Thursday, February 16, 2012

Poly Living Conference Part Three: Some Background and Intro to Tantric Snuggling

Poly Living Conference Part Three: A Little Background and Intro to Tantric Snuggling

Just a little poly side note: a letter of mine got read on Poly Weekly this week. I feel so special! Plus it’s a nice racy episode. Enjoy!

I wanted to give you a little emotional background info before I start talking about the snuggle party.

Towards the end of December, an enormous chasm of grief opened up. This didn’t put too much of a damper on Christmas, thought it did give kind of a dark tint to our yearly family debates about whether Baby, It’sCold Outside is romantic or creepy. (romantic!) Overall, though, anhedonia is no match for Christmas spirit.  The chasm of grief sort of had a person associated with it, this quasi-BDSM relationship that I’ve written about elsewhere, but one person could not possibly inspire all of that sadness.

The grief was/is all that my body has been though and everything I’ve deprived it of in order to keep myself “safe.” It’s about the way’s in which my fear of men has alienated relationships and friendships and kept me separate in some ways from a whole gender, putting barriers into friendships and relationships. It’s kept me from knowing guys for who they really are. I think the sadness was also a reaction to the fact that I’d jest been through HUGE changes, all kinds of firsts and first-in-a-long-times, and I was trying to treat it like it was no big deal. It was a big fucking deal.

In the time since the chasm opened up, I’ve taken a lot of steps to move myself kindly and gently forward, to be open to more new experiences, and I really got bored with the grief. At the time of the conference, I still had some mentionitis about the guy, but I was feeling pretty good most of the time.

Anyway, back to the story. Here’s how the conference described the snuggle party:

“A SACRED SNUGGLE PARTY is a sweet sensual event where we create a safe space to flirt, touch, massage, run Tantric energy, play, laugh, cry, and share intimacy, vulnerability or whatever else spontaneously arises.  After a number of fun icebreakers, it becomes a drug and alcohol-free play party where we can relax and connect with like-minded people. Singles, couples, triads, pods, and celibates of any race, or experience level are welcome. All sexual orientations are celebrated.  This is a fun laboratory to practice expressing what feels good and what doesn’t, asking to get your needs met, setting boundaries, and perhaps even overcoming competition, envy and rejection! The evening event will close with a sacred ritual in which each player shares their most valuable lesson.”

I wasn’t convinced until I was sure that it was an organized activity with a facilitator. So many other things in life could use facilitators, I think.

When Amy heard that I wanted to go, she suggested that I get some new pajamas for it. She also brought me some gum in case dinner was too spicy. This is the kind of support I get—can’t get over how lucky I am. It was a drizzly day, so we also stopped and got me some fresh socks before we went back to the hotel. Amy hung out in the hotel atrium while I changed into my pjs. Then we got to cuddle on the hotel couch for a little bit before it was time for the party.

The snuggle party was in Ballroom A—your standard carpeted hotel meeting hall. Everyone who was staying at the hotel brought down blankets and comforters and smoothed them all out at the center of the room to make a nice soft cuddle space. A nice man from one of the couples brought down an extra pillow for me. I’d say there were about 30 people there, diverse in age, race, etc, dressed in all different styles, not as hippie-ish as you’re picturing. We all sat in a circle, getting ready to be oriented. Kamala Devi was the facilitator. She led us in some Tantric breathing and some Om-ing. I am fairly agnostic about body energy, but as soon as I sat down in that circle, if I have sacred energy, it was out of whack. I started to feel anxious-sore, like I’d been sitting there way too long. I had little prickles in my legs and an icky pain in my lower back. I tried some stretching and yoga poses, but I kept getting hurtier.

The first snuggle party was more eye-gazing. You had to look at somebody and tell him or her what your fears were, what blocked you from having a great snuggle party experience. Everything I said boiled down to “I’m nervous and I’m trying not to bolt.”  I couldn't really put whatever I was afraid of into words. The folks I ended up talking to feared being rejected or not being able to ward off unwanted affection. These seemed like very reasonable things to worry about.

After that came Kamala’s instructions about saying yes and no. You had to always ask someone before you touch him or her, and you had to say a clear yes or no. That’s part of what we were supposed to be there to practice. If you felt like something was a maybe, she said, say no, because you can always change your mind later. I’ve heard this instruction from sexperts before, but I have to admit I’ve been lazy about using it.

After that, we each had to stand up in the circle and say one thing we were a yes to and one thing we were a no to. The most frequent nos were kissing and tickling, and the most frequent yesses were massage. I said “I’m a yes to friendly and a no to sexy.” I was truly freaked out by the idea of doing anything sexual in this context. It was a clothes-on event, but still.

Next time, negotiating a three person snuggle experience. 

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