It’s a ritual I go through.
Not before every session; only those where I know I’m going to be really tested. This one for instance. I’m definitely going through my ritual of preparation for this session. It’s going to be judicial caning, taken with no warm up, delivered by a man.
What does that “judicial” word mean in the CP world? As far as I can tell, and I haven’t had one before, it implies a particularly heavy beating where a set number of strokes are delivered one after the other with few if any breaks. There might be yelling and bucking against the straps; there might be real anguish, but the caning will go on. In a judicial caning there is no safe word*; it starts at one and goes through, in this case, to thirty without let up or release.
I haven’t been in a judicial scenario before, have been beaten by a man only a few times and I have only once been past 24 strokes. That was under pretty exceptional circumstances too. This session has the added twist that I will have to witness Elita take the same beating first. That’s going to be hard for me also, though not as hard as it will be for her.
Why would I have asked for a judicial caning?
To test myself for sure, see if I can handle it.
To experience the same adrenaline rush felt by skydivers or those who surf the biggest waves and ski the steepest slopes. To experience the almost mystical “flow state” that psychologists use to explain the feeling of absolute and total engagement, of being “in the zone,” of focus narrowing to a point and time slowing.
For the feelings afterwards; the joyous release of having been tested and survived; for the exhilaration of sharing that experience with someone else.
For the feeling of being alive, the brighter colours and sharper sounds, that this experience will provide.
So the preparations: the ritual that started when I woke this morning. Simple things; a walk with the dog in the bright autumn light and chill air, a slowly made coffee, perhaps two, a meal. A long shower, though not too long. I take time over these seemingly mundane activities, trying to slow myself down, centre myself; trying to be ready
I will pay extra for a first class seat on the train so I can be alone with my thoughts for the short journey to London; arrive early, find a coffee shop, order a hot chocolate, perhaps some flapjack, stoking up on short term energy.
And all the time, the delicious undercurrent of physical things happening alongside these mental preparations as adrenaline’s sweet magic starts to influence my body, taking control of my heart rate and my breathing. Ancient defence mechanisms that we label the fight or flight response switch on, making me feel alert and attuned to the world around me. To be this much in touch with my body, to feel it, sense its preparations, is something I only experience at these times.
These things remind me that I am an animal; an animal that once roamed grassy plains as both predator an prey; an animal connected with its environment, alert and focussed.
So I’ll go though these rituals.
At the appointed time, I’ll walk slowly to the door where we are to meet, breathing deeply, sucking in oxygen. I’ll ring the buzzer and wait.
Engaged with my body
Here is an article on the flow state. The theory of it was developed by the winner of many “least pronounceable name” competitions: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
* The reality is that I am a client and there is always the chance for me to say I don’t want to go on. Elita reminded me of that fact in her last email. However, the assumption here is that I will have buried the safe word very deep in a place where I will only find it if I am getting into deep trouble.