Randy Ralston from Cuddle Party Ireland kindly agreed to an interview with me.
A cuddle is when a person holds you close in their arms, puts their arms around a person's neck or back and did you know that when you cuddle the "cuddle hormone" called Oxytocin is released.
What is Cuddle Party Ireland?
Cuddle Party Ireland (a.k.a. Irish Cuddle Salon) is a local manifestation of the worldwide ‘Cuddle’ movement.
We exist to facilitate regular, organised gatherings and opportunities for people to experience consensual, mindful, non-sexual touch and affection in a welcoming, safe, nurturing, obligation-free environment!
We are the first and longest-running Cuddle community in Ireland.
When and why was it established?
Though touch is natural, the skills that make it welcome and enjoyable have to be learned.
Originally, I intended for these events to simply be an entry point to positive, healing touch for those who might not have the self-confidence or feel comfortable to engage in other ways.
I was hoping to get exposed to more potential clients for the other (somatic sexology) work I do.
But, after seeing the truly amazing, transformative experiences people have - every time - at a Cuddle Salon, I now do them simply because they are wonderful, it is very rewarding.
There is a real need for people to connect in this way.
I began hosting regular cuddle parties in Ireland in early 2015.
What do the workshops/playshops consist of?
Our monthly events are about 3.5 hours in duration.
The ‘workshop’ portions are very fun so we sometimes call them ‘playshops’.
At a Cuddle Party, the first hour or so of our time together is spend discussing and practicing the rules of how we engage with each other.
We have a series of short, interactive exercises that allow everyone to practice things like verbal consent, asking for what you want, setting boundaries, saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ easily and clearly, and exploring non-sexual conscious touch. We do this in an easy, gentle, light-hearted and fun way.
People attending gain a level of comfort and familiarity with each other and a degree of increased self-confidence such that by the time we open the rest of the day up to free-form snuggling (and back/foot rubs, etc), people feel empowered and safe.
It is important to note that nobody is required to touch or be touched by anyone at any time.
Every person is entirely in choice about how and with whom they interact - if at all.
Some people come just to chat with other warm hearted people because it’s lovely!
How can you guarantee that the session with be 100% non-sexual?
The first rule of Cuddle Party is that clothes remain on the whole time.
We ask people to wear comfortable, non-binding clothing that is comfy, not sexy. People are also empowered, through the rules and exercises, to take care of themselves by setting and communicating boundaries, or to ask for assistance from a facilitator or assistant if necessary.
We all take care of each other and the facilitator and assistant monitor the group the whole time to ensure things are running smoothly.
Anyone not abiding to the agreed-upon rules will be asked to leave (we have never had to do this, people are generally very kind and respectful).
You have experienced facilitators who are professionally trained and certified in Human Touch and Intimate Relating, What does each of those consist of?
Randy Ralston, you have a Californian State Certificate in Sexological Bodywork and a UK Certificate in Somatic Sex, What do both of those entail?
In addition to being a Certified Cuddle Party Facilitator, I hold a California state-approved certification in Sexological Bodywork (Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality) and a UK certification in Somatic Sex Education (Institute of Somatic Sexology). Separately to Cuddle Parties, I offer safe, customised, individual, experiential learning opportunities for private clients to consciously access sensual/erotic states without shame, guilt, or judgement.
It is a form of somatic education - learning about the body through the body. The coaching and teaching involves a variety of instructive modalities, helping people to discover what is possible with their own bodies.
I teach and touch in ways that assist students in developing presence within the body, opening interior awareness, and learning how their body can feel more and more alive.
I teach people how to let more pleasure into their lives and how to be their erotic best.
I also provide relationship coaching and have run a monthly discussion group in Dublin for the past 8+ years ( http://www.meetup.com/Polyamory-Ireland/ )
I have learned through professional experience and extensive training how to help people touch and be touched, how to be aware of their bodies and boundaries, and how to effectively communicate their authentic desires to other people.
I wish to see everyone feel a sense of freedom and love their lives to the full.
In 2015 you were listed in the Irish Times as number 1 in the top 30 people to bring positivity to the Irish Community through work.
How did you achieve this?
I believe all people should be free to experience pleasure in their lives without shame/guilt/fear/judgement or external conditioning.
I am committed to this at a deep level - for example, I never turn anyone away from a Cuddle Party for lack of funds, I feel it is that important.
It is warming to know that some people are beginning to notice and appreciate my efforts but I am not doing it for the recognition.
If readers are interested in taking part in a Cuddle Party, Workshops/Playshops or Private Individual Cuddling Sessions how can they get in touch?
Interested people can join our Meetup group here:http://www.meetup.com/Cuddle-Party-Ireland/
They may also like/join our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/CuddlePartyIreland/
Or they may email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org