Edward Willey talks about his seemingly two separate interests and pursuits – rope play and self-leadership – and his ingenious idea of combining them together to develop and practice. How do rope play and self-leadership intersect? 

How it started 

Prompted by his partner’s brilliant idea, Edward Willey started to introduce some movements and meditation practices he used in self-leadership training into his rope play sessions. He quickly realized that people started to learn rope tying techniques but, more importantly, the connection between partners greatly increased. Since then, each session became more about how to stay deeply connected to the partner and less about the technical side of learning how to do each fancy knot. 

“The knot that binds together” 

In rope plays, there are two Japanese terms often used: “Shibari,” which means to tie; and “Kinbaku,” which means “to bind tightly.” But more importantly, the word “Misubi,” which means “the knot that binds together” or the thread that ties all of creations together. The true focus of rope play is on the connection that happens between you and your partner, allowing true intimacy and connection to develop. Before getting caught up with the techniques of rope tying, create a foundation of relaxation and confidence with your partner. Make the experience between you and the partner as opposed to you and the rope. 

How does exploring rope play and leadership make you a better leader and lover? 

Being able to stay present and relaxed and confident can make your partner feel a lot safer in the bedroom, and it can develop intimacy and more trust between the two of you. If they feel safer, more respected, and more heard, they are more likely to follow the guidance you’re bringing. The same thing applies to leadership. If you can approach your leadership with a relaxed body that’s strong, vibrant, and healthy, with an open heart that’s full of love and connection, people will naturally follow you. The rope is just a tool to develop deep connection and intimacy in order to create a container of safety for your partner. 

Is self-leadership different when you’re the one being bound? 

The person trying has more responsibility to take care of the safety of the other, but the person being tied up also has responsibility to be able to speak up if something doesn’t feel right or have questions or concerns. It’s a co-creation and it’s important to speak up. To be able to relax your body is also very important because being tied up can bring up fear and vulnerability. Keeping the mind calm for when it starts to spin up and feel panicky is the same training you give in self-leadership. 

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James Hamilton Healy

James Hamilton Healy is a Best Selling Author, host of Business Innovators Radio and contributor to Small Business Trendsetters and Business Innovators Magazine covering Influencers, Innovators and Trendsetters in Business, Health, Finance and Personal Development.

Jessa Zimmerman

Jessa Zimmerman is a couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist. On Better Sex, she and her expert guests share their insights, strategies, and ways of thinking about sex that will help you improve your intimate relationship.