News from the World of Touch Practice
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.
Our 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.
And 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?
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