Co-Founder & Director of Training Madelon Guinazzo on Cuddling
Professional cuddling is very new and like all things it is evolving. My years of experience coaching communication with healthcare professionals and facilitating workshops on cuddling and consent with groups of people has taught me volumes about how people can genuinely connect very deeply very quickly. This is a skill set that can be taught and practiced. It has everything to do with boundaries and the ability to consistently communicate them in positive ways. When we do this it creates the safety necessary for tenderness and vulnerability to show up. The combination is magical and there is a need for it.
Our society is hungry to feel close to ourselves and others in healthy ways. Cuddling is a vehicle for this. We have done so much in the last 50 years to protect people from unhealthy abusive touch. Now we are ready to discover new ways to provide healthy nurturing touch. Separating it from sex is essential. We need to experience physical closeness as adults without the complications and pressure of sex. Cuddling is about being able to relax into whatever we are feeling in the moment in the presence of another person who sees that we are good. This is tremendously nurturing, even healing, in and of itself.
All human beings have bodies and emotions. We need to FEEL a sense of physical and emotional safety and belonging with others. This is the experience our cuddlists are trained to provide. It is pioneering work. We are bringing something new and needed to those who are ready to try it. We don’t expect it to be right for everyone and we are adamant about no one being touched in any way they don’t want to be. What we do believe is that every time one person becomes more relaxed, happy and connected it ripples out and improves things for the rest of us.
Thank you for all the ways you exercise choice and respect around touch in your life.
Why We Started Cuddlist
We all want love, acceptance and connection with other people. We’re social beings, and this connection with others is part of our emotional, physical and spiritual DNA.
Touch plays an important role in building these connections, increasing scientific evidence clearly shows a connection that lack of touch can lead to depression, anxiety and a myriad of heath issues, and an inability to connect with others. We will be exploring the healing power of Non Sexual, Consensual Touch in detail in upcoming posts.
Most of us don’t get enough touch in our lives.
We’re touch-deprived, and most of us don’t even know it consciously. All we know is that there’s loneliness and stress and a deep sense of missing out. We feel this because there’s a biochemical yearning for something that is missing in our lives. And there is something missing: touch and the connection with others that it fosters.
That’s why we started Cuddlist. Safe, non-sexual, consensual touch fills a need that’s badly neglected in our society. Cuddling relaxes us and reduces stress at the very least, and on the deeper level it nourishes our soul and helps us get in touch with our higher self. Much like yoga and meditation, non-sexual touch is healing and transformative.
Cuddlist brings together those who need touch (and that would be just about all of us!) with Certified, professional cuddlers who are experienced, safe, well-versed in cuddling techniques and follow a code of conduct that set the conditions for a great session.
While any two people can cuddle, of course, what sets Cuddlist apart is that we are creating the marketplace for transformative cuddling, and we bring the professionalism and best practices that make it work; Cuddlist training is overseen by my co-founder, Madelon Guinazzo, and she both has years of experience as a full-time Cuddlist and knowledge of what works in practice.
While Cuddlist is something special, and fills an important gap in our world, I also want to share what it means to me personally.
I’ve been a yoga and meditation practitioner for more than 20 years. Yoga has been an animating principle in my life that has seen me through college, drug addiction, the corporate world in New York, loss and death, and the birth of my son and my relationship with my amazing spouse. I’m also a touchy-feely “hugger,” and when I go to shake someone’s hand I’m keenly aware how restricted touch is in our society.
Most would agree that touch is therapeutic, and the rush of oxytocin we produce when we cuddle is great, but in my experience cuddling also can be something deeper.
American Buddhist Jack Kornfield, in his book, After the Ecstacy, The Laundry, talks about how the simple act of being present can be a deeply spiritual practice. I think cuddling, if non-sexual and approached without expected outcomes in mind, can help us be present and raise our spiritual awareness.
So while I’m a “hugger,” and I immediately see the value that cuddling can play as a corrective in our society, I also think it contains a deeply spiritual component.
Indian civil rights leader Mohandas Gandhi said we must be the change we want to see in the world, and I want to play my part by encouraging non-sexual touch and the emergence of what might be called cuddle yoga.
Touch is important, and we don’t get enough of it. I want to change that, and that’s why I, along with my Co-Founder, started Cuddlist.
Will you join us?