It was with some excitement and a bit of fear that I decided for the first-time last year to get tied by a man I didn’t know anything about, and by taking part of his personal art project. Mr. A had been practicing the art of Japanese ropes for years and pushed his passion to the point of proposing rope therapy sessions for people willing to explore surrender, stillness, and healing.
I felt a bit fearful about taking the leap because I am very dominant sexually and was wondering what it would be like to get immobilized by someone with total control over me. Moreover, for the sake of his art project, the session would be recorded on a camera, and leaving traces of what could happen made me a tiny bit nervous. The main purpose of his project was to capture emotions created by a rope session between two total strangers. I thought it was quite cool though.
The moment I met him, I had right away a good feeling by appreciating his calmness and awareness, and didn’t have any problem in trusting him for proceeding with our experiment. I also felt his strong experience with ropes by witnessing the way he was manipulating them with precision and softness. I started to feel the pressure of the ropes around my upper body, with my arms locked behind my back. The session not only consisted in getting softly tight in various positions, but also to feel hold by Mr. A’ body. There weren’t any sexual vibes from my side, but a warm brotherly presence around me. It was interesting to completely surrender to Mr. A’s will, and to let go of any control from my part. Something interesting happened when I felt the pressure of his hand on my throat. I got in touch with a strong sadness and started to cry. I couldn’t remember any situation from my past in which I consciously cried in front of someone. Pretty fucked-up to have been so much emotionally shut down for so long if you ask me. It was actually a great moment of intense inner peace and calmness, feeling some tears flowing on my cheeks, and gazing gently at trees outside, my mind completely thought-free. After the session, I stayed for several hours in a very relaxed state.
And I recently decided to have a proper session with him again. My main intention was to tap again into past and repressed sadness. Since in the first session I had allowed my over-controlling mind to drop its guard and connect with deep primal emotions, I was looking for diving a bit deeper this time. This second session was much more intense, with more advanced ties, and even some light suspensions. Pressure on suspension points might be pretty intense to sustain, sometimes quite painful and uncomfortable on the long run. Mr. A was doing whatever he wanted with my body, and pushing my limbs beyond their usual fields of action. At some points, sustaining suspension was quite demanding physically, and my breath started to significantly speed up. When I tried to adjust too frequently my body to resist the pain, Mr. A completely blocked my arm with some heavier pressure in an attempt to force me to completely surrender. While completely immobilized, I had strange visions of being mummified.
The outcomes of this second session were completely different. I ended up being slightly tense and with mixed feelings about my experience. Most likely because I might have actually spent most of my time resisting the discomfort of the ties instead of totally surrendering to the experience. My mind wasn’t totally ready to accept and embrace the pain, and with resistance comes muscular tension.
And indeed, Mr. A told me after the session that I had spent most of my time optimizing and adjusting my body. We live in a world in which we are all the time seeking for comfort, and are not used anymore to embrace discomfort, he added. An interesting thought indeed, considering all technologies at our disposal nowadays to keep ourselves in our physical comfort zone. For instance, not so long time ago, we were much more exposed to cold, and were perhaps simply more mentally trained to fully accept the temporary and transiant adversity of the present moment, with less resistance. And I wouldn’t be surprised if such an intolerance to physical adversity wouldn’t be at our detriment when it comes to emotional pain management as well. We might be much less resilient to discomfort than we were used to, because we might have started to take for granted the physical comfort of our daily modern lives. And resisting is part of suffering.
As a man, learning to befriend discomfort is crucial for growth. For instance, you have to learn to accept your fears of rejection when cold approaching and sexually escalating with women. When you’re delivering a public speech. When you are negotiating your salary with your boss, when you take on new big responsibilities at work. Or when you freely speak up your opinions and needs, not knowing what will be the outcomes.
In that respect, I believe that cold water exposure is actually a great tool to train your brain to embrace discomfort. The practice consists in sustaining a relaxed state while your body is under pressure. Which is basically similar to many meditation practices with the goal to simply stay with whatever comes to your mind and body.
Finally, from an archetypal perspective, the masculine is always on the move and leading the way towards clear directions. The embodiment of these traits takes a lot of energy for us men. It is therefore important for now and then to completely let go of control and experience complete surrender. It is about acknowledging the need to reach an inner state of relaxation during which our nervous system can find more balance and recover until our next move. In that respect, I believe that practicing ropes could be a great tool as well.