The Spirituality of Corner Time

Ah well... the good part about being separated from my partner (again!) is that I have lots of opportunity to consider what I miss most about DD (Domestic Discipline) when we're not together.

I miss the spankings, of course, as I've written about in prior posts ("Why Spanking Matters"). But interestingly, perhaps even more than spankings, I miss the corner time that follows the spankings.

In our relationship, mandatory corner time follows every spanking. Depending on how much time we have, the seriousness of the offense and my attitude preceding it, corner time generally lasts at least 20 minutes, sometimes an hour, and occasionally longer for a more serious misbehavior.

Corner time is meant as discipline, of course, and it is certainly that. It's embarrassing, particularly since I'm required to "serve my time" with my newly-spanked bottom exposed. It's occasionally frustrating, if I haven't yet had a chance to tell my partner my side of the misbehavior I'm being disciplined for. It's occasionally painful -- depending on the severity of the spanking I've just received.

And yet, despite these unpleasantries, corner time is one of my favorite parts of DD.

Imagine having someone you love tell you, for the next half hour (or more!), your only responsibility is to Be. You have nowhere to go, nothing to do, no emails to answer, no obligations of any kind except to be still and present with yourself and your breath.

A lot of people pay a lot of money to take courses and attend retreats on meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques. I know, because I used to be one of them. To relieve my stress and quiet my mind and just give myself permission to Be, I've tried yoga, meditation, chanting, deep breathing, mantras, affirmations, prayer, you name it. Some of these worked better than others for me and, of course, all of them can be deeply effective methods for connecting with that calm, still, sacred part deep inside of all of us.

But for me, none of them have the meditative, calming, centering effect that corner time does.

I suspect a big part of the reason corner time works so well to calm, center and relax me is that it's mandatory. All of the other techniques -- meditation, yoga, etc. -- are voluntary. I can stop whenever I want to. And because I have an extremely short attention span and because I have have a very hard time not fidgeting or moving around, I generally stop way before traditional methods like meditation have a chance to work.

But with corner time, I can't "stop." I'm there till my partner tells me I can go, period. (Why? See "Why Do I Obey.") So I can't bail out when I get restless or bored or fidgety. I have to stay and see it through.

There's a certain pattern to corner time, at least for me. And that pattern is virtually identical to the pattern commonly associated with traditional meditation (when it's working). Both are a psychological journey with several stages, from stress to peace.

When I'm first sent to the corner, I'm all good intentions. I stand obediently still, focused largely on the sore bottom I've been sent to the corner with. But it doesn't take long for the fidgeting to set in. I shift weight from one foot to the other. I move my hands from front to back and to the front again. I rock my head back and forth. My eyes shift this way and that. (Should my partner discipline me for excessive fidgeting in the corner? Good question. Perhaps. Would that get me where I need to go faster, or is the fidgeting a necessary part of the process?)

And although my partner always gives me specific instructions as to what I'm to think about during corner time, my thoughts wander everywhere. From the spanking I just got to what I did to deserve it to what I want for dinner to the emails I have to answer to... etc, etc, etc. "Monkey Mind," the Zen teachers call it, climbing out of the corner and roaming everywhere but where it's supposed to be.

But sooner or later, all these random thoughts subside. My breathing slows down. I stop fidgeting. Things get very quiet in my head and heart. I find myself resting my forehead against the corner, taking deep, slow breaths and relaxing my shoulders, my abdomen and my neck (all the places I carry my stress). Time slows down and I lose all sense of how long I've been there. All that matters is my breath and the peace I feel inside.

20 minutes is about the minimum amount of time for me to get to this place and stay there long enough to feel the benefits. As with meditation, though, the longer I stay, the more I feel the benefits (up to a point, I suppose, though I haven't found that point yet). By the time my partner says my corner time is up, I feel like I've just had a really good yoga session. He tells me that when I come to him from the corner, I look especially beautiful and relaxed. And that's how I feel, too.

Corner time for me works particularly well following a spanking because the intense, sharp, external energy of a spanking is a perfect contrast to the peaceful, internalized, calming energy of corner time. For me, the contrast is what brings the transformation. Being taken to an emotional high by the spanking, and then allowed, slowly, to come back down into the peace of corner time is a profound spiritual experience. Corner time without the spanking preceding it doesn't carry the same transformative power.

I've read a lot of comments from women in DD relationships that express their resistance to corner time. Usually the reason given is that it's boring or that they'd get impatient and restless if they had to spend more than a few minutes there. And yes, it's certainly not as glamorous or dramatic or even sexual as a spanking is. The power of corner time is more subtle and nuanced, and it's buried deep in the hidden, personal stillness of our hearts.

We live in a culture that doesn't value stillness, patience or the virtue of just Being. But like many things tossed aside by the frenetic, media-driven culture we live in, stillness is necessary to keep us in balance.

We've all met people who can't stand to live in silence. Who turn the TV on as soon as they get home, take their iPods on a hike rather than just listening to the quiet sounds of nature, or blast their car radio everywhere they go. Or what about those among us who can't live in stillness? They multi-task -- doing two things at once all the time. Reading while they eat, cleaning the kitchen while they're on the phone, heck, even listening to language tapes while they sleep!

