Holding Others As A Sacred Practice
ABOUT OUR RETREATS:
Touch Practice can be practiced by men of any sexual orientation or relational status. Sexual orientation and marital status are irrelevant to applying the techniques and principles of Touch Practice; it is not a sexual practice. We hold a safe and respectful space for all individuals, beliefs, personal choices and practices. Workshops are small, informal, and intimate, limited to approximately 18 participants.
This is a workshop where the participants partner with each other in guided touch exercises, alternating with teaching, demonstration and and discussion periods. We explore touch as a sacred practice using the body, the mind, and the heart. We delve into the following lines of inquiry:
WHY WE TOUCH
- Exploring the benefits and applications of conscious, intentional, non-sexual touch as a form of spiritual practice
- Utilizing touch as a support for others
- Noticing who comes to Touch Practice, and how we can help each other
- Realizing the power of holding a clear and specific intention when touching or being touched by others
HOW WE TOUCH
- Learning the essentials of giving and receiving a simple hug
- Holding people who have specific physical/emotional limitations, needs, or injuries
- Constructing, projecting and defending touch boundaries
- Establishing how to get touched where and how you want, without being touched in ways you don’t
- Sensing, clarify, and protect touch boundaries for others
- Differentiating between sexual, non-sexual, erotic and non-erotic touch
- Navigating and directing the impulses, sensations, and emotions of a physically close but non-sexual encounter
- Utilizing grounding, breathing, and centering techniques that help us to be aware of our experience
- Being sensitive to the dynamic and ever-changing language of the body
- Becoming aware of different ways of “seeing” and sensing another person both visually and energetically
- Finding approaches, postures and positions for holding others in standing, sitting, and horizontal positions
- Exercising gentle approaches for people who are touch-sensitive or touch-averse
- Working skillfully with erotic energy when and if it emerges*
- Exploring techniques for non-sexualized genital touch*
All participants remain fully in control of their touch boundary choices throughout the weekend. It is not necessary for any member of the workshop to participate in non-sexual genital touch if these experiences do not feel appropriate or welcome. The workshop will be a place where we maintain safe and welcoming space for men of all sexual orientations and respect for personal and relational choices.
NEXT RETREAT: TO BE ANNOUNCED
I must express my gratitude for the session that we did together. While no single hour can probably really change a person’s life so completely, I can tell you this: in combination with the entire retreat weekend, that hour with you was one of the most poignant and transformative hours of my life. Since then, I began a daily meditation and movement practice (in which I spend part of the meditation re-assimilating the ritual we did together); I go to bed early enough to finally get enough sleep so that I do not need to drink caffeine to stay awake at work; I am allowing enough time so that I am no longer perpetually running late; I have cut back on my sugar use; I started paying attention to how much money I spend and budgeting.
While I used to experience a low-grade sense of agitation/irritability and anxiousness, with an accompanied, persistent muscular tension, I have discovered a sense of peace that I might not sure I have ever known before for an extended period of time. I feel like my internal space is not twisted and tight, but more like a warm pillow. I feel content, I don’t feel lonely.
As a therapist who has been in individual therapy for 21 years, I can’t tell you how profoundly therapeutic that experience with you was for me. I feel like I have arrived in my life and you were an important tour guide showing me the way, and for that, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you very, very much. I wish the very best for you.
Now that the whirlwind of emotions in me is a little quieter, I want to try to express how I feel and tell you how much you and your workshop have helped me. I went in thinking I would learn a new sets of techniques, a new approach to helping others; I came away with a deeper appreciation of who I am, what I’ve been missing in my life and how I can now help myself.
Here is my story in a nutshell to help you understand what I’m about to write. I grew up with a very loving single mom, but without a father. I was also molested as a child by my sister’s boyfriend. You can imagine the number of issues I’m working with my therapist to overcome: -).
When you asked me to participate in the demo, I was thrilled. Ever since I heard about you, I had wished I could experience your work. All the series of events at the workshop – from the puppy pile on Friday evening to the progression of breathing, grounding, holding and touching exercises on Saturday – prepared me to fully experience what the afternoon would bring. It still took a little bit of work for me to let the walls come down, but I’m so glad I did. To be standing there fully naked with nothing to hide behind and to have you invite me into your arms just as I am was so powerful; but the moment I will always remember is when we were hugging while standing and you invited me to rest and let go, you said: “here just rest, let go, I’ve got you, I’ve got you.” When I let my body just go limp and you held me up and you repeated “I’ve got you,” at that moment I felt what it is like to have another man hold me and support me when I was at my weakest and most vulnerable. At that moment, I felt loved, I felt protected, I felt cared for. I imagine that is the feeling a child must fill when his father holds him with no expectations, with no judgements, with no hidden agendas. I have felt that kind of love when I’ve held my nephews and nieces as babies; but I never knew that kind of love was possible for me. I’m working with my therapist on finding ways to help the little child in me heal; before the retreat, I could not have loved the little ME with that kind of love, but now I know what it feels like and I know how to provide it for ME. This is the moment when my healing started.I realize it may have felt different for you, but this what I experienced. Then later, when we were lying down with me on top and my head on your chest I felt safe, I felt secure, I felt at home. At the end of the session when my friend Bob asked me how I felt, I said I felt complete, I felt whole. A void in me had been filled. I just felt so fulfilled, I wanted to share that feeling with the whole world.
The next morning, when trying to explain how I felt, I said I felt like a butterfly that had just left its cocoon. When I thought about the meaning of those words I realized that I see myself in a different light now. I can appreciate the beauty in me. You have no idea how much I have tried not to feel like the “ugly duckling”!: -)
Over the last few days whenever I’ve thought about those moments or whenever I’ve told the story to my therapist and then to my partner I just started crying. I’ve cried tears of joy for knowing that feeling, tears of sorrow for having had to wait 43 years to find out what that feels like, but most of all tears of gratitude to the universe that made our paths merge so I could experience those moments and to you for showing me that feeling and helping me heal. I will always be grateful to you and I will always treasure that little piece of you that you left in my heart. You said it best in a posting to our group on Facebook, I feel like we went from being total strangers to being like brothers. So, THANK YOU my brother.”