As I opened the internet this morning I found my home page had decided to change from Google to MSN. I don’t know why this happens and I actually find it quite annoying, but before I could reset my page back to normal a featured story caught my eye.
Apparently a woman in Portland, Oregon has opened a business called “Cuddle Up To Me”. For $60.00 she will spend an hour cuddling you, stroking your hair, holding your hands and spooning. The wearing of pyjamas is encouraged and the sessions are taped for the safety of both parties. According to Ms Hess, she receives as many as 10,000 emails per week inquiring about her services.
Hess says that she got the idea for it during a low point in her life. “I was at a place where I thought paying someone to hug me and not have ulterior motives sounded like a great idea,” she added. “I decided why can’t this be a thing that we can easily and safely reach for?”
This article got us talking in the office this morning, and I was a little surprised to find that at some point in our lives, we all would have paid for a good cuddle from a stranger, no strings attached.
I was living overseas in Japan when came to the realisation one day that no one had hugged me for 8 months. This thought was quite shocking. Even though I am not a super touchy person, I found a total lack of friendly physical contact left me feeling like something was vaguely out of whack in my world. Having identified that the lack of contact as the problem, I noticed a strange habit I had also developed. In crazy over packed trains, where train guards literally push people in through to doors so the doors can shut, instead of feeling suffocated, cramped and uncomfortable, I found myself feeling safe and secure- I felt happy. With the bodies of 3 or 4 people squished against me, that vague feeling of unrest went away. Once I realised this, I made a huge effort to start hugging my friends and work mates, and even though that felt a little weird for me at first, I soon noticed the empty feeling went away all together. I figured it was either learn to hug work mates, or purposefully ride the crowded trains like a creepy hug thief…
Before my partner and I lived together, we would sometimes go days without seeing each other, and working on retreats in Bali and around Australia would keep us separated for up to three weeks at a time. Looking back over this era, I realised that we came up with the expression “cuddle tank” to describe the feeling of being loved, nurtured and cared for through contact with another person. If the gap became too long in between visits, I would tell my partner my cuddle tank was getting low, and I’d need a top up soon. Topping up the cuddle tank simply consisted of contact between us. It might be sitting in the car holding hands, leaning up against each other on the lounge, or lying in each others arms.
Physical contact between human beings is essential for our health. I can’t stress that enough. ESSENTIAL. Babies who are not touched enough show a failure to thrive and can quickly sicken and die. Scientific studies have been done with people suffering from anorexia nervosa. A simple, regular massage can significantly change their body image, feelings about their bodies, and levels of self love. Remember how healing Mum or Dads hands felt after a fall or when you were sick? We all need touch to be happy and healthy.
So today I ask you to have a look at your cuddle tank. How is it doing? Is it full? Half-full? Empty? And if it is not full to the brim, I ask you to go out there and fill it. If you don’t happen to have someone on hand to help you fill the tank, why not try massage or even a facial, manicure or pedicure. Try some kind of physical therapy that requires the healing touch of another person. Learning to dance is also a wonderful way to increase your physical contact with other people. Random partner dancing such as Modern Jive, Ceroc, Salsa or West Coast Swing are styles of dance that don’t require you to bring a partner or to be any particular age or skill level. It is great exercise and encourages you to meet many new people from all walks of life. Dancing is a ‘touchy’ sport, and I found all this physical contact refreshing and lovely when I started dancing. Another possibility is volunteering with the homeless or the elderly. Unfortunately these sectors of our society do not get the loving touch they deserve, so this is most defiantly a gift that gives straight back. Getting a pet is another wonderful way to fill up your tank. Dogs and cats often love a good snuggle and they soak up affection like sponges.
Or you could just start your own cuddle business here in Australia! Any way you want to do it, for your health, fill that tank! It’s good for your health