BREAKING TOPICS 1: What is the point doing Shibari?

The question that people have asked me the most related to Shibari is: What’s the point? What is the exact reason why someone would try to learn about it and engage with its community? That’s probably one of the hardest questions to answer since there are many reasons, and it depends on the person as to what they want to take from their experience. It took me some time to discover it myself, and it wasn’t until I met more people from the community and explored and shared my own experiences with them, that I figured out how much this can mean to me, or anyone. Everyone seems to have different reasons that brought them to Shibari, even though many of them may agree on many points.

From my personal experience, the most common reason seems to be exploring, whereas that means exploring their physical capabilities, their emotional strength, the way they interact with other people and communicate, or more of a spiritual adventure; it is up for the person to choose. Another big reason to start is curiosity, a lot of people seem to have seen pictures or performances of Shibari, and felt attracted to it but couldn’t point out exactly what the reason for it was, apart from curiosity and an interest to give it a shot. This last reason is probably the one that I could relate more to.

During the last years, a big part of the community has been using the concept of ‘therapy’ to refer to their own experience. Shibari makes you feel in ways you’ve never felt before, or experience things you wouldn’t have experienced any other way, and therefore, this kind of insight has served as therapy to many people. It has even helped people like me, who aren’t great at socializing. How can it help you with social skills you may ask. Well, it is due to the fact that, since it is an activity that is usually shared by two or more people, it pulls you out of your comfort zone and helps you improve in talking to people, communicating and learning how to understand them. It makes you connect with others in a non-traditional sense, creating friendships, achieving a deep understanding of boundaries, distance and emotional conflicts. But not all the knowledge is related to ‘the others’, it has an important part of exploration of one’s self as stated before. One of the most interesting themes, at least from my personal perspective, are the limits. Through this experience you’ll probably define your limits and discover how flexible those can be or, acquire some deep knowledge of other people’s limits. For example, some people may have a very low tolerance to pain, but when being tied up by a rigger with whom they have a strong connection, they’ve learnt about their body and how that pain can be put aside and disappear even, defying the limits they thought they had in ways that they may have never thought about. This has helped me to deal with mental barriers or handicaps that I didn’t even know I imposed on myself, because understanding those limits has brought me the power to overcome them too, without forcing myself. (keep reading)

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Everything said, there’s another important aspect of Shibari that can be quite common, which is sexuality. It isn’t my cup of tea but I respect it. Through Shibari many people, whether they where riggers or rope models, have explored their sexuality and, others, trying new things and uncovering new aspects of themselves. Having this in mind, we have to understand that for some people it may not be sexual, as myself, and for other it can be completely sexual, and part of the interesting sides of Shibari is exploring and mixing techniques raising questions like: How sexual can you make it? How artistic? How much of it is an actual exploration of yourself and the others? How much of it can be purely aesthetic for you? It depends on you, and discovering it can be part of the fun.

I encountered Shibari when I was 17 years old, but it wasn’t until I reached 19 that I actually tried it, so keep in mind that you don’t have to rush into it, usually it takes some time to start, and you may start as a rope model and end up being a rigger, like me, or the other way around, those choices are not definitive. You can change from one role to the other continuously, taste is a personal matter and it can change over time too. My first experiences where interesting enough but, I wasn’t fully engaged with it. The first six months where more of a trial situation. I loved the idea, but during the process I wasn’t enjoying myself properly which was odd to me, it felt like something was missing. It wasn’t until I met a rigger far more experienced than the ones I met before that my perspective towards Shibari changed. By using his/her/their knowledge and skill, he/she/they adapted the experience in a way that felt far more comfortable. It was in that moment that I started to get a grasp on the importance of the limits, the ability to adapt and the need to connect with someone else in order to fully enjoy the activity. Actually, I believe it was that particular experience that has shaped and influenced the way I relish and perform Shibari these days.

When people see Shibari for the first time it usually is the model that acts as a protagonist of it, as a result the figure of the rigger can be overshadowed as a background secondary figure. For me it was different though, I instantly questioned myself on why someone would want to tie up someone else. I was drawn intuitively to it, as my hands are usually never still. I always look for something to create, and this position requires ability and skills apart from the constant practice. I remember thinking to myself ‘This must be complicated’, but even though I didn’t start as a rigger from the very beginning, I just naturally ended up in that position with time. I discovered how a rigger has important responsibilities towards the model, such as being in charge of the technique that can put the model in danger if it is underperformed. But also, it is a position that beholds emotional responsibilities too, in order to understand the model and create a connection. Communication at this point is key, it being performed through words or not. Sure, Shibari can be superficial, a one-day session, that the people involved may never recall again, but it can also bring a new friendship in your life, apart from the typical romanticism that is usually attached to it.

I cannot tell you the reason that will make you fall in love with Shibari, it depends on you, but all I can share is my experience with it, as an example, as well as the opinions that I’ve gathered in all this time. It helps me discover, it helps me focus (which I was never able to) and I can assure you that it has helped many other people. It is at least worth trying. What do you think about it? Have you already started with it? Are you maybe still unsure?



Thank you for reading.
Pauline.

 Aina tied by Pauline Massimo. Barcelona 2018

Aina tied by Pauline Massimo. Barcelona 2018