Okay, you’ve heard or read about Cuddle Parties enough times that you’ve finally checked out the website, said to yourself in your best skeptical voice, “Hmmmm, seems harmless enough… Three hours of massage, spooning, and conversation sounds pretty okay.” Then your boss calls up and yells at you for ten minutes, after which the idea of cuddling a bunch of strangers sounds like heaven. In a moment of hug-fest-crave induced courage, you email your RSVP to the next Cuddle Party, and now you’re thinking, “What the heck do I do now? How do I make the most of all this?”
Well, I’m glad you asked, because here’s the 411 on getting the most spoon for your buck!
Here are our top ten tips on how to get the most out of a Cuddle Party:
10. Even if you’re feeling a tad nervous, participate in the Welcome Circle’s Hug Exercise and the now-world-famous Cow Exercise.
9. After the Cow Exercise (an amazingly silly exercise designed to make us less self-conscious about being Serious Grown-ups Who Shouldn’t Be Touchy-feely With One Another), be prepared that your self-conscious inner-critic voice will mug your playful side and try to tell you that you’re nuts for coming to a Cuddle Party! Your inner critic is just scared. Our advice? Say “Thanks, inner critic, but I’m going to keep cuddling right now,” take a deep breath and stay put for at least two minutes.
8. If you have difficulty saying No powerfully in your everyday life, announce during the Welcome Circle that you’re here to practice saying No and invite everyone to get at least one No from you today.
7. If you’re really scared about getting rejected, go to the person in Number Eight above, invite them to snuggle, and receive a big, fat, scary No, knowing that not only are you helping them work on their “stuff”, but you don’t have to take their rejection personally. Ask yourself “How scary really was it to get rejected?” If the answer is anything less than heart attack invoking, then ask the person from Number Eight if you can be rejected by them again. If they say Yes, come up with the scariest request you can imagine asking someone at a Cuddle Party, and let it fly.
And if they say No to your request to be rejected twice, congratulations! They just rejected you a second time! Crazy, eh?
6. If you’re a really shy person, announce during the Welcome Circle (if you can) that you’re one of those people who takes a little longer to “warm up”. Invite people to come and talk to you for a bit before they ask you to do anything cuddly. You also might mention a couple of subjects you love to talk about.
5. If you’re one of those people who LOVES to cuddle, let everyone know that you’re a cuddle savant, genetically engineered to spoon! Invite the group to see you for foot rubs, hand massages, back rubs, back of the head scratching, full body hugs, etcetera, etcetera. You can even ask the shy people if they’d be okay with you asking them to cuddle (just make sure you give them room to say No powerfully, and that you get a verbal Yes).
4. Practice checking in with the people you’re cuddling every once in a while by asking them things like “Is this okay?”, “Is how I’m touching you right now good for you?”, “Is there another way you’d prefer to be touched?”, “How would you like to be cuddled?”, and so on. Invite them to ask you for what they’d like as well.
3. Pay attention to your needs and honor them. This means listening to and checking in with yourself, too. If you’re exhausted, then curl up and take a nap. If your cuddle tank gets full, then leave early. If you’re feeling emotional, let your emotions come up. If you need to talk about something, have a question, or you have a concern that needs addressing, go get the Cuddle Lifeguard on Duty or the Cuddle Caddy. Most of all, be gentle with yourself. Many of us work too hard and Cuddle Parties are a great way to bring it down a notch and take a breather. Give yourself a break.
2. Don’t be afraid to “Cuddle Mingle” with everyone who’s a Yes. Meaning: Make sure you cuddle with everyone you want to (as long as they are a Yes). This is important because some people are so scared no one will cuddle them that they stay with the first person who says Yes for the entire Cuddle Party. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you want to switch cuddle partners, take a deep, fear-releasing breath, and announce, “I’m going cuddle mingle the room now! Please excuse me.” Unleash that inner Cuddle Monster of yours! Rrrrrrrrraaaagh!
1. Realize that a Cuddle Party is a safe space for you to make yourself feel uncomfortable. This means you might want to explore the edges of what’s usually comfortable for you and see what’s possible. Try it. You might like it!
Oh, and one last thing: Come to another Cuddle Party and repeat steps one through ten! Or, just for the heck of it, apply the Rules of Cuddling to the rest of your life and see what happens!