To train or not to train: that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the commands and instructions of a dominant master, or to take arms against such a program. And by opposing, end them.
As a new and Dom-less submissive, I wondered about training. Why would it be necessary to be trained when I was willing and eager to please? What more could there possibly be? I know my personality to be pleasant, that I have almost impeccable manners, that I am graceful and feminine. I had read a fair bit about the D/s lifestyle, books and blogs and articles. I could follow rules as set out for me. Kneeling? Sure. Eyes downcast? No problem. Asking permission as required? Absolutely. What would training provide that I could not already offer a Dom?
My first task was to research what training entails: I headed straight to the internet. Strangely enough, it was difficult to find precise information on training programs for submissives. Many Doms noted that training was a must. There were even places that offered to train a sub for a Master. These sites spoke in general terms, offering short and long term programs, but there were no specifics about what a training regimen would include.
After some digging and use of different search terms, I began to find some results. One of the first sites, http://www.sensual-service.com/, had an article named "Submissive Positions". I felt like I had struck gold! Finally I was about to find out what all this training was about! With the caveat that, "only your dominant can set your positions if he/she desires them", Raven Shadowborne described the following positions and their variants: Attention, Crawling, Kneeling, Supine, and Spanking. This was training?
This wasn't what I had expected. I am an intelligent woman and I expected there should be well-developed plans. Shouldn't there be lessons in protocol? I should know how to act when in public at D/s events or if Master wants to invite others over for a visit, for tea, for an evening. I had read about limits - what areas were covered? I had ideas about my limits - but what if I was not aware of areas that might be involved? I have lead a somewhat sheltered, vanilla life. And what about "implements"? What might I be faced with?
I checked out another recommended site, The Submissive Wife (http://www.submissivewife.org/). This site showed promise, but also had something to say about the very research I was doing:
"Understanding submission lends itself very well to a mentored process. But for sexual submission, the web is a very toxic environment in which to try to find that kind of guidance. While good information is available online, we often receive correspondence from women whose lives have been seriously harmed by unwise “training”. Please be careful."
Ominous, to be sure. This particular site is very private. They provide some resources for those like me, looking for more information. They offer an even more in-dpeth training program but they do not actively ask for participants as they are a small group, their mentoring is intense and they do not have many facilitators for the process. To even access their message boards, one has to apply and then be vetted through a phone call so that the privacy of this all-women's group is not broken.
There was enough information from their site, albeit very subtle, to determine that the actual mentoring they provided was an intrusive and sexual training program. There was information enough that indicated that wearing of pants was not encouraged, that not wearing panties would be required, and that trying to keep oneself in a sexually excited state at all times was a goal to be worked at during some point in the process. Oh my!
I started to make some headway in finding information from other subs about the training aspect of The Lifestyle. According to "mercedes" (The Path of Service, A Primer, Part 1; Simply Service, Volume II, Issue 2, November 2006), there are three areas of discipline for a submissive to study and practice: mental, physical and spiritual. She further breaks these down:
The Disciplines of Intention, Devotion, and Community Service
The Disciplines of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Study
The Discipline of Healthy Living, Practice, and Yoga
The whole process of learning and applying these lessons creates a personal transformation through increased awareness, a way to refine and improve oneself, a method of getting to know oneself. Instead of changing a person's behaviour, training creates a head-space that allows a submissive to serve with the thoughts and wishes of her Dominant first, foremost, and ever present. The key lesson? "There is only one way to serve and that is the way required by the one we are serving."
This would explain why there are no actual detailed programs out there. Every Dominant has different requirements for his submissive. The objective is to mold the submissive into his desired shape. And molding appears to take in every facet of a submissive's life. Is this not slavehood?
In the same publication, mari discusses why a modern person would want to be a slave to another, especially in an era where women's rights and liberation have been so hard fought for. She suggests that humans have an inherent need to find the structure that defines their life. Further, the changes in today's society that lead to liberation and equal rights, has created confusion in the interactions between men and women.
