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Corset: Tie the laces and open the mind...

I can try and narrate, but I'm not sure how well I'll do. I didn't decide to do it out of meditative desires. I saw a picture of someone who'd done it and I thought it was beautiful. I'd been feeling disconnected from my physical nature, and this was causing a lot of frustration and related problems. I'd been thinking about the corset when I tripped (mushrooms), and it was then that the decision solidified itself. The way I saw it then, it was going to be a process of "making holes so that the wings could come out". It was a way of setting something free and taking something I used to do in a negative way (cutting myself) and making it a positive experience. I also hoped to connect to my body in a meaningful way.

When I got to the studio, I was nervous. I didn't know if I could physically handle what was going to happen (the corset was a set of 16 piercings, 12 ga. 7/8" CBRs, and I'd never had more than 2 done at once before). I spent a lot of time on the table lying down as the marks were made; the guy who did the work is a perfectionist and took a long time to make sure everything lined up properly, was symmetrical, etc. That enabled me to relax a bit. It took maybe half an hour until he was ready to pierce. Finally, he was good to go, so he asked if I wanted to run through them or do a few and take a break, then continue in that pattern. Still unsure about whether or not I was going to be able to get through the process, I told him to start and we'll see how it goes.

I begin breathing deeply, and trying to center myself and relax, still a little jittery from the anticipation, and on the third breath out he pierced. It's a sharp quick pain, but I could feel the entry, the move through the middle, and the exit as 3 separate things. The person who did the work is very fast and sure-handed, and he quickly inserted the ring and moved to the next. After about 3 I was really working on breathing, paying attention on the exhale to the feeling of the pierce. It was so fast there wasn't too much pain- certainly nothing I couldn't handle. Every prick was a call to attention of sorts, another moment of focus. After 4 he paused for a second to play a little for the camera; he put his fingers through the rings and moved them a bit, which allowed me to feel their movement. I couldn't feel how he moved them or what he was doing, just a slight tugging sensation as things were adjusted.

I was fine to continue, so he did. The endorphins were beginning to kick in. The last 4 on that side were different due to the endorphins. I could really get into my breathing more, and a calm began to spread. I was taking very deep breaths (belly breathing!) and everything seemed heightened. I could distinguish more between the sections of the piercing (entry, through the middle, exit) if I so choose, but I could also breathe through it, focusing on how it kicked up my consciousness a notch. I think perhaps this is what some people describe as focusing on the pain in order to move though the fact of that pain into what it has to offer. In paying attention to the pierce but not to its individual sections, I could feel how it heightened my state. The last 2 on that side were supposed to be the most painful, as the lower back is usually a sensitive spot. As it turned out, I have very loose skin there, and those were some of the easiest pierces. The endorphins were kicking in m ore and my fingers and feet tingled a bit. He moved over to the other side, and the bottom right pierce was the best of the whole set. I felt the needle move through me like I was butter. It was amazing. Absolutely smooth and fluid; I could not split the entry/middle/exit at all. I complimented his technique, and he told me that was the deepest piercing of the set. Interesting. The next 2 were less comfortable than that one. My hands and legs were tingling more strongly, and the tingling was spreading. As he got into the last 4 I began to reach a state of euphoria- grinning uncontrollably, felt the urge to laugh. I wanted him to do the last 4 as quickly as possible, moving through them so that I could link them together; every one just heightened everything so much. I felt great.

I lay down for a minute as he cleaned up a bit, trying to get used to the tingling, wondering if I was capable of standing, wanting very badly to see the result. He helped me up after a moment and I could indeed stand and walk, although I was a little unstable at first. I thought it looked beautiful. I began to stretch and move, seeing how my motions affected the sensations. Leaning over and attempting to touch my toes was interesting- it stretched out my back, but allowed me to control the level of pain it brought. I could close my eyes and move, focusing on not the physicality of it so much but rather the space in my head and how it changed as I moved. How to describe the space in my head? I can't, really. White. bright. Very intense, but also clarifying, centering.

The next step was to tie me up- lace the corset. Again, I wasn't sure how much tugging I could handle, but again I figured we'd have a go at it and I could stop at any time. Interestingly- the lacing was great. I can't describe the feeling I got from it. The skin was tight and stretched. Once it was laced and I got used to it, stretching with it and whatnot, I had john (piercer) play with it- running his fingers up and down the laces, tugging a little. I could breathe beautifully as he did this. At one point he held the topmost laces and I leaned forward. This was the most intense part of the evening. I reached the same points in awareness, breathing, clarity as I had before- but on the second attempt (I noticed as I was about to stop that my friend was trying to get a picture, so I went back to it) I accidentally misjudged my angling and leaned farther (and faster) than I had intended. It HURT. Intense white pain and then- silence. I was somewhere. Suddenly john told me I was leaning too far- I could pop out the beads that were holding the rings closed. That was my cue to get back upright. I can't explain exactly what I saw, as it wasn't a seeing, and it went beyond feeling. That gave me a glimpse into what people get out of suspension, and I'm very interested in regaining that state. It was incredibly intense and I wasn't sure if I could really handle it, or for how long. John pulled me back very quickly- I was only there for a second. But I got a glimpse. A state beyond anything I'd reached before. Almost like I'd gone beyond mentality and physicality, like there was a nothing ness and my consciousness was just there, floating. I didn't really get a chance to "get my bearings" and have a look around, so to speak.

After that we took some more pictures, and soon it was time to remove the set and get home. I was in a fantastic mood. Removal was pretty quick and easy, though there was one hole that bled for quite a while. Gave me a chance to lie down again and relax. The state of heightened awareness lasted several hours. I felt like I'd re-affirmed the act of living in some way. I felt alert and wide open. Later I was tired- I was very drained. I crashed, and went to bed. The next few days were very painful, the next day my back was so sore I wore a halter top so no clothing would come into contact with it. It hurt a lot to lean against chairs, etc.

I couldn't quite explain to anyone what the process was like afterward. This is my first try, and time & distance have granted some objectivity. The process enabled me to explore my body as a work of art and as a tool. It definitely connected me to my body and showed me how to transcend it. Showed me that there is a state beyond an individual consciousness, there's a blank state somewhere (I guess people in the medical profession might call it "shock") but it did feel like I'd tapped into something at that peak. I think I have a better idea of how nirvana, as nothingness, can be bliss.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 March 2003
in Ritual

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Artist: John
Studio: +
Location: Portland%2C+OR

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