Awe is more complicated—awe as in both awful and awesome. At first, I thought about it as a thin line or a sweet-spot between awful and awesome. Now I realize that it is both at once. Where pain becomes pleasure and pleasure becomes pain, and I want and don’t want something at the same time. Where I no longer know how-to or can choose. It’s where I have to surrender or, metaphorically, die.
A ritual is a set of activities within a set of limitations that one perform repeatedly. The repetition explores what is possible within the frame, and eventually refines the ritual itself. A ceremony is different because it includes a cultural and often religious motive for performing the actions.
We are in constant motion, either away or towards, a point of focus. In reality, there are hundreds of millions of points at any given time, but our consciousness scales it down for us, to a handful few that are relevant in the current situation – to make things more manageable. The points can be anything from a physical object, or a person, to a concept, idea, or behavior. And our relationship to these points defines us. They make us who we are. Therefore, we also show ourselves when we move away or towards something, and here a language is born. From time to time, we meet others, that are also relating to their set of focus points. Sometimes we share the same points, so we move together, in a sort of dance.
Last week I was writing about BDSM and Bodywork, and now it’s time to zoom in deeper the relationship between pain and breath. First, I should start by defining breathwork. The nerve system governs our being. And depending on how our nerve system interpreted our current state, the body will react accordingly. For example, if we experience pain that we need to accept, endorphin is released. But if there is a pain that we need to fight, adrenaline is issued instead. The current chemical mix in the system will then significantly impact how we perceive the world. So the nerve system is both responsible for analyzing and altering the current state in a constant fluctuating manner.
Rope bondage is often taught as a pattern, and schooling traditionally starts with the upper body harness called the Gote, or Takata Kote. I can remember my first lessons almost fifteen years ago. It was the same back then, and I was thrilled to learn the patterns of Osada Steve. Make a knot here, friction there, pass the rope like this, and finally finish with a decoration. But something was often lost in the technicalities, that was the relationship to the person in the ropes, and the shared intimacy.
What do BDSM and bodywork have in common? As a bodyworker, I learnt early on that the body carries a story. If a client has pain in their neck and shoulders, then the pain is merely an indicator of an underlying problem. For instance, the underlying reasons for neck and shoulder pain are most often forward rotated shoulders, that are pulled by too-tight chest muscles. At first sight, the story is told in the body but with further investigation, it often leads into the mind where it becomes more personal and complicated – because the simple truths are gone. For example, shoulder pain from forward rotated shoulders can tell a story about a protected hear – but what does this mean?
It’s winter in Tokyo, and almost exactly ten years since I first came here to study bondage. One of my most notable teachers at that time was Yukinaga Max in Copenhagen and his partner Tina, and they taught me the way of Yukimura Haruki (who died 2016). Yukimura was famous for “unlocking the eros of a thousand woman”. Since I never met him, my relationship with him is that of a myth, and maybe that makes his influence on me ever stronger. I was told that he rarely tied people that he knew, or had relationships with, but always was curious about new people. One reason could be that he worked in the pornographic industry that has many girls and a few guys. And another, that he was famous so women would seek him out to open up their dark, forbidden eros. He was Bakushi.
Being alone for a long time opens up space for thinking. Here is a musing from my isolation in Japan.
Surprisingly to many rope bondage is unfolding in the spiritual community. From the lush jungles around Ubud to sandy beaches of Koh Phanang, to bohemian clubs of Berlin, and shamanistic circles in cold Scandinavia. How has it come to that practice from the Japanese BDSM-subculture is growing from a tiny seed into an everyday spiritual practice?
In this workshop, we will move from the physical to the emotional, on a journey through pain and predicaments. I believe that many people start as physical sadists and masochists because it is safer to play with the body than the mind, but eventually, we are all curious to see what happens when we start to mess with our ego and pride. In one way, the main focus of this workshop is trust – how to embody it and move with it. Our primary tool will is rope bondage because it is versatile and comes with a long legacy of shame play while providing the opportunity to challenge the body significantly.
In this workshop, the focus is the perverted desire of rope bondage, rather than engineering a technical experience. We will explore ties and theories that help the rigger to express this perverted desire on a journey through the darker path of eroticism. We will go into objectification, exposure, shame-play, forced serving and taking pleasure from our bottom, to step beyond merely emphatically following along on bottoms journey. The rope bondage then becomes the essential tool to motivate and manipulate the bottom through both pain and pleasure, so they remain curious about going down the rabbit hole of the riggers desire.
I’ve recently been reading this newer book by Peter A. Levine on “how the body releases trauma and restores goodness.”. It feels like a follow-up on one of my previous favourite books of his, Walking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, as it goes deeper into how the body, mind and spirit interrelate. To put into perspective, I see Peter A. Levine’s work as groundbreaking because he bridges the science of the brain with knowledge of a bodyworker. Compared to another of my heroes, Judith Lewis Herman, whom more or less defined the concept of PTSD, that focuses on how to work with trauma in various forms of talk-based therapies.