Mari relies on the biological explanation that men are designed to be more aggressive, independent and focused (in "attack" mode) but require someone to be behind them, to support them as they make split-second, autonomous decisions. The female multi-tasks to "preserve what the Male protects - a future, the culture, the young, the 'homefires', all things that require great capacity to balance emotional and physical needs but does not necessarily require instantaneous decisiveness or aggressiveness." With her support and loyalty, he makes the decisions necessary for their combined survival.
In today's world then, a woman can find a place to be relieved of the burdens of equality and liberation, by submitting. Submission [slavery] provides that "safe place to fall" (thank you Dr Phil), a place where she may be simply the nurturer, a place where her Master makes the decisions.
Training is not just about teaching the submissive to follow rules and assume positions. Training is the opportunity for the Master and the submissive to get to know one another. The trust given to a dominant by a submissive is a gift; the training the submissive receives is the process of the dominant unwrapping his gift. The two use the process to "discuss, to amend and develop, to grow and to find mutually desirable ways of expressing needs and exploring desires. To develop together what erotic power exchange will mean for them." In other words, training is the process of communication, of honesty between two people, of a combination of experiences that bind the two together. The end result of the process is such a deepening of the bond that the submissive will inherently know that the decisions her master makes are for her highest good. ("Trust", http://www.sensual-service.com/)
What did this all mean for me? One person asked me where I thought I needed training. That was a panicky thought - how was I supposed to know what I needed training in when I still wasn't quite sure what training was all about? I felt stuck, quite frankly, until someone came to my rescue with quick list of areas where training could be done:
* Physical training: developing specific muscles , movements, postures, moving between postures, holding positions, increasing flexibility, adapting certain yoga postures for submissive effect,
* Sexual training: increasing arousal, becoming sexual in new ways, overcoming sexual blocks, erotic movement, dance, striptease, pole dance, controlling masturbation, orgasm restriction, overcoming shame about body and sexuality
* Emotional training: overcoming unhelpful emotions, control over emotional expression, openness, journal keeping, overcoming fear, guilt, shame, dishonesty, possessiveness, materialism, stubbornness, resistance, surliness, egotism. Accepting humiliation, overcoming expectations, entitlement feelings, resentment at unfairness.
* Mental training: memory training (eg recite stories by heart), concentration training, learn new subjects (eg language skills, taking courses, passing exams). Training of the Will, persistence, obedience, determination, sticking to a task, problem solving.
* Skills training: huge range – examples include ability to make own clothes, spinning, weaving, lighting a fire, cooking over a fire, making own punishment implements & restraints, jewellery, singing, dancing, play a musical instrument, painting, poetry,
* Verbal training: control of speech, use or restriction of certain words, rule of silence, speaking more slowly, conciseness, expressing key points with clarity, listening skills
Non-verbal training: control of body language, using the body to communicate, reading body language of others
* Discipline and punishment: accept punishment in the way Dom requires, acceptance of pain, maintaining stillness, being unobtrusive, accepting restrictions on movement, posture, no-go-areas, being restrained, delaying gratification
* Rituals: disrupting basic habits and creating new ones,
* Spiritual: achieving full potential, integrating shadow, overcoming "false self", devotion, appreciation of nature, questioning and challenging core beliefs.
* Testing: being able to rely upon a sub, putting under pressure, what are the limits?
I was beginning to understand what training was about. I thought I was working towards what I would "get" out of training, not so much what I would be "training" in. It surprised me - and then again it didn't. I knew that by handing over control to a Master, it might probably be for all areas of your life. I suppose I didn't see "life" as the training program. But that is exactly what it is. And in a D/s relationship, it is a focused, structured, intense program.
What could I expect from training? A balance to my life, an understanding of what I need to become the woman I want to be, and the support and encouragement from someone willing to guide me.
To train or not to train is not an option in the D/s lifestyle: it is the lifestyle. It is the yin and yang of life, the power exchange between two persons to create a relationship that transcends that which can be found in the vanilla world. Seen in that context, the word "training" should perhaps be replaced by something more apropos, more descriptive of the process and the result, the journey. My suggestion? Your Pathway to Submission.