Masters Holding Space

Holding space for slaves.  What does this mean?  How can I as a Master hold space for my slave?  In the traditional sense, ‘Holding Space‘ for someone means staying engaged and present with them while they undergo a process of self-inquiry and discovery of truth.

I believe that it is both necessary and essential for Masters to learn to hold space for their slaves in such a way that the slave continues to grow, continues to evolve and maintains their enthusiasm and dedication. What started me to thinking about this was a number of things that happened recently – I was reading the foreword of a book that we are talking about on my Master’s yahoo group – its The Control Book in which the author talks about why we do what it is that we do.

According to Peter Masters a Dominant is someone who seeks simply to take and use control over a submissive. A submissive seeks to give up control and be controlled by a Dominant. Control is the key – he also states in comparing M/s to D/s that a Dominant controlling a submissive is an exercise in want on the part of both parties, but in a M/s dynamic the control taken and used by the Master and also received and given by the slave are an exercise of NEED. On some level Masters need control..and slaves need to be controlled as well.  I thought this was an interesting viewpoint, it did however bring me to another question which on the surface you might either think is obvious or assumed; what about the issue of personal pleasure and fulfillment with regard to the exercise of control taken and used on the part of the Master and received and/or given by the slave? Is it about sex, for instance? Certainly sex is one avenue to pleasure, and an important and essential one for many of us. WIITWD is full of sexual pathways to pleasure. But I’ve always felt that for me the exercise of taking and using control also gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction internally – its difficult for me to describe that sense of satisfaction in any other way than to say it is also feeling of pleasure, or pleasurable in nature. Combine sexual pleasure to the pleasure of exercising control and Im in heaven basically – but I’ve always felt that sexual pleasure and the pleasure I get from exercising or taking control are two different things.

Obedience is the foundation of the Master/slave relationship. As I’ve heard others, most recently Master Skip say – deliberate disobedience will almost always irreparably shatter the relationship. The other side of this coin is that if the Master does not provide regular opportunities for the slave’s obedience, the relationship can suffer as well. As I’ve noted earlier, in my experience I find that the pleasure I receive from taking and using or exercising control in my relationships is fulfilling to me. My slave finds fulfillment in responding to the exercise of that control. So it follows that as the slave lives and operates in response to our Mastery, it is incumbent upon us as Masters to be vigilant concerning the timing and frequency used to provide opportunities for obedience.

I was talking to my slave about some goals that I had outlined for her and as we continued to discuss the volume of things that she does on a daily basis she brought to my attention that she definitely feels differently about everyday activities and chores depending on how I’ve directed her. More specifically she feels differently if she cleans the floor because I’ve told her to clean the floor, or if I’ve been specific about how and when I want the floor cleaned in such a fashion, than if no directive at all is given concerning the floor. What would normally be a mundane activity now becomes interesting. Why is cleaning a floor then an interesting experience? I believe that her diligence in the task and the excellence of the outcome is directly related to her sense of being obedient to my wishes. As we talked more she told me that she felt that she didn’t have the energy that she used to and was feeling tired more often, even though she still felt a strong desire to perform at a level that would be pleasing to me –  I realized that this didn’t have anything to do with how many hours of sleep she had received, exercise, good nutrition or taking vitamins, even though all of those were things that I have in the past had opinions about and had associated directives attached to them.

I had to admit to myself that although things were still happening in my house in a positive fashion and things were getting done, I had gotten too comfortable in many areas – there were too many things in the ‘automatic’ column – where my namaste was doing things because it was necessary that they be done, and not necessarily as a direct response to my Dominance.  Let me be clear here and say that there is absolutely nothing wrong in my estimation with a slave that takes the initiative and is both willing and able to jump in and figure out what needs to be done and just ‘take care of business’ as it were. My namaste is a virtual wizard at domesticity and has mentored a number of slaves in the hows and why’s of domestic excellence. I’ve always said she was at least part faerie, not only because of the magic she performs in this regard, but also because of her near constant energy and enthusiasm and love for life. She literally sparkles with energy at times. So while my house is beautifully maintained, one would think that I would have nothing to complain about. But what attracted my attention to this area was the fact that this wasn’t the first time she’s mentioned feeling more than a little tired. That was a concern to me.

A solution.

As I thought more about it, the words she spoke resonated with me “I feel more energized when Im doing something that you want done, than I do if Im just doing something that needs doing, or something that I feel needs to be done.” Now let me state clearly that I do not wish to become a household micro-manager, giving everything the proverbial white glove treatment when I come home. Additionally, in my business I travel often, and there are many things that need doing on a daily basis that need doing whether or not Im physically present to monitor the outcome.

