How to Let Go and Really Surrender to Submission in BDSM

By Andrew Harwin

Don’t dream it, be it.
Dr Frank-n-furter (Rocky Horror Picture Show)

When we give ourselves over to something or someone, and we do it with 100% of our attention and intention, the result of that surrender is a complete liberation. You don’t just think about what you’re feeling, you are right there in it. Your body, heart and soul, not just your mind, are all right there, in the moment, having the experience, feeling it.

So many people spend much of their time on this planet in their heads, not really present at where they are. Try to be aware of the moment and be present in it. When we live our lives this way, deliberately choosing what it is we are doing, and owning it, then we get the full satisfaction out of it.

An old guru of mine used to say, “Life is a game in which we choose to make one thing more important than another”. So it is with the choices as to how we play. And when we give ourselves over to play, and do so completely, we reap the full benefit of it. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Whether it’s giving a blow job or a flogging, mummifying or piercing someone, or torturing each other’s balls, the object is to immerse ourselves fully, to surrender to it.


We expend an enormous amount of energy and time fantasising. “What would it be life if I…” One of the great things about safe-sane-consensual BDSM play is the opportunity to safely turn fantasy into reality. Take that stuff that is swirling around in your head, or those demons who continue to haunt you, and find a way to give them power, to bring them to life. Doing this in a safe, controlled environment with a partner you can trust, is what making a BDSM connection is all about.

Write down that fantasy. Talk to your partners and tell them “the whole truth”. That includes the part that says “This is really hard for me to tell you because I’ve never told anyone this about me before, but…”

Telling the truth has enormous power to it. By revealing a truth, you are giving it substance. Giving it substance and power may also take the fear out of something that has been running your life for a long time. That’s the liberation of it.


RemoveTheMaskIt’s important to share that kind of information with a partner so they will be able to grasp the degree of trust you are placing in them. To do this, you must feel safe. As someone’s connecting partner, be it a lover, buddy Top, bottom, Master, slave, Dominant, submissive, or whatever role you choose, you complete the connection by being totally there for them. Make them feel safe and supported by your presence, and free to reveal themselves to you. You have a responsibility to really be there, to really hear what they are saying or asking for, and to respond as best you can.

How can you help make this a reality? How can you effect his willing suspension of disbelief so that he will fully experience this, and do so in a way that is safe and sane?

Try scripting the scene, so that:
1. You boil it down to its basic elements, and
2. You can bring it through the process of opening, development, crescendo and afterglow.

In the course of deliberately constructing the scene, you will discover ways to heighten and enhance the drama.

Seek out information on building your skills, including not only physical techniques, but also non-verbal communication skills. Some people say you either have this or you don’t, but the process of getting to know your partner is one in which each learns to read the thoughts, feelings and sensations of the other. That is how the most potent, persuasive scenes succeed.


This word sometimes puts people off, as if it might take something away from the passion of the moment. It doesn’t have to, and in fact its value in setting boundaries is absolutely essential to the effectiveness of the scene.

I am not suggesting that a Top should reveal everything he might be planning to do to his bottom. Only that each partner should get a distinct sense from each other of what they want out of the play, and that they lay down a few ground-rules about undesirable activity, as well as establish their channels of communication.

If a Top feels he lacks the skill to bring off a particular scene, he needs to tell the truth to his bottom. To perhaps say, “I haven’t has a lot of experience doing this kind of thing”.

By being up-front about his level of play, he is cutting himself some slack and minimising any disappointment. This kind of openness can yield valuable results. It could even be a cue for an experienced (or inexperienced) bottom to help teach an inexperienced top.


I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I’ve never let it keep me from doing anything that I wanted to do.
Georgia O’Keefe

Express your fears, then let go of them and go on and do whatever it is you’ve been holding yourself back from. Do it safely and responsibly. Be. Here. Now. Enjoy, and have it all. Surrender.


VASM2002Andrew Harwin is a Life Coach and Ordained Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister. A Native New Yorker and Bronx Science graduate whose earliest spiritual experiences were in nature, he pursued Hinduism and Buddhism when a Reform Jewish education didn’t meet his spiritual needs.

Having his first sex with men at 14, Andrew came out at 17 and began exploring his erotic shadow and kinky desires. From 19 to 21, he was a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist. He also learned Transcendental Meditation and has been practicing ever since.

Diagnosed HIV+ in ’88, Andrew lost many friends and lovers to AIDS and almost died in ‘95. Returning to life in ’96, he came out as a Leatherman, marching with the Leather contingent in the ’97 NYC Pride March and joining the now-defunct Gay Male S/M Activists. He’s a former GMSMA President and Chairman, currently serving as an advisor to the Folsom Street East Board and a member of its Events Committee.

In 2003 Andrew was given the Barry Douglas Community Service Award for “selfless dedication and unwavering commitment to New York’s SM-Leather-Fetish community.” A Chicago Hellfire Club Associate and Member of Delta International, he’s the 2011 recipient of CHC’s J. Paul Eaton Award for service behind the scenes at Inferno.

For 10 years, Andrew helped teach the GMSMA Novice Tops & bottoms course. He created a BDSM Spirituality Discussion Group and is the author of many stories and essays on transcendent SM. This article was first published in GMSMA’s Fall 2000 Newslink magazine. It was reprinted in VASM’s Scene magazine, Vol 20, Issue 6, Sept/Oct 2002.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *