Don’t Endure Anymore

Often when people come to me for private rope sessions, they express an interest in suspensions. The ideas about it are many; it can be ‘ultimate surrender’, defeating gravity, or flying. Maybe the peaceful faces often seen in bondage pictures are alluring—the beautiful suffering that Japanese bondage has made almost iconic. But, in reality, hanging in ropes is both a physical and emotional challenge. I believe there are two fundamental ways to handle hardship, generally in life, and particularly in bondage.

Fighting is one way. Aggression, change and action are other words for it. I think it’s healthy to have access to one’s anger as long as the reaction is proportional to the challenge. There is an accepted norm for fighting in our society, like being competitive in business, sports, and computer games. In my hectic career life, I learned to disconnect from vulnerability and build armour for battle. I remember some stressful periods commuting to work in the morning with only a few hours of sleep. Being angry at people bumping into me while drinking my coffee on the subway was a valid tactic to raise my stress level and ready myself to face the day’s challenges. My heartbeat increased, and my muscles tensed. Ready to fight. I adapted many techniques to function in this stressful environment, like working out rigorously, meditating and having a healthy diet. Anyone successful in the rat race would do the same.

Accepting, Instead of Fighting a Challenge

The other way is through acceptance of things as they are. Rope suspensions are more about accepting and less about changing, I believe. Of course, there is a greyscale, so even when not fighting the challenge, one might still tense their core to protect the spine, for example. My experience, however, is that many people are better at changing than accepting, at least if they are new to rope bondage. So their experience becomes more about endurance than surrender. I remember a dancer that I used to tie. She loved being in the ropes as the restrictions forced her to discover new ways of moving. She was constantly overcoming the challenge and doing so beautifully. But she never really surrendered and forever remained in control. One night, I decided to tie her so she couldn’t move at all. Entirely restricted, she became utterly dependent on me. And she hated it.

So when beginners come to me seeking rope suspensions, they often face a significant challenge. Instead of surrendering and accepting, they tend to focus on fighting and enduring. This experience, however, can be a valuable lesson in itself. For instance, a man once shared a military breathing technique he used to fight the pain. I couldn’t help but wonder why he didn’t just allow himself to cry. When I ask people what part of the session was the most transformative, they almost always mention the start and end when things were softer, and they could surrender and mourn their suffering. This experience can be a precious gift, particularly for someone who is ‘good at fighting,’ as it offers another path of acceptance and sweet surrender.