Somewhere along the way, we've been taught to fear silence and stillness. Perhaps because it's in the silence and stillness that the truth of our emotions and our authentic selves come out, and some of those emotions are difficult, painful and uncomfortable to face and some parts of our authentic selves may not be parts we want to acknowledge. Easier to drown our feelings and our authenticity out with constant noise and movement.

Easier, but not, ultimately, healthier.

The good news is that as practitioners of DD, we're way ahead of most of the rest of the world (with the possible exception of those Zen teachers...). We've already experienced the amazing benefits of expressing our deepest needs rather than suppressing them. We're learning the joys of living our lives in harmony with who we really are, even when the rest of society doesn't understand or approve of our authentic selves. We're much less likely to fear our inner voice, and thus much less likely to drown it out inner voice out with constant motion and noise. Therefore, in theory at least, we're much more open and available to the peaceful, stress-relieving benefits that corner time can bring to our lives.

So I'd encourage those of you who haven't done so yet to give corner time a chance to work its meditative magic. Yes, those first five or ten minutes can be difficult, but like any meditative practice, there's a payoff if you hang in there long enough. And you might come to find, as I have, that it brings a new level of spirituality and empowerment to your relationship and to your life as a whole.

The Little Voice -- Emotional Awareness and DD

About two weeks ago, I was happily working away on a project one afternoon, when a little voice inside my head said, "You need a spanking."

This message from my subconscious was unexpected and I stopped to consider the possibility. I didn't feel as though I needed a spanking. On the contrary, I felt relaxed, reasonably centered and confident -- all the qualities that come from having been recently spanked (although I hadn't been) rather than from needing one.

But the voice was insistent. Throughout the day, it popped up in the most unlikely places, always with the same message, "You need a spanking."

Sure enough, the next day, I started to feel just a tiny bit edgy. And that night, my partner and I had one of those all-too-familiar conversations that end in tension and tears. "You need a spanking," my partner said afterwards.

So was that voice in my head from the prior day an indication that my partner has learned to communicate telepathically? No (though that'd be really useful!), but the experience did show me yet another benefit of living a DD (Domestic Discipline) lifestyle -- an increased awareness of my inner emotional state.

About a year ago, I started charting my fertility using the Fertility Awareness Method, a method of natural birth control based on learning how to read my body's indicators to determine whether or not I'm fertile. (check out this link for a really great software program that helps track fertility) .

In charting the various physical changes throughout my cycle, I've been amazed at my growing ability to sense even the tiniest shifts in my body as they relate to my fertility. Things so small that I hadn't noticed them before, that are clear indicators as to whether sex is safe or not on the day.

Similarly, as my partner and I get more into the rhythm of DD, I'm noticing a corresponding sensitivity to my psychological states as well. Tiny little shifts of mood or flickers of tension that I wasn't aware of before we started DD.

These tiny little mood shifts are the sparks that, in the past, went unnoticed until they exploded into full-blown arguments and fights between my partner and me. Usually he would notice that something was wrong before I did, as I began to become brittle and bitchy without realizing it. Then of course, he would respond to my brittleness with bristliness of his own, and I would respond to his response (accusing him of starting it), and so on until there we were, hurling insults and ad hominems at one another and ruining our relationship in the process.

One of the many gifts of DD is this ability to catch and deal with these emotional fluctuations before they do any damage.

But of course, reaping the benefits of this gift of emotional sensitivity requires being willing to take the appropriate steps to stop the impending "bitchy spell" before it escalates. And herein lies the challenge, of course.

Either myself or my partner has to step up and give the needed discipline at the first signs of a mood shift. But of course, if my partner notices the mood shift, that means I've already crossed the line and demonstrated inappropriate and/or disrespectful behavior -- behavior that's destructive to the relationship

The best scenario for using DD to maintain peace and harmony in the relationship is for me to recognize the warning signs before they affect my behavior, and then step up and ask for a discipline session -- turning the interior "you need a spanking" into a verbalized "I need a spanking."

Now as most of you know from experience, having your partner tell you that you need a spanking is vastly different from asking for one. However "comfortable" we are accepting discipline imposed by our partners, those familiar demons of embarrassment and rejection re-appear in full force at the prospect of asking for it ourselves.

But, of course, in addition to being a tool for building a stable relationship, DD is also (perhaps even foremost) a tool for personal growth. It's a way to build self-discipline, boundaries and self-esteem we didn't build earlier in life (see "DD as a Reaction to "Me" Generation Parenting").

The little voice in our head that tells us it's time for a spanking is a valuable opportunity to learn to take responsibility for our own emotional well-being, rather than remaining reliant on someone else to manage our psychology for us.

Having the courage and maturity to ask for discipline when we need it is a valuable opportunity to develop our own internal parent -- the same internal parent who's telling us we need the spanking even when we don't think we do. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say that virtually everyone who's attracted to DD (and just about all the people who aren't as well) has an internal parent that isn't strong enough to get the job done without external help.

Recognizing a need and stepping up to proactively ask for help in addressing it is a major step on the road to becoming a healthy, integrated human being. It's a difference -- perhaps the difference -- between being a child and being an adult.

And that's perhaps the greatest gift of of the "little voice" -- the opportunity to take another step on the road to personal empowerment by exercising personal responsibility and developing a stronger, more reliable and trustworthy internal parent.