Interview with Eesti Nainee (2023)

Over the past years, my curiosity has always driven me more towards the east than the west. I’ve been teaching in Estonia for more than five years and have formed many strong friendships during this time. One of them is with Heidi Hanso, who is an influencer, TV show host and journalist. So I was happy when she asked if I wanted to be interviewed for Estonia’s biggest women’s magazine, Eesti Nainee. The original article is in Estonian, so this is a very rough translation by Google Translate in collaboration with Grammarly. For the interview, we also made a photoshoot with Olavi Sõna, but I’ll post those pictures later. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this insight into everyday Estonian life and how my work is being presented there.

“When playing with power and submission in practice, it comes down to boundaries, awareness, and consent”, emphasizes Swede Andy Buru, a teacher of BDSM and the Japanese art of shibari.

Growing out of the art of warfare, the shibari beautifully and powerfully represents the need to give up control and surrender, even for a moment – to the present, fragility, and beauty. Surrender is not giving up; it is trusting – yourself, your partner, the present moment and life. When was the last time you let go of everything and surrendered control?

I’m meeting Andy Buru after a four-day exciting self-discovery of the power dynamics retreat – where we agreed on the interview and photo shoot. The depth shared in the experience is nowhere to be found gone. Andy has dealt with different aspects of conscious sexuality for 20 years. He feels free, so heart-opening and soft, doing tantric practices as well as binding someone tightly while knowingly musing about power and submission. The Swede has a lot of experience with more unexpected tools: he can perform tea ceremonies, organize amazing improvisational parties and, as a certified therapist, give a therapeutic massage. Andy’s website is full of enjoyable texts and photos that lead thoughts to an exciting person on the journey of being.

Three times a year, for the sixth year in a row, he is found in Estonia giving multi-day retreats and teaching in summer tantric self-development festivals.

What is BDSM? BDSM stands for Bondage, Domination, Submission and Sadomasochism, which includes erotic play with fantasies and kinks. A common misunderstanding about BDSM is based on video material on adult websites, where the actors wear black leather or tight latex suits, in hand whips-masks and aim for forceful penetration, which is just from the taboo world of reptiles. However, the expert states that by consciously delving into sexuality and by exploring the techniques of power and submission, life is possible for almost everyone to change at many levels: work through traumas, learn more about yourself, be a better parent or husband, and understand what is happening in the world.

In taboo and emotionally challenging practices, one must create a safe environment to discover one’s limits consciously. In a physically and emotionally safe space, you can relax and trust each other and adhere to agreements. What if many of us in everyday life could experience such security? I think to myself. He first explains in the retreat that I am not your guru. If you feel you don’t want to do some exercise, then that’s okay. On the contrary, it’s a big deal when you find out something is not your topic and learn to set boundaries.

We discuss relating at home, all to mutual communication, on how much the partners trust each other. When developing a relationship, you can get inspiration from the world of BDSM, which I know now from his retreat. The more experience the interested parties get, the more specific their relationship becomes. It can go deep in dozens of ways for a partner to provide pleasure. What if I wasn’t afraid of markings on my delicate skin anymore, and I would enjoy them instead?

“Although not everyone dares to admit it, many practices a few swings while playing in bed. Even a refreshing butt slap or a passionate clawing.”

Andy laughs when asked how many closet-gifters are walking around in our midst.

It is essential to experience pleasure as both receiver and giver. If not at once, then alternately. And again, by agreement. Both expectations and fears should be discussed and clearly stated where the limit goes. In the absence of consent, it is no longer about BDSM but exploiting a position of power.

“Our society is structured so that all life is competition and only one can be the winner at once. If you’re not the best, you are a loser. But in BDSM, you agree, are you a submissive or a dominant, and you can, with full confidence, explore this very aspect. You do not have to worry about if someone is threatening your position.”

Andy explains that both roles are enjoyable for both men and women. But, paradoxically, the submissive, who in the ordinary world is the loser, subtly leads the game in BDSM practices. Even if the submissive is gagged and in chains.

“It is entirely expected that we want to run away from pain. Evolution has taken care of that. When we beat ourselves up somewhere, we shrink back. In case of danger, we run away. When we get into a fight, we fight back. In the body, adrenaline arises, and the survival mechanism is triggered: we either shut down, fight or flee. But suppose the body experiences pain slowly when you permit yourself to experience pain. In that case, the body can start releasing endorphins to produce to help the body cope with the sensation.”

“Even biting can be enjoyable if you do it for a long time and in certain places, especially when combined with a sensual touch. The rookie mistake is that they are in a hurry. The goal is to keep a steady pressure on the body for a long time to release endorphins.”

Andy has seen everything in his work, as most participants have grown up with entirely heteronormative sexuality.

“For example, many men who come to my retreats or end up in private sessions are performance-oriented towards external success. They must have a good job, an expensive car, a nice house and a beautiful, well-groomed woman so that others can see the man’s success. But often they don’t know at all what they like. If such a man is deliberately taught how to dominate, he can focus on his needs, which can be a healing experience. And imagine if you surrender to this, you can’t do anything or be responsible for something. And you are loved and accepted as you are.”

Andy states a funny fact that if the course name contains the word power more men probably register themselves, but with the word surrender, more women will come.

“Two types of women follow my work. The successful ones, in the eyes of others, so to speak, are masculine women in a masculine world. They go to work, raise children and keep themselves in society to prove themselves. But, on the other hand, busy women want to let go. They wish to rest from the burden of responsibility.”

He’s talking about me, and I laugh listening to this fascinating man, but I will add that I was driven to BDSM also to explore the desire to work through one painful life experience. At the same time, confronting and fighting against it did not give a result. Instead, surrendering gave me new wings.

“But some women are in a more modest position in society. They want to be noticed. They want to feel that the focus is on their sexuality and desires. Sometimes it turns out that a woman with a reserved nature never experienced orgasms because she has been the object of satisfying a man’s desires. Now, to explore sexuality by settling, the woman can consciously focus on herself.”

“I recently read a study that even 7% of people fantasize about BDSM even before the beginning of an active sex life. Also, I belong to them: to me, like long before I was a teenager, I examined images of captured and arrested related people. It seemed exciting to me. When I got older, I realized I wanted erotic bondage, and I started researching the topic.”

“The fantasy to be bound during intercourse is among the most frequent. Recently an American study showed that more than half of the respondents have fantasized about it. Of course, it doesn’t have to use special shibari ropes. However, overestimating bonding skills may involve serious health risks, so when starting to practice shibari, you should complete some courses first.”

After the interview, I’ll take Andy to the harbour, where he will head home to Sweden. After that, Andy will soon fly to Japan for a couple of months of solitude to write his first book on the beauty and joy of conscious suffering.