The Puppy Body
We tend to think of time in a linear way, although science suggests that time doesn’t really exist the way we construe it.
Because we’re finite beings in this physical body, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, we see ourselves as existing on a kind of timeline. But the truth about time, and about all of us, is that all of the parts of us exist simultaneously. Everything I will ever be was already in existence the moment I was born; it’s just that I can only access one slice of me at a time, and so I can sometimes experience myself as a sequence of events, as I walk through my life, rather than a being.
We are born with great wisdom (as well as great inexperience) and we die with great wisdom (and great inexperience.) If we really begin to pay attention, we see that the more we learn, the more we know what we don’t know. From one way of seeing, we come into this life with virtually nothing and spend our lifetime acquiring what we need and gaining understanding. On another level, we come into this life with everything we could possibly need, absolutely crystal clear from birth, and spend our lifetime letting go of, losing, and becoming less clear about things. Both are true.
All of the time-pieces of our being exist simultaneously; all of these “slices” I experience exist at once. Sometimes psychotherapists will refer to a person’s “inner child,” as though that child is still there. It is. Sometimes a parent will say to a child, during a moment of great stress, “Mommy needs you to be your best grown-up self right now” and the child can find that as though it already exists, because it does.
Time as a straight-line thing is something we have constructed because we can’t think outside of the concept of linear time, but I think if you pay attention, you can sense the truth that you are more than you are at this particular dot along the timeline–you are on some level infinite; you always have been, and always will be.
Because of this, we spend a lot of time in Touch Practice working in what I call “Puppy Body.” I sometimes call this being in our “little boy bodies,” but for some men, being in the body they had as a little boy can be difficult or triggering, especially if there was unpleasantness or abuse associated with that body. Puppy Body can be a safer way to refer to that part of ourselves. It is the part of our body that responds to touch in a pre-sexual way.
Because we think about time linearly we tend to forget the existence of this body in adulthood. We think, “oh, as little children, we had tactile experiences with others, were held, cuddled, sometimes we even had erections, but nothing needed to be done about them other than enjoy the sensations. We were pre-sexual; touch that stimulated us didn’t need to go anywhere complicated or ‘adult.'”
Then we hit puberty and late adolescence, and that disappears, and suddenly every erection needs an action plan, or leads to some sort of sexual outlet. The idea of playing with the bodies, becoming aroused for a moment, engaging that in a tacile and erotic way with a non-sexual outcome can seem as though it is a phase of childhood that we have left behind. Puppy Body is the cuddly, tactile, “can’t get enough touch” body that we can actually see in puppies BEFORE they get to the phase where they’re constantly humping your leg. It’s pre-sexual touch.
It is possible to access Puppy Body from adulthood, to come back into the body we had as children, and to touch and to be touched in a way which is exploratory, creative, innocent, curious, and open-ended. When we are in Puppy Body, we react differently to erotic energy. Instead of a linear drive towards ejaculatory experience, there’s a simple acknowledgement, an engagement and release and return to the entire body. Focus on the breathing and grounding of the partners facilitates this.
Often when I engage people in this kind of interaction, there will be a moment five or ten minutes in where they relax, smile, and look up at me, and when I ask them what they’re experiencing, the answer is something along the lines of “wow, I can feel the way I was in my body as a child.” That’s Puppy Body; that’s it. We carry ourselves so differently in our bodies as adult men then we did as children, but the child is still there, still accessible, and it can be very productive, often healing, sometimes inspiring, to go back and spend time in that body, the child-body or puppy body.
One of the things we can do there is just play. When was the last time you played? I mean really played–not as part of a work project, or because you were doing a team-building exercise, or because you wanted bigger muscles or cardiovascular benefit, but just play for the sake of play? Play is astoundingly productive. Play, on a neurobiological level, is one of the ways in which the brain makes new connections. It is one of the best ways to support creativity and new ways of thinking. Sitting in our bodies and playing together, just playing, nothing more serious, can be healing and empowering.
One of the the most valuable discoveries I’ve had in Touch Practice is finding out about Puppy Body, and the aspect of physical being with each other where we can touch, play and roll around innocently, with no hidden agenda or ultimate motive, other than to simply be, explore, create, and play in our bodies together.
If this interests you, keep an eye out for your Puppy Body this week. It’s still there, still very much alive, that body you had as a little kid, the body that wants to be wrapped in a blanket, snuggled, and held with no greater agenda. The part that wants to run around, wrestle, and play with other kids just for the sake of playing is still a part of you. Spend some time there if you get the chance.
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