I have directed her to compile a list of things that she does somewhat automatically in our home so that I can review these activities. What am I going to do with such a list? I am going to review each activity and Im going to figure out how to ‘reframe’ that specific action for my slave in terms that reflect my Dominance in her direction. For example, she routinely sweeps the entryway to our house. This is something that is done because she always does it. I’ve never felt the need to issue a particular directive concerning it because there hasn’t been a need – if I do not look at this as an opportunity to engage my slave. The entry way is generally clean so there’s really been nothing to attract my notice there to be honest. However, there is still an opportunity there because it is something that she routinely does and believes is important.

There may be literally a hundred things that similarly need doing around the house that would fall under this umbrella. How can these activities be ‘reframed’?  For example my way of reframing the cleaning of the entryway would be like this; “The gateway to our house is the first thing any in our family see upon returning home at the end of the day. Make sure the floor in this area is clean and free of debris, dust and dirt on a regular basis. If I was going to be even more specific, I would add; sweep this area at least 3 times a week and use the swiffer mop on it once weekly.

My plan is to go through the entire list so that each of the areas that previously had not been receiving any attention from me is reframed to cover a specific directive or expectation of her. We will sit down periodically for my general review and commentary on all of the items on the list. The purpose for this activity is that she needs to be aware that these things do not escape my notice and that when she gets down to work on them, she is now doing them for Me, not just performing the activity to get it done or merely because it needs doing. I am taking that activity and holding space for her – providing a safe container for that activity and therefore elevating it from the mundane to the special.

To revisit concerning holding space – this can also be an act of maintaining a ‘safe container’ for someone else. I’ve read of it being a spiritual exercise in which a higher consciousness, a high vibrational field, is invoked and maintained. So what is that like for me? I see myself sitting down and when Im in the process of writing out a clear directive for her, Im envisioning her in my minds eye carrying out that task with as much clarity as I can and also with positive good intentions as well. I see her smiling and radient in my mind as she goes to perform whatever it is that I’ve directed. Im also mindful – conscious of what it is that Im asking for and my intention in writing it down is clarity of focus – I also ‘see’ her performing the task to perfection as well. Can everyday activities like sweeping and mopping and dusting, or washing and hanging clothing be opportunities for enlightenment? I believe its possible. But lets say a Master wants to do this and remains skeptical, for those Masters that are not about ‘The Woo’ – even if one doesnt believe in the notion of higher consciousness or any sort of vibrating field, I would offer this; At the root I believe that most Masters want those under their charge to do well, to achieve the best and highest in whatever activity they are commanded to do. If that is true, then I believe that the act of merely taking the time, being mindful and present when we outline our directives can go a long way toward affecting the slave receiving that Word positively.

When I as Master am conscious of my commands and directives, when I deliberately envision and direct my intention toward my slave in this way, by putting pen and ink on paper and the act of creating a list of things to do – I is my belief that I invest some of my energy in each command, in each directive – this can be an exercise of higher consciousness.

My direction or command to wash or clean or put away or organize strikes a responsive chord in my slave. The responsive chord that is struck within the heart of the slave invests her response to that command with energy as well.  This opportunity for obedience serves both to energize the relationship and also give her pleasure. Yes, these are all things that she needs to do anyway, for the well being of our House, but by holding space for her in this way I believe I put a plug in the bottom of her metaphysical energy bucket, so more of her personal energy stays present for my use and enjoyment. Without that application of intention on my part, these day to day activities can become rote, mundane, dull and boring and as a result begin to drain energy instead of being an energizing force.

Master Obsidian

Losing the Edge….or Neglecting to Hurt the One You Love

How do I love thee, let me count the ways, states the Bard. Can love be a contributory factor in draining the zest from our power exchange dynamic? I believe that it is possible – I’ve seen it happen. We are socialized from birth to refrain from hurting those that we love. And when I say hurt in this context Im not just talking about the physical – for example we live in a society that places a very high value on personal freedom. In our M/s and D/s relationships we challenge those boundaries. Masters often limit the rights and freedoms of those in relationship with them. In a society that prizes personal freedom can that imposition of will, the limiting of anothers freedom be interpreted by either or both parties as painful? What happens when social conditioning runs into the freedom we enjoy in terms of our M/s or D/s relationships? What are the other factors that can contribute to short circuiting Dominance in a relationship?

Prior to generating such intense feelings of love towards someone else we may be content to just go with the flow of our Dominant tendencies without analyzing them, but the nature of a love relationship, especially NRE (new relationship energy) tends to cause us to look at nearly everything about our lives in a new light.

Perhaps our inner critic tells us every now and then that we probably shouldn’t be doing what we are doing anyway and especially not enjoying it – that our behavior (being sadistic for example) would be unacceptable to many whose opinions we respect. Additionally, a large part of being in love is the feeling of acceptance we receive from our significant other. She/he appears to accept us as we are. Its human nature IMO to express our pleasure from experiencing that by not acting in ways that would damage or diminish that acceptance. (like by hurting them physically/emotionally/mentally for example)

Finally, its easy to get lazy and neglect to continue to do the same things that led to success after we have achieved our goals. Regardless of the kind of work we do, whether its am M/s relationship or building a career or even growing a tomato plant – in the short term we will often still receive the ‘benefits’ like we used to…even though we aren’t working nearly as hard as before. We often don’t notice the warning signs until we aren’t getting any tomatoes at all, so to speak.

