By Selina Minx
Even in the sex-positive community “boundary” remains a loaded word for many people. Most learn to define the word grudgingly after bad experiences have brought the concept to their attention in unpleasant ways. The challenge lies in the extremely subjective and personal nature of what a boundary is. Activities which turn one person on can be a complete turn off for other folks. Navigating these preferences successfully without communication is nearly impossible, yet everyone would prefer not to have to define their desire in this way. Many people are much more comfortable with non-verbal communication, and will try to convey their likes and dislikes through sounds, posture, stillness or gestures. People search and search until they find someone who seems to be able to anticipate their likes and dislikes without having the dreaded awkward conversation about boundaries. It’s all to protect themselves from the sometimes uncomfortable revelation of defining their desires and dislikes.
The BDSM and polyamorous communities have pioneered much better methods for having these conversations, including detailed questionnaires and interesting lists of possible activities which create a framework from which one can have rather juicy conversations. However the power dynamic in a relationship remains a major obfuscating factor. The extenuating conditions of dominance and submission, love and infatuation, needfulness and longing make it hard even to know one’s own boundaries. Furthermore, communicating boundaries under such circumstances is quite tricky. There is always the tendency to please those whom have power over you, often with the shadow expression of resistance following close behind. In a very real sense, pure communication unclouded by these issues is only possible between equals.
Let us consider the concept of boundaries in another context and see if it clarifies things. In visual art boundaries are a concept that has been completely explored, even turned upside down by modern art. Yet what defines great art has remained the same for millennia. Beauty. Anyone can see that the boundary of a painting is it’s frame, yet there are also more subtle artistic boundaries expressed in the choice of color, visual perspective and style. In music, the gross boundaries are expressed in the length of the piece, it’s beginning and end. More subtle boundaries are expressed through choice of instruments, dynamic range and style. Every great piece of music or art is defined by its boundaries.
Each masterpiece is delightful because of what it is, as well as what it isn’t.
A sexual encounter or a relationship, a BDSM scene or magickal ritual bear the same features. Defining a focus is the easiest way to create the effects you want to enjoy. By defining your desired outcome ahead of time, literally and physically separated from the complicating interpersonal factors of power, desire and need, it is much easier to clarify a focus and design an experience which will fulfill.
Magickally speaking, the Universe is a river of YES. It is much more effective to express focus in terms of what you DO want, as opposed to what you don’t want. Often, magick which is focused on NOT wanting something has the opposite effect, as the universe tends to send us where we are looking regardless of what we say. Creating a positive focus creates positive results. The magick of decrease is a powerful paradigm for effecting reductive change, but again goals must be stated positively to have the best effect. For instance “I am cutting cords with X” is much more effective than “I don’t want to be in love with X anymore.”
However things get more complicated when dealing with other human beings as opposed to pure energy. It is extremely valuable to be able to state clearly what you don’t want in the moment. Many people know they don’t want to do something, but feel nervous about communicating that on the spot. Practice really does make perfect here, practice stating your boundary out loud. Be comfortable saying “no, thanks” or even “Stop!” and “Don’t touch me”. It’s always ok to put the brakes on if you are feeling uncomfortable. Your discomfort is your early warning system to avoid bad experiences. Trust your instincts, and don’t be shy about speaking up. Practice really helps especially if you tend to feel submissive, or shy when you have to say something you think someone might not like.
Boundaries in music, art and magick make for a better experience. The same is true of vanilla sexual encounters. By adhering to boundaries which limit the possible activities it is possible to gain focus and experience a range of physical and emotional sensations well beyond the normal scope accessible through your garden variety man-on-top-fucking-till-orgasm paradigm. Flirting, teasing, extended foreplay, greater emotional receptivity and better orgasms await those who practice a little self denial.
The tantrists take very deep by creating extended ceremonies of sensuality, and even intercourse in which the goal of orgasm is completely set aside in favor of savoring the subtle energies which build up during worshipful union.
Celebrate your desires, your boundaries, your self. Make a commitment to sharing your being only the ways you feel completely happy with. With the huge variety of people and preferences on this planet, there is no need to feel bad about being selfish, especially when it comes to your body, time and energy. Know thyself, speak thy mind, reap satisfaction!
~ Ms SM
Dec 5 2010