Search has been a tad buggy as the site gets re-indexed. I’m pretty sure this is another post that’s been sitting around for a while (6 months or so).
Keep in mind I’ve had only limited experience with these events filtered through my own perspective. Your experiences may differ due to the hosts, who you are, mood, others who are there, etc. Both are worth trying.
Eye gazing party -e.g., http://www.eyegazingparties.com
The one I attended provided two minutes of gazing, round robin style, with roughly 20 people of the opposite sex. Everyone gazed with everyone in sequence while seated. Men moved. Women stayed put. One does not touch. One sits on chairs with several inches between partners’ knees. There was background music. I would have preferred silence and better lighting. There was a mixer before and after the gazing. To my surprise, some people just disappeared afterwards. I used the time to get feedback and feel out what people thought of the experience. The feedback was as valuable as the gazing itself and I got a better sense of who might come to this and why. There are not enough such events.
Cuddle party - e.g., http://www.cuddleparty.com
This was a roughly three hour event that began with an introduction and ground rules. The rules were largely common sense. I found it interesting that needed a rule to set clear boundaries or ask to touch and await a verbal yes. Apparently, people have a hard time saying no. They stress maybe means no. They start with practice saying no to questions like "May I kiss you" and “Would you liked to be kissed?” Kissing is a gray area at these events and rarely happens. There is a one-on-one discussion with another person (can be same or mixed sex) about which rule resonates strongest. Then a group game where others ask you anything they want and you say no, followed by the same game and you saying yes. The idea is to feel and get comfortable with yes and no as acceptable choices. Nothing spoken about is acted upon in any of the games. They also stress that if one has a real-life partner, there should be clear rules established beforehand about what cuddling is ok at this event. People remain fully clothed in more or less long pajamas. All touch requested or offered must be must be verbally agreed to.
I liked that they offered the option to leave after the intro if it wasn’t for you and get your money back. I don’t recall that being offered at any other events I’ve attended.
Their communication standard seemed less than ideal because in real life it might be better to say roughly “I’d like to kiss you. Would you like to receive that?” That expresses desire and recognizes the other’s choice. I get that it was a quick game. If people need real practice, then make it real and fully expressive. It was scripted and from training literature. Perhaps a revision is needed.
The cuddle party seemed to promote consumerist touch. Sure, it wasn't sexual. But, it was also without meaning. It was touch for the sake of touch without intent. It was a short-circuit way to get oxytocin. But there is always intent of some sort and here it seemed the goal was the intent to touch and get the good feelings. It seemed goal oriented. It didn't seem that different than going to a bar seeking sex or even using porn (ok, perhaps a bit harsh). It left me feeling agitated and unsatisfied in some sense. I’m open to trying again and might change my opinions. People’s minds seemed to drift indicating they weren’t fully there or engaged. There was plenty distracting chatter. I sensed people were at times uncomfortable and drained.
At both events I heard things one might hear mentioned here. However, many people where not well informed and some seemed to have some confusion (maybe I’m among them). Neither event type is a cure-all or likely to instantly change one’s life views.
Overall, I preferred the eye gazing to the cuddle party experience. The cuddle party should not end so abruptly. I stayed a little later to chat. It was mostly get a fix, perhaps chat, and go. People seemed to be having deeper than normal conversations after the eye gazing than after/during the cuddling. Eye contact is a more useful skill in some ways and one that several men and women here have said is hard to do without feeling too seen. The Richardsons in Tantric Love: Feeling Versus Emotion speak of difficulty with eye contact as a symptom of emotional blockage. Even if one isn’t blocked in any way, it is good to have practice with feeling while gazing and detecting emotional issues with the eyes. This was a nice non-verbal way to be seen. Women seemed to have more trouble and fidget more. Some mentioned this to me afterwards. Men seemed more serious about it and willing to fully engage according to some of the female comments. Don’t put yourselves down guys. We can hold our own with the women.
I felt one could readily make a solid friend through the gazing event. I’m much less sure about the cuddle party. The gazing was fully egalitarian and about deep linking. Even the people that came with a friend in tow had to rough it one-on-one in gazing for about 40 minutes. The cuddle party inevitably leads to ranking as it is not realistic to cuddle equally with everyone. It can be distracting processing others’ cuddling. The gazing triggered subtler emotions and stretched the senses. We are much more sensitive than we think. Interesting and somewhat amazing things happen with different pairs. . . mirroring, sending and receiving, energy exchange, blinking, smiling, laughing, heart rate changes, body movements, breathing, etc. In comparison, cuddling was a bit intense and somewhat boring.
I’ll try to answer questions or feel free to PM me.