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"Having come to the conclusion that you want to be flogged and that you can honestly trust the person who's going to do it, then relax and let them do their job. Tenseness is only going to make matters worse."

The Other End of the Flogger
by Jack Rinella

"It takes two to Tango," my Mom always said and that certainly applies to a good flogging session. Oh, the Franciscans may do it alone, but we Leather folk prefer to make it a communal event.

When Steve so expertly applied his floggers to Al's bare back at my last Master and slave Training Seminar, we all made sure we paid attention. It was a sight to behold.

It's easy to note that Steve knows what he's doing. Likewise the same must be said of his slave Al. Just as last week's column on flogging had all sorts of advice for tops, there are suggestions for bottoms as well.

As you've read here many times before, all SM scenes demand a certain level of trust that must escalate if the intensity of the scene is to rise. Flogging, therefore, demands great mutual trust. If it isn't present then settle for something less or nothing at all. The first rule for the bottom, then, is if you can't trust your top, don't be his bottom.

There's always time to get to know him or her better and have the scene later.

As you read last week, good tops have to know how to "read" their bottoms, how to recognize signals that contain important information. Communication is a two-way street. It is imperative that the bottom communicate before and during the session.

How are some of the ways you can do that?

Speak up. An inability to say what you feel is the first warning sign that something is wrong. Ask your questions. Warn of dangers. Inform your top of your physical conditions, especially of any medical limitations. Answer your top's questions honestly. Fore-warned is best armed.

The last paragraph is meant to be done before the flogging (or any other SM for that matter) begins, but it does not and should not stop there. Speak up during the flogging if need be as well. This is no time to think that "Silence is golden."

The third piece of advice, then, is to continue to communicate throughout the scene. The best way to do that is to emote. The idea that one should "tough it out" in silence is rather self-defeating for a number of reasons.

We sadists like to hear you yell and scream. It is that reaction that get our juices flowing. Venting your pain with noise will make the pain easier to take and will help release the energy aroused by the beating.

I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about making noise for the mere satisfaction of making noise or to prove some point or impress someone. When I use the word "emote," I am writing about an honest expression of one's feelings.

In fact emoting is much more than yelling and screaming. Chances are that if it's only that, then there is more than a bit of pretense involved and that defeats good communication. No, emoting includes wriggling, writhing, and crying - any reaction that the natural body wants to make to what goes on when the whip meets the skin.

Yes, there are moments when toughing it out and taking it have meaning, but to purposefully conceal what you are really feeling will soon vanquish any possibility of a good scene.

If the top has all those guidelines for wielding the whip, the bottom has fewer, but ones that are just as important. I hate to boil the next instruction down to one word but it is the best advice I can give: relax.

Having come to the conclusion that you want to be flogged and that you can honestly trust the person who's going to do it, then relax and let them do their job. Tenseness is only going to make matters worse.

The best advice about relaxing comes from the books on natural child birth. I won't go into all the relevant techniques here but there are three that are important --- breath control, muscle control, and visualization.

Correct breathing is probably the singularly most important way to sustain the pain. Simply put, breath slowly and deeply and keep on doing it. Quick shallow breaths will lead to hyperventilation, though at times the natural birthers will suggest that technique as well.

Deep breaths will help you relax, especially when coupled with the visualization that the pain is being released as you exhale. As the air enters, feel your chest enlarge and think about the air radiating throughout your body, bringing healthy, healing, and cleansing oxygen to your system. As you physically expand on the intake, see yourself expanding into the universe.

During the exhalation part of the breath, imagine that the out-going air carries with it impurities, pain, and energy. You are becoming a conduit and the pain flows quickly and easily through you as each and every breath leaves your body.

Becoming tense is a very natural reaction to being whipped. We want to recoil from pain and the action of our muscles is to tighten up. Just as we can control our muscles and make them tighten so too can we make them relax. It's certainly not an easy a proposition but it can be done if we take time to think about it and do it.

Tenseness in our muscles is going to increase the feeling of pain. Conversely, relaxing is going to make the pain a great deal easier to take.

This is why last week's column spoke so seriously about bondage. Those restraints allow you to relax. One of their purposes is to give you the freedom to "go limp." They will hold you so you can relax without fear of collapsing.

They also allow you to struggle without flailing, thereby getting the effect of the muscular reaction without any of the danger of moving into the wrong position at the wrong time. Go ahead and emote by moving and then remember to relax. You'll always want to remember to relax and a good top will help you do that.

Tops will caress, kiss, and soothe with touch and words. Most importantly they should remind you to relax and to breathe. After all, you're in this together.

Visualization is a rather personal event so you'll have to come up with ideas that fit your style and have the positive effects we're seeking. Visualization is using your imagination to create mind-pictures of events that illustrate what you want to happen.

I often use the imagery of light. For me, SM is fundamentally a sharing of power, of energy if you will. I visualize sharing as a light beam that moves from me to my partner and back again.

Similarly I "see" the pain hit me and I "see" my body change the pain into light. I then imagine the light radiating safely and easily into the universe. I suppose you could say that I visual myself as a light bulb, the pain is the electric current, and when the current passes through me I light up.

That, of course, is the whole purpose of the flogging. For me, flogging in and of itself isn't the end, it is the means to an end, namely the state of relaxation, of pleasure, of bliss that will come when both of us are sated.

It is the afterglow that makes all of SM, and especially the more sadistic practices such as whipping and paddling, a reasonable and desirable event.

Until you experience the afterglow none of this makes much sense, really. Done well, to be on the receiving end of whip is a cathartic, liberating, and exhilarating experience. Come on over, my floggers are ready.

Copyright 1999 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact mrjackr@leathermail.com

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