There are other bullet points I could point out, but you get the picture. Any one of the above is enough to short circuit Dominance as a ongoing part of a relationship. Put two or three together and things get really tough. Protocols start to slip, rules get relaxed, we aren’t as demanding as we used to be etc… This isn’t just exclusive to our M/s or D/s world either – vanilla men routinely unintentionally sabotage their relationships just as often – they meet a girl, she’s blown away by how confident and independent he is, and then a couple years down the road they discover that while his persona as a single guy was very direct and confident and perhaps a little arrogant…the guy that he models himself after in a marriage relationship is his Dad, who was very egalitarian and basically appeared to dote on his Mom and so on….so what happens now…..He’s frustrated because he feels like no matter what he does to ‘make her happy’ she’s never satisfied and she’s frustrated because the change in him has been so gradual…she cant put her finger on what’s wrong. She just feels adrift and vacillates back and forth between thinking that it might be her fault, then going back to it being him again. They cycle back and forth and this may go on for years.

I strongly feel like whether M/s D/s or vanilla – this does NOT have to happen. Not to any of us.

But it happens way too often because we just don’t know what to do. As Masters, we tend to fall into the Inner Critic loop of non-enforcement of our rules, followed by beating ourselves up for being neglectful, followed by internal shame for not enforcing, which makes us hesitant to act, which leads to non-enforcement and so on. How do we get out of that spiral?

From the Master’s perspective I have to face the fact that I DO have to choose. And we have a responsibility to ourselves and to those who we own to do so. Even if your choice is to not make a choice – to not act, to literally STOP doing the things that led to your attracting, retaining and growing your slave or submissive, recognize that too is a choice – and has consequences. Loving and sharing your life with another person isn’t easy by any stretch – many of us know how to do vanilla and I’m not going to say that’s easy either cause it isn’t – a 65% divorce rate is ample proof of that. The fact of the matter is that it does really take work to own another person, to Master another person. The rewards are fantastic if you are willing to put in the time and energy – but just like with the earlier example of a career, or the growing of a tomato plant, you are going to get out of it pretty much what you put into it.

Here’s the paradox – whatever the Master chooses, He isn’t wrong. But he must choose.

I’ll say that one more time; whatever the Master chooses, He isn’t wrong. But He has to choose.

It would be easy to try to box this in terms of black and white. Good Master=choosing to be diligent and stay on top of his slave and work hard at keeping the structure intact/Bad Master= taking it easy, not being so hard on the slave etc…. its rarely that simple and who can say? There are plenty of Dominants and Masters that have successful M/s or D/s relationships based upon very loosely defined structures. They have identified the structure they prefer and they are consistent in doing the things that make that relationship work best. They haven’t lost their edge, so to speak. They are living within the boundaries of the structure they prefer. Its what they have chosen. They can look anyone in the eye and say this is mine – this is what I want, this is what I like – this is fulfilling to me.

Say I decide tomorrow that all this life of sadism and leather and scening and fireplay and whatever is no longer for me. I come to the conclusion that I’d rather just watch the ballgame. That is my right – for this is my House and no man may come under my roof and tell me otherwise. However, I should recognize that there is a cost associated with that decision. In the larger community it is unreasonable for me to expect people to come hear me teach on pressure point play if I don’t actually DO pressure point work..I don’t study, don’t practice and don’t have any aptitude or love for it. On an interpersonal relationship note, I probably would be being unreasonable to have an expectation of my slave to continue to respond to dominance that is really only in her head under the heading of What We Used to Do. If I say I want a high protocol household, but we don’t actually do high protocol, If in that situation I’m actually really laid back, then we are going to have troubles. Or perhaps if I have very high expectations of my slave..but I don’t say anything to her and hold her in contempt for not reading my mind and acting according to my wishes.

Many M/s couples say that they are very ‘fluid’ in their household/relationship structure…by that I believe they mean that they tend to move in whatever direction continues to make them comfortable and happy, adding and subtracting things as necessary, but not being overly rigid in format. In my own experience I know that wouldn’t work for me very well. From a practical standpoint I believe that its very difficult for subs or slaves to ‘intuit’ what is or isn’t important anymore to the Dominant or Master. It is also tough for a sub or slave to adjust their expectations to match a horizon that is constantly shifting and changing in unexpected directions. How do we as Masters and Dominants get ‘back on track?’ so to speak? To once again move in harmony with each other – like two jets flying in formation, or a basketball player brilliantly handling a ‘no-look’ pass – it may look easy on the surface, but typically it is the end result of a lot of hard work. The Master or Dominant taking the time to choose a specific path and then to consistently communicate that choice (or choices) to those that need to have this information.

