House of Togetherness is a unique and somewhat risqué pop-up home of intimacy and connection in Covent Garden. Classes include everything from Mass Spooning circles to an Intimacy Safari, Self-Love Clinic and Genitalia Cupcake Design. Founder Adam Wilder talks us through what to expect from this year’s line up…
What is an intimacy coach?
Someone who supports you to feel free, fierce, whole, alive and loving in all your relationships. People come for different reasons, there can be specific issues in existing relationships or barriers that keep coming up with people or in everyday life. Intimacy is about how much of yourself you can be with someone else.
As we grow up we learn strategies (usually unconscious) to protect ourselves from being hurt. We learn to edit ourselves to fit in, to be accepted, to avoid rejection. We develop a gap between what we actually think and feel and desire and how we show up to others. Whilst these can be genius and useful, sometimes these also prevent us from having meaningful connection to others. They can make it harder to have rich contact with friends, family, lovers and ourselves.
So we can be surrounded by people and still feel isolated. An intimacy coach helps you enter a state of presence and contact with others so that you show up with all of yourself. You are not afraid of saying what you think or what you want (and you can choose when to do so). You learn to accept and embrace all of yourself so that others can meet and love all of you – even the bits you think are not loveable.
What inspired you to become one?
I encounter people all the time who are unhappy pretending to be someone they are not. And really no-one has ever said to them there’s no need to live like that.
When I was younger that is exactly what I was like, disconnected from myself. I would bend and shape myself to be accepted into friend circles only to realise later that I didn’t even like these people. It sent me on a long journey to discover myself and how I fit in the world. And it gave me deep insight into what happens when we disconnect from ourselves.
Now its my joy to support others in stepping into their personal sovereignty, to enriching the quality of contact they have with themselves and others. I know this subject intimately.
Why did you set up House of Togetherness?
Disconnection is the biggest social problem of our time yet there is nowhere serving it. You can go to the gym, go to yoga, go on retreats but none of these deal with the deep underlying need for meaningful connection. Most of the time you hardly speak to others let alone make eye contact in these places.
I wanted to create a place where quality of connection is the priority, where you can come and learn and play, explore themes around self expression, sovereignty, communication, sexuality. And I wanted it to be a place where we can really meet beyond identities, labels, politics, beliefs. Labels can be useful and good and I don’t want to take anything away from someone who finds it helpful, but they can only get us so far. Ultimately they can feed the polarisation we see going on around us.
So the idea is, create this new paradigm place, where people come and learn to be more whole, then when they go out into the world there will be less polarisation, less misunderstanding. People can take this idea that they are allowed to be themselves and to express themselves fully. There is a cultural shift happening already towards meaning, towards true connection. I want the house to be part of that shift.
Why do you think social taboos exist around intimacy in Britain?
It’s down to our culture and education which means most of us arrive into adulthood not knowing who we are, what we want or how to communicate it.
We grow up under a pile of shoulds and musts, most of which are not useful. We inherit the fear of social shame of our parents, which can lead us to enduring harm rather than facing an ‘awkward’ moment.
I’ve had clients who have one night stands and feel awful after because deep down their need is for touch, for cuddles, for nurture and they didn’t know how to express it.
To be intimate you have to be vulnerable, you have to take a risk. And we build our whole personality around avoiding vulnerability so even the thought of doing it can be deeply triggering for others.
Tell us what we can expect from Mass Spooning circles, Rage Club, and ‘How Not To F**k Up Your Kids’ classes?
You will meet new people, experience great guidance and leave feeling full of life. With the spooning we look at the health benefits of platonic touch and communication. Then for those who want, there’s a mass spoon (catch us at the Togetherness tent at Wilderness festival this year where we will try to break the world mass spooning record).
Rage club is about exploring your relationship to anger. Think red lights, thrash metal and a sense of feeling healthy power. And at the parenting classes you will meet people who want to resolve some of their own childhood and to bring up their own children to be able to make healthy relationships. They are led by Kitty Hagenbach.
What’s the thinking behind the Genitalia Cupcake Design class?
It’s a fun way to break some taboos, get some sex ed and go home with a delicious box of cupcakes all at the same time! Lots of us learn what genitals look like from porn so we have an idealised view. If ours look different (and 99% do) it can feel awkward. At this experience we get to make different shaped genitals and hear fun facts about human (and animal genitals), normalising all our wonderful genitalia.
What can we expect from the festival?
4 days of party and exploration with 300 people at a country manor in Dorset. Its an alcohol free event and our guests come from all sexualities and relationship types. Full permission to let loose and be who you really are at the UV Underwear Dance Party, face your fear in the Fire Walk, feast, party and chill in the beautiful grounds. Not to mention intimacy jams, Wim Hoff Icebaths, hot tubs, sauna, wood cabins, fire side storytelling, body printing. There’s more than 30 experiences to take part in plus we put you in a pod with others to chat to everyday and create your own little family for the festival. There’s experiences for you to do by yourself, with a partner, evening rituals, night walks.
What are tips you can give for breaking down intimacy barriers in day to day life?
Start by noticing the people around you, sometimes a smile with someone who made eye contact with you can transform both your days. Say hi to the bus driver, the checkout person etc.
Spend 5 minutes feeling up an object with your hands. Can be anything, a key, a glasses case, a credit card. Sit back somewhere comfortable, close your eyes and just slowly draw your fingers and hands across it, explore how much pleasure you can give yourself from a simple object.
Notice when you feel like your boundaries are crossed in your everyday life. Start to set limits in a way that is loving for yourself. Talk to a friend about it after.
What does healthy hedonism mean to you?
Getting in touch with your actual desires and aligning yourself to the direction of your joy whilst being sensitive and respectful of others. Sometimes simply the act of getting in touch with and expressing your longing can be joyful.
Stay Sovereign Baby! Being sovereign is all about knowing your own boundaries, being authentic and making your own meaning from every single experience. It’s daring to be independent, to know your own needs but also how to meet others and respect their needs too.
It’s about being unapologetically yourself, to explore, play and create without expectations of how we’ve been unconsciously wired to think it “should” be.
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