Mental Impact in Seme-nawa

mental impact in semenawa

Whenever we talk about the impact in semenawa, we usually focus on the physical challenge, which of course is very present… But today I want to talk about the mental struggles. Because let’s not pretend that it’s all calm and quiet Zen kind of state when we are in ropes. There are a lot of dialogues and sometimes conflicts and a lot of mental processes. 

It is well known that our brains are always on the lookout for our safety. These are pattern recognition mechanisms that work to ensure our survival. So yes, there is nothing wrong with your mind having a little concern when you are hanging from the ceiling with 15 ropes on your body… 

The question is what you want to do with those thoughts at that moment. 

Let me tell you about myself. 

Being quite experienced, I need a bit more challenge to bring me to a state of mental struggle. I need the intention, skillful impact, and time. So for me the experience of meeting / touching upon my mental limits happens mostly in rope-heavy slow tying, like lacing. 

I remember one of the sessions back in our Berlin Jam at Gerichtstrasse… Summer 2019. I even remember what I was wearing at that moment – a long “princess” dress. It was one of the hottest evenings of that summer. Hot air standing still in the room, despite open windows. Perfect moment for lacing, my partner decided. I was buried alive in my own dress and the whole cocoon of ropes… for 1,5 hours. That session was very memorable for me…. I encountered my mental limits.

In fact, I found an old email I wrote to my friend Saara Rei the next morning where I shared my experience. I will not censor it, but just copy it here as I wrote it 5 years ago:

"…At some point during the session, I noticed that I’m literally crossing my MENTAL limits, meaning, there was this thinking “I cannot take it”, “please stop”, and I was about to say something, but then, because I’m already quite used to check with my body, I was inquiring my body, and it was reporting, like, I’m all right, I can still breathe, in and out, in and out, and then I’d be like, okey, I don’t say anything. And it went like 5 times like that. I felt I literally was crossing my mind limits one after another, relying just on my body feeling safe (safe: I could still do little shallow sips of air and could move my right hand: my safety criteria nowadays:-D) 
In the morning I started processing and remembering: before, my MENTAL limits, my THINKING “I cannot take it” I would use as a reason to stop the session: maybe my mind was not able to process the idea of such challenge and I didn’t have a strong habit of going into my body, trusting my body INSTEAD. So I would still DECIDE on things, and I would decide this is it. And use it to get out of the challenge… "

This week I had a good opportunity to test my mental limits once again. These are very hot days in Berlin. On Tuesday we went to IKSK and we tied “just for us”. Hot air was standing still in the room, despite open windows. Perfect moment for lacing, my partner decided 🙂 It was very slow and very strenuous as there was a rope around my butt fixing me in the most uncomfortable position from the very beginning: very simple, very efficient. It was going on and on and on… 

Mental struggle. My brain wants to stop it, to ensure safety, to regain control. My brain was screaming with a high-pitched voice  “We need to get out of here!!!” …whilst my body was adjusting, regulating, and finding a way to cope…

I’m not advocating to ignore what our brains are telling us. That is the tricky thing about writing anything publicly. I want to trust that you understand that context matters… 

Trusting that, I like to bring up the possibility that sometimes – in the right context – we can find deeper wisdom in our bodies, than in habitual neuropathways of our brains. There is “top-down” processing of the impact, which happens most of the time, but we also have access to “bottom-up”. 

We can learn endlessly from our bodies… and it never ceases to amaze me.


Today is half a year since I have been writing this blog. I started somewhere around the end of 2023 and I promised to write it weekly. It’s a commitment. So far I managed most of the time and only skipped once or twice. I just wanted to acknowledge our milestone together. Thanks for reading! <3