Finding Touch Practice Partners


by Kevin Smith

I often hear from men in remote parts of the country who stumble across my website and ask, “can you help me find someone here who does what you do?”

Sometimes I’ll leave a city, having shared Touch Practice there with several people, and one of them will later write, “can you set me up with someone else here in [Kansas City] so that I can continue this practice for myself?”

These are tough questions for me and, unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to help with either one. But they’re certainly worthy of discussion, and, triggered by a comment from one reader out west, I thought I’d devote this article to these sorts of inquiries.

First, I really don’t know anyone who does exactly what I do, because Touch Practice evolved naturally and organically in response to my own searching and my own needsIt is certainly related to other kinds of touch, but like every practitioner, I have my own unique style.

Helping potential practice partners find each other is even tougher. When I practice with someone, I feel a tremendous sense of personal responsibility. I feel responsible for being clear and specific about my intentions, about limits and boundaries, and giving the person a good idea of what to expect.  During the practice itself I monitor grounding and breathing for both myself and my partner. I watch carefully to try to ensure that we’re safe, that neither of us is in over his head, both of us are aware of our experience, and that the practice is operating within the boundaries that we established for it.  I can’t do that, obviously, if I’m not in the room, and I hesitate to introduce two strangers to each other because I can’t ensure their safety with each other.

What I can do is offer each of you my fairly strong assurance about something: if you are clear and fierce in your intentions of what you are hoping to find for yourself in terms of a sacred practice of touch, your practice will find you. Both the form of your practice and your partners will emerge out of thin air if you are intentional enough about what you want.

And that can be harder than it sounds.

It is not at all unusual that a man will set out looking for a deep, intimate and sacred physical connection to someone, but will settle instead for a quick blow job if one happens to come along.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-sex. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a blow job. A blow job is a nice thing.

However, if you have ever set out to lose 10 pounds and get in great shape, getting all psyched up with an ecstatic image of being in your new body, but repeatedly find yourself taking advantage of the first pepperoni pizza that comes along, then you know that the two goals cancel each other out. A pepperoni pizza right now trumps weight loss two weeks from now, every time. Often the pizza, like the blow job, happens “by accident.” Or at least without a great deal of intention.

One piece of what we’re talking about psychologically is called delayed gratification. We give up something easy and quick in order to seek out something richer, deeper and harder to find. All kinds of spiritual practices involve delayed gratification–fasting, silent retreats, giving up candy for Lent, sexual abstinence, and other practices all give up what is quicker and easier to find in order to search out something more elusive and valuable, something which points us deeper.

We often end up eating not because we’re hungry, but because we’re bored, frustrated, lonely, angry, or out of touch with what we’re feeling. And in a similar way, we sometimes get detoured when we go looking for a deeper physical but non-sexual connection to others.  Most of us have experienced “accidents” with both food and sex at some point during our lives. No judgment or criticism is intended here (nor do I encourage you to heap any upon yourself.)  Simply get clear, and refocus: what is my intention? What endpoint am I aiming at?

Here are the best suggestions I can come up with for those of you who are looking for “someone like me” in the city where you live, or who would like to create for yourself a grounded, conscious practice of getting touched as part of your spiritual path:

  • Establish a grounding practice for yourself, and practice, if at all possible, daily. A sitting meditation practice, such as breath-based or vipassana (insight) meditation,  is a great place to start. Grounding practices also include prayer, mindful walking, ritual physical routines like working out, running, Tai ChiQi Gong and many, many others.
  • Be fierce and clear in your intentions. Articulate what you want for yourself; it should be so clear you can write it down. There is a reason my original Craigslist ad for Touch Practice was the longest Craigslist ad many people had ever seen.  As the ad evolved, the longer it got, the closer I got to finding what I was looking for; the fewer “accidents” I experienced. Have a clear vision of what you’re looking for and what you’re not looking for, and stick to your vision. Remember the pizza. If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up; just get back on the horse and try again. It’s a practice; we get better at it by practicing.
  • Kindness is a marker. Physical connection as a form of care and spiritual practice for ourselves and others is ultimately an act of kindness, and often a form of love. If an interaction is marked by great deal of judgment, negativity, expectation, cynicism, exploitation or harshness, this is an indicator that something’s not quite right. Take a step back and thoughtfully reconsider the situation. Conversely, the presence of kindness is a good sign that you’re on the right path.

Please feel free to email me if you’re in the process of setting up your own practice and you think I can be of support to you. The good news is that no matter where you live, there is “someone like me” living in your town. That someone is YOU!

I wish you grounding, safety, clear intentions, and kindness.