Resources for Flyers
These recommendations come from the collective experience of the community of flyers. No list of recommendations can be fool proof or perfect for everyone. We recommend that all flyers speak to many trusted resources about how they should prepare for this experience. In our experience, these recommendations prove their value over and over again as we work with new and experienced flyers. This page contains information good for Flying, Hook Pulls, and Ball Dances, with a more focused set of guidelines specifically for new flyers. Please review this page completely before flying with the SuspenDC crew.
Resources Available From Here
Experienced or novice some things just have to be done. Taking good care of yourself before engaging in a suspension puts you on the right path. These tips can help you make sure you get the self care you need.
Get some sleep before you fly. The process is demanding. Being well rested increases the stamina you bring to the experience.
Be well hydrated. Dehydration can increase sensitivity to pain and weaken the immune system. Drink water and eat your veggies.
Eat before you fly but at least an hour before you fly. Unless you specifically chose to fast before a suspension, you should be well-nourished before a suspension. At the same time, you want to avoid feeling overly full. For many people that means no food for at least an hour before a suspension. If you are intentionally fasting, let the crew know at check-in.
No alcohol at least 8 hours before or after flying. Alcohol prevents blood from clotting, a needed response in this situation.
Know why you are flying. Longer discussion below.
Ask questions and make sure you are comfortable with the answers.
Bring at least one support person with you. Flying can be rough on the body and the self. Bring a friend with you to help you process your experiences.
Plan your post flight meal. Ideally something high in protein and which makes you feel good. You challenged the impossible, Celebrate!
If you have special medical circumstances check in with your medical specialist to verify that your body is up for this type of challenge and please be aware of your potential needs and prepare accordingly.
First Time Flyers
Congratulations on taking the risk of going outside of your comfort zone. Every flyer before you has been where you are now. Welcome home.
Take extra care of yourself for the few days before your flight. This is new territory for your body. Give yourself lots of resources. Make the time to get good sleep. Eat well for your needs.
Avoid being overly full or feeling hungry before your suspension. For most folks this means having a small to normal meal 2 to 4 hours before going up. The goal is that sweet spot of having lots of energy available without feeling heavy in your gut.
Bring a support person. Whatever your experience with extreme challenges might be, we strongly encourage first time flyers to have someone with them as a personal support team/cheering section. With the wide range of effects this experience can have on people, we encourage new flyers particularly, not to drive to or from the event. Ride with a friend and let them take you home.
Ask lots of questions. Make sure you are comfortable with every answer. Before you can fly, you have to feel safe enough to try.
If you have known medical problems, check with a medical specialist to make sure your body is up for this kind of extreme experience and make appropriate preparations for your needs during the event.
With your physical needs covered, now consider why you want to fly. Everyone has their own reasons. Hook suspensions are an extreme type of challenge to every part of your body and self. So, we each approach this with unique skills and weaknesses in meeting this challenge. Once you have the base of Maslow’s hierarchy (physical safety) taken care of with the suggestions above, now consider what draws you to this challenge in order to address your psychological and emotional needs.
What kind of challenge does a suspension create for you? Is this a physical challenge? A personal rite of passage? An instinct? A spiritual quest? Your experience depends on your approach. A lesson commonly learned from an extreme challenge is just how much of the challenge was actually mental or emotional.
The physical challenge of suspensions is pain. Getting pierced hurts. Having one’s body weight on hooks through holes in the skin is intense. Everyone processes the experience differently. Consider what you need to self-soothe when you are physical pain.
A trick from yoga – let your breath out be slower than your breath in and resist your breath out – make an “hisssss” sound as you breathe out. This can help lower the sensitivity of the nervous system.
Knowing the “why” of facing this challenge, as discussed above, can be very helpful when confronting pain. Knowing the reason you choose to face the pain can make the difference between success and failure.
Knowing something about your body’s endorphin response can help you to know when you reach your limits. Many folks find that they simply run out of endorphins 20 to 30 minutes after getting into the air. For a first time flyer, the end your endorphin cycle makes a good place to stop. You can always come back and do this again for longer.
If this is your first experience with body modification, keep in mind it will hurt at some level. But a healthy, balanced system can take the strain and rise above it. We are very resilient creatures! Sometimes the body needs a challenge to keep our minds active.
The personal challenge of a suspension centers on facing and overcoming the mental obstacles to getting off the ground. For every flyer, the hardest part of taking off usually involves lifting their foot (more likely toes) off the ground and mentally giving all their weight to the hooks. Feeling this struggle in the moment, even for experienced flyers, marks a significant point in every suspension.
