It is hard to believe, but it is now almost three years since the first time I suspended. Since then I have suspended seven more times, and I have no doubt in my mind that more is to come. (Insert obvious pun about being hooked.)
The concept of body suspension is very foreign to most people, so I wrote about a few of my suspensions (Cannonball, Lotus, Crucifix, Scorpion) in the hopes of addressing he whys and hows. I also got to suspend and talk about body suspension on TV a couple of times, so I have done what I can in terms of mainstreaming in Norway… Now I live in the UK, where fewer people seem to have heard of the practice – which is why I am using English to log my latest body suspension.
Every time I suspend, I learn something new. My first suspension taught me that A) I can do this! and B) I even enjoy this! and this opened up for a whole range of new experiences. Through body suspension I have learned to relax and let go, I have learned that I don’t have to know everything in advance, I have learned about spontaneity, I have learned about my own need for intense experiences, I have learned to trust other people on a deep level, and I have learned that I am stronger and more resilient than I thought.
I am still learning about all these things, though. Ahead of a suspension I always have to remind myself that I am (supposed to be) strong and resilient, and sometimes I have to get other people to remind me! Last Sunday I got really nervous and had to text a friend: Say something encouraging! He responded by saying: You’re going to fly away, and the moment your feet leave the ground nothing else will matter 🙂 He was right, of course – as soon as I was pulled off the ground, I relaxed into the feeling and had a beautiful time. Afterwards I felt a bit silly for having been nervous.
I did a Crucifix Suspension – my second one, and I was planning to do something cool with my legs or at least one leg, but decided not to. My excuse was that I wanted to be able to go to jiu jitsu the next day, so the fewer scars the better … but the truth is that I was tired and felt a bit vulnerable. I simply didn’t want too suffer through too many piercings. As soon as the first hook went in, though, I realized that it wasn’t that bad, and I remembered that I actively like the sensation of the needle – that sharp, quick shock. It clears my head and gives me a rush. I still went ahead with the regular Crucifix and flew happily for 20 minutes or so.
Everything felt great, but I grew tired quite quickly this time. I usually feel little to no pain after some time in the air – endorphins are great like that – but that doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t there. This time I could feel quite strongly that my body was in pain though my brain said otherwise. So I decided to come down before I wore myself out. Normally I like to stay up for a bit longer (except for that time when I did my Scorpion suspension), so I ended up feeling disappointed in myself. A stupid feeling, of course, but it was there nonetheless. I was happy and giddy like I always am after a suspension, but at the same time I felt like I had been weak and even a bit lazy!
So – I think my primary lesson after this suspension is that I should try to see body suspension less in the light of achievement and more in the light of experience. After all, I am not trying to prove anything, I am just there to have a good time! So I have decided that I should probably try to be a bit easier on myself. I have also decided that being a bit scared is perfectly alright and even exhilarating. Of course I have always been of that opinion, but this time I was really tested. I tried to put on a semi-brave face for my friends, but the wonderful Håvve from Wings of Desire probably saw that I was a bit more nervous than usual, so he did a silly dance and made me laugh. I ended up laughing at myself as well, and I realized that being scared is OK and not dangerous.
The other day I had talk with a friend from jiu jitsu about the stages of learning or growth. He drew on a notepad and talked about «the comfort zone, the stretch zone and the panic zone», and pointed out that real growth is to be found right at the end of the stretch zone – in other words: at the threshold of the panic zone. Eventually the stretch zone extends and pushes the «panic border» further ahead. I don’t think this applies to all types of learning – panic is after all a strong word – but it certainly applies to my experience of practicing body suspension. It even applies to how I view my writing. I can’t grow if I’m comfortable.
And that is what I will think about the next time I suspend – or indeed struggle in front of my laptop.