shades from soft nudes to dark as the night, making it easy to mix and match with different outfits on every occasion. There’s something for everyone. What better way to welcome Spring than making a conscious make-up choice!