The human mind can use this kind of extreme experience to challenge internal beliefs such as: self worth, personal accomplishment, courage, will-power, etc. This inner struggle gets played out through the process of overcoming the physical challenge. Succeeding at this process leaves a person with a great sense of achievement and personal value for having overcome the fears and self-doubt.
It’s difficult to be precise about the type of preparation needed for this level of engagement, because it will be unique to your circumstances in the moment. Guidelines that help most flyers:
Write down the internal stuff you want to confront through this challenge. This is best done as a positive, present tense statement. For example: “I realize my courage by facing the challenge of this suspension.” Or, “I am strong and I trust my body to hold me.” Your own words will be better for you than anything we could suggest. Whatever you write, put it somewhere so you can read it at least once in the morning and once in the evening. The more often you focus on it, the better. Remember, you can tweak the phrase as you use it. Just keep the general theme the same. Read it silently or say it to yourself aloud. Feel how you respond.
Bring a friend with you to the event. Bring someone who you trust and who is willing to be emotional support for you before, during, and after your suspension. Ideally they should drive you to the event and home when you are ready to leave. Sometimes people go through an emotional catharsis around extreme experiences. It’s always good to have someone on hand that you trust to be there just for you.
If you have some item that helps you to feel safe, you may want to consider having it with you for your suspension. The number one thing that will help you accomplish your goals in this space is feeling safe in the moment. We will cover the physical safety aspect but only you know what you need to feel safe mentally and emotionally. Take some time to consider what you would need to feel safe and then make reasonable accommodations for those needs. A blanket, a teddy bear, your comfiest sweats, a favorite necklace – only you know what it might be.
SuspenDC is designed to support folks in using suspension as a spiritual challenge. Suspension is, from a certain perspective, a controlled disaster from which you are guaranteed to escape in one piece. This can create an opportunity for the mind to play with the doors of perception in profound ways. One can use the experience to view how they act and react when under extreme stress. It can also open up deep places within the mind that are responsible for experiences of connection with the Divine (whatever that might mean for you). Many aspects of SuspenDC are designed to support this process. See Why We Fly to learn more about our perspective on the Magik of Ordeal.
Drumming is an ancient tool for triggering deep trance and creating a common connecting frequency between everyone in the space throughout a ritual. Live drumming occurs during most of the event and you are welcome to request the drummers to drum in a way that will help your experience.
We open the event with a community ritual intended to help everyone bring their awareness into the present moment and connect with the others around you. We also make time to state the agreements for how we will use the space together safely. Many of our volunteers are experienced spiritual guides who attend to support those using this experience to confront internal spiritual challenges.
The guidelines we suggest to folks following this path are:
Just as when using suspension to confront personal challenges, using suspension as a tool for spiritual development hinges on feeling safe in the moment to explore exactly what is happening internally. Giving some thought as to what you need in order to feel safe is even more important in this case. As Maslow expressed with his hierarchy of needs, if an individual does not feel fundamentally safe with their surroundings and their self, spiritual exploration is a non starter. This is something that only you can answer. We can offer suggestions but you are the final arbiter of what helps you feel safe.
Having a support person, or persons, is very important. They are your “ground support” so you know that someone is there specifically watching out for your safety so you may go deeper into your personal experience. The aftercare a support person provides is also very important. Many people come back from deep trance experiences a bit dazed and confused. Having a known, friendly face to welcome you back can be very comforting.
Take care of your body. Spiritual practitioners in all of recorded history have espoused the benefits of a healthy body to tackle the challenges of spiritual development. Make sure to take care of yourself in the weeks before the event. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, exercise a bit each day, and see the above recommendations for managing the physical challenge.
Focus your mind. As above, write out your objective and put it some place that you can see it every day. Then take this one step further. Take 5 minutes *several times* each day and quietly imagine your suspension and the spiritual goal you are working towards. Ideally, do this 6 or more times per day. Or, spend 15 min twice a day. Whichever approach you use, try making notes about these periods of contemplation. If you keep a journal, write about your responses and reactions to this exercise. If you don’t normally journal, consider doing so in the weeks before the suspension. This kind of repeated contemplation/imagination play is an amazingly powerful tool for focusing your subconscious to do what you want. So that when your system is under the stress of the moment, the subconscious can kick in and help you get where you want to be.
Finally, for those seeking even more of a challenge, physical stress can be added to the experience through fasting before hand. In many ancient traditions, fasting is used as a tool for increasing the intensity of spiritual ordeals. The basic idea is that the process of fasting begins the separation of the mind from the body, as the individual must overcome the demands of the body to be fed. This practice makes it easier for them to escape the “constraints” of the everyday physical senses during the suspension and is said to open up the doors of perception onto the godhead. This is considered an advanced practice. One should already have experience with fasting and suspension as separate things before putting them together. If you choose to follow this path, let the suspension team know about your choices that day.