Living on the Edge: Self Suspension

Living on the Edge: Self Suspension


Of all the things I’ve done in my life, the activity that has pushed me the most is my rope self suspension. By pushing me, I mean it’s given me an avenue to try new things and experience the most intense sensations. It affects every part of my being: mind, body and soul. It’s a very elevating transcendental undertaking that always leaves me wiped out physically and emotionally.


But, why, you may ask?


I regularly rig others with my rope. I’m very fortunate to have those opportunities and such a varied group of friends to tie with. That process is hard work physically, because I’m continually moving around and lifting. Emotionally, I create a close connection with whomsoever I’m tying, as acutely tuned in to their responses to what I’m doing to them as possible. I experience “the flow”, a psychological phenomenon where I feel a tunnel like focus on the partner I’m with. Time is distorted, senses heightened for us both, yet grounded to our agreed, consented to tie.


It’s been some time since I let someone tie me. It’s not something I crave – handing over control to someone else isn’t something I particularly enjoy. In those limited experiences, and from working with others, I know that the work of a rope bottom is tough. They have to know that the person they’re trusting has their best interest at heart. They need to be physically and mentally fit to go through the process they’ve negotiated. They need to be highly self aware of their physiological responses and how they feel emotionally to what’s going on, and whether those things are ok for them. Communication needs to be on point.


In suspension, a rope bottom is placing themselves in a far greater risk, so the process is more serious and therefore more profound. The consequences are nothing easy to behold for the average, untrained person. They are truly wonderful people, in this respect.


However, when you self suspend, it’s like taking these two totally different beasts and merging them together. Say a tiger and a bee. Both beautiful and awe inspiring by their very nature in their own right, though vastly different. Put them together and you have something completely unique. That’s how I feel about self suspension.


Here’s what it means to me:

  1. I have to trust my tying skills. When you’re tying someone else, you can move them/yourself around and double check each wrap and knot. When I’m tying myself, I rely more on the feel of the tie in my hands. It’s a kinesthetic way to tie.
  2. My rigging skills have develop far more quickly by self tying. It’s enabled me to explore complex ties, particularly in the air, where I may not have had the opportunity to do so with my partner’s that are in their own rope journeys that I’m accompanying them on.
  3. I experience the flow, but it’s not the same. I’m tying myself. I have my mind on my tying and the feel of the tie. It’s like a double edged sword, each wrap and knot creating a twin sensation.
  4. I experience a subspace, I let myself go in my rope. I dangle like a cocoon on a branch, wrapped and swaying in the tie. But I don’t switch off completely, I have to look after myself in my rope.
  5. I’m completely free and independent. These things are deeply important to me. I do as I choose, I embrace each moment, swimming in the lake of emotions and physical labour I put myself through. Only I exist in that tie, only I matter. I feel very alive.
  6. In the sport I do, I do so on my own too, because it’s where I feel secure and able to try new things. My rope is an extension of that, and yet I can be decorative with it – cute knots, but also dancing in the air creating shapes with my strengthened and flexible body.
  7. I’m responsible for the whole journey. From planning, to preparing my body and gear, to the tie and after care – I look after me. I leave the process, normally with some photos to look back on and possibly share, deeply fulfilled and satisfied in my achievements.
  8. It has allowed me to appreciate both sides of partnered ties more intimately. I’m move safe as a rigger because I’ve done virtually all ties I’ve done to others on myself first. I “get” it. I like to think so anyway.
  9. The chemical rushes from tying and being tied at the same time are increased and totally sublime – endorphins, adrenaline and dopamine. I’m responsible for the cause and reaction.

I’m sure there are other things that are similar to other people, but to me self suspension is by far the most intense experience I’ve ever had. And I love it.

Disclaimer: Do not try self suspension without attending classes and workshops and learning all the safety risks you are undertaking. Rope is edge play. Self Suspension is right at the far edge of that edge! Get informed and play safe.

Image: self tie.

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