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Cuddling…a word that is usually kept out of the office for good reason, but what if the method of touch was used as a team building tool to talk about boundaries and consent in the workplace. The power of touch is “far-reaching”, encouraging us when we feel lost, comforting us when are feeling sad, and most importantly it allows us to accept that we are not alone. Now if only there was a bizarre business out there that channeled these benefits into a structured event…wait there is! Say hello to Cuddle Party, a business that is exactly what it sounds like. Launched in 2004 by Co-Founders Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski, Cuddle Party’s first event was held in a tiny New York City apartment when the need for facilitated touch workshops became apparent to the relationship coaching duo. Since their humble beginnings 14 years ago, the touch-based event has become a worldwide phenomenon, spreading to the West Coast and then to 17 other countries with 200 certified practitioners, and over 5000 participants! With their business continuing to grow around the globe and a lofty $80/hour price point, let’s take a look at what all the cuddling hype is all about.
In the cuddle space, you can be where you are with whatever emotion you’re feeling and no one has any expectations of you.This is a G-rated event, Touch stays outside the bikini area.”
In a time where everyone is continuously navigating boundaries, it makes sense that there should be an event like this to help make sense of it all and teach important skills for life. Cuddle parties attract singles, couples, and even families. The reasons one may seek out a professional cuddling experience ranges from average adults seeking connection, those healing from sexual trauma, or for people wanting to simply practice touch in a safe environment. Each event is about three hours long, with the intro being of vast importance to the core message the company is trying to promote. The Cuddle Party event facilitator starts the session by leading the group through a number of warm-up exercises from deep breathing, to body awareness activity, to some light stretching. The facilitator then outlines a few key rules for the event: to keep the identities of everyone in the room confidential, that no touch is required, that you can change your mind at any time, and to respect others’ boundaries with enthusiasm. In an event that depends almost entirely on physical intimacy, the topic of consent is crucial to the field’s success where everyone should be in the “hell yes” space before being touched.
While in a setting structured to be safe place for enjoyment and exploration, you get the chance to meet new people in an uniquely authentic way, enjoy amazing conversations, to touch, to be touched, to have fun, to practice asking for what you want and more importantly to practice saying ‘no’ to what you don’t want. Take the whole touch thing away, teaching people that they have the choice over their body is something that many have never seen it before, let alone experienced firsthand in a safe space. With the Cuddle Party movement taking off, facilitators are being trained at an increased level to help the business scale at an incredible rate while maintaining the quality of the promised experience and associated health benefits.
“After cuddling we feel more connected, empathetic, content, [have] lower stress, anxiety and depression”
From a small apartment to a worldwide sensation when it was incorporated in 2016, Cuddle Party trains cuddle facilitators and host parties continuously on an international basis. The facilitators each have to take a four-day professional cuddler training course that goes over the rules of consent & boundary activities, enroll in an online seminar, attend a Cuddle Party group session, and pass a video or in-person evaluation. It may sound like a lot of hoops to jump through just to receive the title of a “Professional Cuddler”, but Cuddle Party takes it seriously to ensure the unique experience is carried out the exact way it was designed. The company has taken huge steps in de-stigmatizing a therapeutic tool once associated with pay-for-sex undertones to a legitimate service for healing with health benefits that range from lower oxytocin stress levels and positive brain development. Professional cuddling is the latest form of self-care and wellness that seemingly will continue to be accepted by society. In a time when so much can seem out of the average person’s control, a form of therapy that leaves participants feeling empowered, that they have a choice over their bodies and livelihoods is truly priceless regardless of the stigmas of the past.
Affectionate contact boosts your serotonin and oxytocin levels and will improve your mood quickly.
This Untold Business story teaches an important lesson about finding comfort in the uncomfortable. Cuddle Party found a way to monetize that message, creating a program that empowers one to learn tools that translate into life outside the cuddle space. If you feel like this type of experience might be for you, check out CuddleParty.com to find an event space closest to you. Leave your lingerie at home…bring snacks, pillows, and blankets to an event you will never forget!
June 8, 2018| By Chaz Hermanowski – Untold Business Writer