Recently a very lovely client wrote into the Mankind Project to tell them his story in relation to sessions with me, and it was just printed in the Autumn/Winter 2012 magazine. The Mankind Project is an international organisation I have been interested in for a while, they run programs to help men find empowerment in their masculinity, or as they say ‘The purpose of MKP is to create a safer world by growing “better” men’. I’ve thought for a while that there is crossover in their work and mine, although we come at it from quite different angles (this being a men only organisation and me being somewhat female), I am proud to have been featured in this magazine, and proud to have helped someone else on his journey.
I’ve written the article out in full below, it’s very well thought through and quite interesting, I recommend giving it a read.
To my fellow men of MKP, I want to share something that I consider edgy but relevant.
But first…Another matter. To me the irony of the men’s movement is that it can attract men who are not particularly masculine. I have wholehearted faith in the power of inner work, however it is my belief that this aside, there are a few things that would teach you all about being a man if you were to just do them:
And now…back to the “edgy but relevant” …recently I spent time with a dominatrix.
How does this relate to the thoughts above about sex, sparring, physical demands and fear? Sexual tension aside, sex was not on offer. But what underscores this experience is the physical and mental challenge of facing the unknown, fear, pain, and confrontation. And they can all be present in this practice. As they often are on the carpet…
Despite your likely preconceptions, her brand of “conscious kink” is probably more akin to Tantra than what you consider possible. Perhaps you have images of skin caned to the point of bleeding, or some invasive instrument applied by a vindictive and demeaning sadist, who is both verbally and physically bullying. Or that the experience is dehumanizing and degrading. Not a bit of it. Not in this case.
Indeed it could be quite the opposite. Were you to try it, you may be surprised by eye-gazing or a steady, reassuring touch. Or to find a “Warrior Initiation” on offer, a rite of passage experience tailored to the individual, drawing on shamanic, Tantric or BDSM practices intended to help men find their masculinity. I’ve heard it said that the more personal your issue feels the more common it actually is. Yet certain things are stigmatized. But really, doesn’t the dark or illicit hold some appeal? And being told we’re not supposed to do something is simply a challenge to some.
Can we have the independence and strength to go through with facing these in spite of this? To me this kind of interaction was something I’d always had a curiosity about – however I was put off by concerns about safety and the intention behind what I’d found, and my interest waned again. That was, until I got to meet Claire Black, who offers “Sacred Pleasures” (search online if you want to know more), in a fairly neutral environment. A friend had organised a demo by both her and a male dominant, each with a volunteer. And when the audience were prompted afterwards about what they had seen not one person mentioned abuse.
Quite the opposite. Rather care, respect and attentiveness. Which gave me the confidence that I could surrender and entrust myself to Claire. Which is reassuring if you’re to be physically restrained and test your limits. Both of which she did with due care and respect for what we had previously discussed and agreed.
Despite reassurances, doubts still appeared. Fear still appeared. But this was another avenue to confront these: overcoming the feeling of uncertainty and doubt, to realise that something appeals, whatever peoples perceptions. The sense of independence in behaviour and thinking. A practice where you can find your limits and often come to realise they were far beyond what you expected. An almost meditative experience of reaching a threshold, accepting and allowing it, and reaching further than you expected. And doing all this in the presence of a wonderful woman.
As men we’re usually expected to be in control, both in life and in the bedroom (as if they’re separate). My question was: what happens when we relinquish control, and how do we handle that? How do we show up when faced with a powerful woman and challenges? With the cocktail of uncertainty, sexual tension, fear, pain, adrenaline.
Like being physically naked in front of someone, can you be naked emotionally when the pretences are stripped bare? When you give someone so much power over you might your sense of giving away your power change – and how you may do this elsewhere in your life?
I invite you to drop any preconceptions and consider this unexpected path. You may be surprised by discoveries of spiritual practice, consciousness and personal transformation.