My friend Michael is making an app called reLove that acts as a first point of contact for people curious about conscious relating, intimacy and embodiment. He asked me make a short introduction to practicing surrender – so here is my take on it. I hope you enjoy it.
BBC recently released their short documentary about me and my therapeutic rope bondage, and that led to a bunch of question around the subject of power, abuse and therapy. Being the victim of abuse is having ones power taken away. If the abuse is repetitive, the victim usually normalizes the behaviour, hence taking it for granted to have their power taken away. The result is generally that the person feels powerless and is unable to maintain healthy boundaries to people around them. It is like something has been taken away from them—a part of their spirit. But they are often unable to put the finger on it, as the traumatized state is the new normal. So why can rope bondage help, and what do I think is the keys to success?
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.
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.
Then you are most likely tensed in your body too.
Many session first-timers tell me that they are nervous. Usually, it was excitement that turned into nervousness as they approached the session. The bodily response to nervousness and enthusiasm are more or less the same. The heart rate rises, first sweat occurs, and the muscle starts to tense. Your nerve system is activated or aroused in biological terms. The interpretation of the experience happens later in your head — anyhow enough nerdiness about the biochemistry of the human body.
A recurring client suggested that I should offer a combined session, half massage and half rope. To first massage the body to help it relax and then use bondage to let the mind to surrender. So far, I’ve shared a cup of tea and some small talk with first-timers to help them land in the room, feel safe, and trust me. However, massage let you feel how my body interacts with your body, and that is closer to rope bondage than tea and small talk. Because ultimately a bodywork session is more a meeting between two bodies in motion, and two nerve systems that develop a non-verbal language together. Starting this way will help your nervousness and body tension to melt away.
We gave it a go, and it was a success. So now I offer the combo session for everyone.
The best book I’ve read on the subject of trauma is by far Judith Hermans Trauma and Recovery – The Aftermath of Violence, From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. In this writing I would like to reflect upon parts of the content from a BDSM and consent perspective.