MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A growing number of people in the Twin Cities are finding great comfort in Cuddle Parties. It's a monthly meet-up to better explore communication and boundaries, and yes to touch.
On a bitterly cold Minneapolis night bedding sprawled across the floor warms a living room.
"People sometimes say, 'Why would I want to go and cuddle with a bunch of people I don't even know?'" Candessa Hadsall said.
Hadsall is the facilitator for Minneapolis' Cuddle Party Chapter.
"This is not a dating service. This is not a place people come to meet your life partner," she told the group. "There are rules for how you are to behave in a Cuddle Party."
Asking permission to touch, she said, is the most important of all.
"I'd like you to know, for tonight 'No' is a complete sentence," Hadsall said.
Hadsall is a registered nurse. She's spent her career counseling sexual assault victims and chemical dependency patients, serving as a cuddle party facilitator for more than a year.
"When I found out that it really was a workshop, that people really came and learned something, I thought, 'Wow, that's something that I want to do,'" Hadsall said.
Hadsall believes there are benefits in life to learning to ask for what you want and saying no to what you don't. Those are lessons, along with the power of human touch, that science supports.
"It's really hard to explain the experience until people have had it," Hadsall said.
Cuddling releases oxytocin, our feel-good hormone made in the brain, reducing blood pressure and stress.
As a massage therapist, Thomas Stout signed up to get back just some of what he gives each day.
"All that oxytocin stuff she talks about is true. It feels great," Stout said. "Personally, I think everybody really wants touch. Everybody wants to be held. It's just a human need that we all have."
Two hours in, they settle into what they call the silverware drawer; tangled up with those they've only just met.
So, what does Hadsell say to those who think this is all too weird?
"Well, I actually I get that a lot," she said.
Hadsall knows this won't be for everyone but is confident of a transformation for anyone willing to embrace it.
"There's something about hearts connecting. I think society makes it all sexual but it's just lovely to drop in and just breathe together," Stout said.
For more information about Minneapolis' Cuddle Party Chapter, visit Nurture Yourself online.
for more features.