I am usually shocked when a person tells me they were not shown affection as a child growing up. When someone tells me they were never touched or hugged by their parent, I shutter. I shutter because as a Holistic Practitioner and Intuitive Healer, I know what happens when a child is not shown physical affection by their parents. Our source relationships (parental connections) set the programming for how we live the rest of our lives. That does not mean our life path is set in stone, we can ALWAYS change our programming. However, some programs are more difficult to change than others and the ones that involve physical abuse and/or neglect can be some of the most difficult programs to change.
In his book, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind, David J. Linden says, “Child-rearing advice of the 1920’s from the psychologist John B. Watson (the founder of psychological movement called Behaviorism) cautioned parents about spoiling their children with physical affection: “Let your behavior always be objective and kindly firm. Never hug and kiss them. Never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task.”
This was in the 1920’s, so anyone that subscribed to this philosophy when raising young children, would have raised children that did not know what it was like to be touched or shown physical affection, possibly resulting in mild to severe disorders in their human development.
In Touch, David Linden goes on to say, “…when deprived newborns of social touch, as occurred in grossly understaffed Romanian orphanages in the 1980s and 1990s, disaster unfolded: Growth is slowed, compulsive rocking and other self-soothing behaviors emerge, and, if not rectified, emergent disorders of mood, cognition, and self-control can persist through adulthood.” After only an hour per day of touch and limb manipulation from a caregiver, these debilitating problems can be circumvented if applied early enough in life.
Simply put, touch is a necessity for human development.
Cuddle therapy is becoming widely popular all over the world for the reasons previously mentioned and for the research that is being done worldwide. Researchers at the Metropolitan University in England found cuddling lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and generally combats stress. The study also found a third of the population receives no hugs on a daily basis, but 75% want more. Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that couples that hugged for prolonged periods had higher levels of oxytocin -- the so called "cuddle hormone." Oxytocin creates feelings of calmness, eases depression, and reduces stress.
Cuddle sessions cannot be mistaken for anything other than cuddling. Cuddle space is non-sexual space. Clothing stays on at all times. Establishing boundaries and open communication are essential for creating a space conducive to emotional healing and relaxation.
So, what if someone gets aroused while cuddling? Arousal is a natural physiological response and much like a meditation, just because we have an itch, does not mean we must scratch. Changing positions and/or taking a break is sometimes helpful in this situation.
Being held in a safe, relaxing, open, and honest environment could help to begin the healing process. It allows us to be vulnerable and therein lays tremendous strength. In our patriarchal society we have been taught that weakness and vulnerability are synonymous. Many men (and women) do not allow themselves to cry, fail, hurt, grieve, or show emotion of any kind. There is now a safe place to do that.
Join us Sunday February 14th for our Cuddle workshop. Details can be found at www.happybellystudios.com or by emailing Info@happybellystudios.com