Its about making the literal connection between input or communication and the results that we are seeking.

In some cases, it may be about reaffirmation and recommitment to a particular path, embracing the idea and giving oneself permission again to take the power and responsibility for the path of another.

For some it may involve a period of solitude – taking time out to focus on what is important, taking a hard, honest look and answering the question What do I really want out of this lifestyle?

Or re-engagement with the kink community where you live…seeking out others as resources and support. At times the shared language of understanding and building lasting relationships with others that share your lifestyle can yield significant benefits. No one of us is as smart as all of us – you can learn a lot from just watching and listening.

You may also need to consciously reject the ideas and principles of the ‘vanilla’ world that are inconsistent with your direction as an M/s or D/s household or relationship.

This life is fundamentally about choice, its about freedom. The freedom to choose for another person and also the freedom to give up our ability to make choices if that is our hearts desire. As Dominants, we lose our edge when we stop making choices.

Master Obsidian

Perfectionist slave syndrome

i was recently reading an article on perfection. in it the Author admonished the readers to not seek perfection and to become very aware of dangers of perfectionism. i suppose i would say i had a sort of epiphany at that moment because i became amazingly aware of all the ways that slaves seek to be perfect, and the dangers of perfectionism to the Ms/ dynamic.

Often we can not see the ways that perfectionism effects us because we do not recognize our actions as being perfectionistic. Perfectionism is not merely keeping an insanely immaculate home, or constantly dusting. It is also when you constantly see flaws in yourself and others, no matter how inconsequential they are and feel that “if only THIS weren’t here”. We may call it an attempt to be “balanced”, seeking continual improvement, or just trying to make the relationship “better”. However closer examination will often reveal that what’s really at play is perfectionism. Perfectionism can literally destroy the joy of slavery, remove the Respect the slave has for his/her Owner, and crack the foundation of the M/s dynamic. When we know what to look for it’s really easy to see the insidious seeds of perfectionism. Frequent discussion or contemplation of how things can be better, what’s “missing”, things that can “improve” are all symptoms of perfectionism. Perfectionism is in a nutshell the idea that nothing is ever good enough. No matter how wonderful, no matter how great, there is always SOMETHING that needs to be fixed. This is a problem because relationships are made up of fallible people (yes even M/s relationships!). We do not serve our Owners because they are perfect…we serve them because they are our Owners and we are intrinsically fulfilled by being their slaves. For example let’s examine one of the common things said by perfectionist slaves:
“i’m only trying to make the relationship better” – This implies that 1. something is wrong with the relationship as it currently is, and 2. you can make a unilateral decision to change it. Now the above thinking wouldn’t work well in a vanilla dynamic…so why do we assume that it will work in a M/s one?
i think it is important to say at this point that i am not suggesting that growth is not a desired trait. i am also not suggesting that we do not strive to be excellent. However, there is a difference between perfection and excellence. Living an excellent existence is possible…living a perfect existence is not.

i often hesr slaves speak of their Masters or their dynamics in this way, wistfully dreaming of the day that their Owner will be perfect, free from all flaws and THEN this will transform them into the perfect slave.

a small admonition- If your Owner has to be perfect in order for you to be their absolute slave…then this is not the life choice for you, because perfection is not a human trait.

Another way that perfectionism shows its head in the M/s dynamic is in the idea that if the Master were just “more” (insert verb of your choice here) the slave would “feel” his/her slavery more. This is problematic because it makes the slaves fulfillment dependant upon the Masters perfection.

So how can we recognize it when the perfection bug is at play? Ask yourself a few questions….
1. Are my concerns related to core values in the dynamic? (if it’s perfectionist thinking the answer will be no)
2. Do i find myself thinking “if only THIS were fixed”?
3. Am i never satisfied? Never content in my M/s dynamic or my slavery?
4. Do i compare our relationship to others?
5. i am frequently depressed because of imperfections in myself or my Owner?

What to do if you find that you are suffering from PSS?

1. Understand that you have value intrinsically. It is not necessary to be perfect to prove your worth.
2. Recognize the destructive influence of perfectionism.
3. Live in the now, it is almost impossible to suffer from PSS and be truly thankful at the same time.
4. Learn to live authentically. – Perfectionists are frequently inauthentic due to trying to appear perfect at all times. One cure is to live authentically and transparently. The experience of receiving love, even while flawed can be a great aid in internalizing that you don’t have to be perfect.

i hope that this little essay helps someone to see the dangers of perfectionism, and to recognize the ways that it can hurt a M/s dynamic. As slaves our focus needn’t be on perfection, only on obedience. ~Master Obsidian’s namaste (c)