Tie Me Up

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They stood before us, he in his black pants, black leather vest and cap and his wife in her silk bra and striped underwear. She smiled at her husband when he said, “Isn’t my wife gorgeous?” And she was. Her rectangular glasses framed her face perfectly, her kinky hair stood straight up with a pink headband wrapped around it, as if to hold it in place.

I admired their love and her willingness to expose that voluptuous, chocolate brown body, sporting striped kneehighs like a schoolgirl, while I sat in a chair in the back of the classroom in my jeans, pink tee-shirt and down jacket shivering from the air conditioning.

“Today we are going to demonstrate rope bondage, a highly meditative skill,” the man in the black pants said. . Noticing some raised eyebrows in the group, he went on. “It’s not sadistic,” he said, “Really. We don’t bind for pain. We bind out of love and the desire to take care of our partner. It is a way for your partner to let go, to be held, like in a deep embrace. And we do it a beautiful way.”

I watched him demonstrate what he meant. The way she dropped in to him as he came around and held her, placing one hand on her chest and one hand on her belly. He moved his lips on the back of her neck without kissing her. He then put the red rope in his mouth while his fingers continued to caress his wife—never breaking contact with her. She made soft moaning sounds and we all watched as she allowed her body to completely surrender to him. Then after 10 minutes or so, he brought the rope around and began to bind her hands using great care and concentration. He moved in slow motion. He tightened the knot and then proceeded to wrap the rope around her chest with tenderness, making sure it was not too tight and not too loose. He wanted her to feel secure. He then brought out the black rope and secured her bound hands behind her back. Her eyes were shut, and you could feel that she trusted this man.

Even though there were about other twenty couples in the room—from twenty-year olds to sixty-year olds, from same-sex couples to heteros, I felt like he was touching me, and my temperature began to rise.

He turned to us with a smile on his face and one hand on her shoulder and said, “So, can you see that this is an act of love? When you partner comes home from a hard day at work and needs a little time to be still before she cooks dinner or anything, you can assist her by using the ropes. It doesn’t have to be sexual. It can be whatever you want it to be. It’s important to set an intention for this practice and then stick with it so your partner can always trust your words.”

I stared at him and then at her and then I noticed the packages of bras and lacy panties set up behind them. Black, red, leather. Leggings with cut outs for the crotch. Pictures of women with red lips, black hair and long legs on packages of tights. A lucite container of multicolored vibrators and various and sundry items like handcuffs and chains. After all, we were in the Pleasure Chest, a store for all things sexual.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I agreed to come to this class. I did have a preconceived notion of the master-slave scenario, and I knew that tying up was part of the BDSM world. But when the instructor spoke of akasha (infinite space or the void), I knew there was much more to this practice than meets the eye. In fact, I came away from the demonstration that night convinced that, with a little teaching, this technique could be incorporated into any relationship. And as an acupuncturist specializing in sensuality and intimacy for couples trying to conceive, I plan to encourage some of my patients to try the ropes technique—as a beautiful and mindful way of mixing things up, a playful way of relieving the stress they’re under.