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News from the World of Touch Practice

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I realize it has been a while since I’ve blogged. Sometimes blogging comes in seasons for me and needs some “down time” to let the garden regenerate. I don’t know that I’m ready to start writing regular weekly articles again, but I did want to give something of an update for many of you who have been checking in and asking questions.

photo-31Our first-ever Retreat for Experienced Practitioners was a big hit, for me, in particular, because I felt like I did absolutely nothing all weekend. Spending four days in a cool little rustic “inn” with 15 other very experienced Touch Practice partners was both humbling and rewarding. The burden of “teaching” was shared; everyone taught. People taught by modeling, by leading discussions, by offering yoga in the mornings, by sharing about their own practice, in all different kinds of ways. Watching the hours of practice that went on every day between these skilled partners was teaching in itself.

Several of the men shared about small, mutually assembled retreats called M.E.L.T. groups (Men Embracing Loving Touch) which came about as an offshoot of one of our previous Touch Practice workshops. It was fascinating to hear how a small group of men put together a weekend for themselves, rented a house, cooked meals, constructed a functional governance and boundary system, and built a weekend of conscious, grounded touch to enjoy together.

Another great thing about the weekend was to hear from a couple of individuals who have established their own practices, their own offering of Touch Practice in the communities where they live. Each of us has different ways of meeting and screening (“intaking”) potential touch partners, different ways of creating safety and establishing boundaries. It was great to hear them share the stories of how their own practices are setting up. If you’re looking for Touch Practice with a skilled partner in Pittsburgh, Toronto, or Tampa, have I got a snuggle buddy for you!

This workshop marked our seventh public workshop; I can’t quite believe it myself. (Workshops have been offered in Tampa, New Hampshire, Asheville, San Diego, and near Albany.) This aspect of Touch Practice is currently undergoing some rethinking; I’m considering changing some things about how we put workshops together.

The logistics of putting a workshop together (renting a venue, calculating costs, taking deposits and registration, etc.) feel overwhelming for me. But doing the actual work itself (teaching, talking, holding people) I could do in my sleep with no preparation; it takes me nothing at all. So I would do a workshop a week if only someone else would handle the logistics of putting the thing together, which is pointing towards a new way of thinking about all of this.

There are workshop inquiries from New Mexico, California, Utah, Minnesota and Toronto and ongoing discussions in those places. What I’m hoping will emerge is a new model: instead of me handling the logistics of putting a Touch Practice workshop together, dealing with rentals and logistics and deposits AND the teaching, someone else handles part one, and I show up and be present, teach, and hold people. I think that new model might have some legs, and I feel hopeful about the possibilities of that model in the future. It will allow me to reach more people with less effort.

(Read here for more information on how Touch Practice workshops can be designed and set up. Facilitators do not take any fee for Touch Practice; we consider it a practice of spiritual service to others. The workshop costs are limited to facilities fees, meals, and travel costs.)

Other news: I increasingly trust that Spirit is my partner in this work, and now more than ever, I am committed to the practice of “I will hold whomever Spirit sends.” In spiritual practice, the word we are talking about is “faith.” I am developing strong, often unshakable faith. Case in point: I just visited a midwestern city for the first time in my life, and possibly the last; five days before the visit, I received a random inquiry on my website, “do you ever visit [same midwestern city?]”  Clearly not a coincidence: the two touch practices we shared were profound and powerful for both of us, and I feel as though I met a long-lost little brother, someone I knew all my life but hadn’t met yet.

I trust that I am sent where I am needed and that Touch Practice finds the people who need it, and they find me, without advertising, without marketing, without money. There is a partnership with Spirit in this work that we all need not only to seek out but trust. If this work is not about love, kindness, and spiritual practice, then it is lost, in my opinion. It is nothing.

hugging-coupleAnd on that note: one of my younger brothers asked a few days ago, “so is Touch Practice related to your kindness practice?” Touch Practice IS kindness as expressed by the physical body. One of the ways to view Touch Practice is, “what would unconditional love look like if it were expressed with the body? What would kindness, or acceptance, or non-judgmental posture, look like if it were expressed with the body?”

Touch Practice IS kindness. If it is not kindness, it is not Touch Practice.  This is my best understanding at the moment of this thing that I carry, and which I am privileged and honored to carry in this lifetime.

Love one another, brothers.

Have thoughts you’d like to share?

Touch Practice is a sacred practice for me, and part of that is keeping confidences sacred. While a name and e-mail address are required to post a comment, feel free to use just your first name, or a pseudonym if you wish. Your e-mail address will never be seen by or shared with anyone. It is used to prevent spam and inappropriate comments from appearing in the blog. I’d really like to hear from you!

  1. Lee
    Lee10-24-2014

    Dear Kevin, I very much appreciated the most recent posting on the website, referring to the Retreat for Experienced Practitioners (9/25-28/2014) and the many talents that arose from the well-practiced participants. One of the issues raised in the blog for May, 2014 (“Our Next Workshop”) warmly and sensitively addressed the intentional option of allowing interested participants of the September workshop to be naked in their interacting, as well as allowing those who were not drawn to that level of connectedness to remain clothed. Could you share with us impressions of what the experience taught those who were present and offer guidelines for those of us who would like to move in the direction of inviting nudity into exchanges with like-hearted men? Thank you!

    • Kevin Smith
      Kevin Smith10-24-2014

      Hi Lee: I’m afraid I can’t share anything about what the experience taught those who were present; that would have to come directly from each person at the workshop. For me, it taught me that mixed groups (clothing on, clothing off) are entirely feasible and manageable, and that, as long as each person is mindful and sensitive of the needs of others around him, we can all have very different senses of acceptable boundaries and have good and satisfying practices with each other, even if we differ from each other significantly. Warm hugs to you–Kevin

  2. Jeff
    Jeff10-25-2014

    Kevin,

    I thought I had been missing your blogs with a change in email addresses for me. I know I had seen a few message about the retreat and such, as well as messages from Easton Mountain.

    Everytime I see your blog and read your message of Touch Practice I am moved to a place of such joy, as well as longing. This gift you offer is so amazingly beautiful.

    I have more I wish to write yet time will not permit at the moment!

    Thank you Kevin for all that you do and are!

    jeff

  3. James Martin
    James Martin10-25-2014

    I’m so pleased to learn of the happy success which was the Retreat for Experienced Practitioners!

    “There is a partnership with Spirit in this work that we all need not only to seek out but trust.”

    Yes.

    But there are times–for me–when trust is not so easy, when our usual ways of measuring success or progress seem to suggest imminent failure. I’m experiencing this as an organizer of a new mindfulness practice community which seeks to give its “services” without fees. Sometimes so few people show up to our sessions that we seem to be headed nowhere. But then, yesteday, only two of us showed up and we had the one of our best sessions ever! So much for measurement, or numbers.

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