What is mindful BDSM and how can it benefit me? by Franki Cookney

The post What is mindful BDSM and how can it benefit me? by Franki Cookney appeared first on FrolicMe.

“Being on the receiving end of a serious spanking creates focus, drowns out all the noise and pumps out happy hormones for better sleep and creative thinking.”

Depending on your sexual tastes, you’re either nodding enthusiastically right now or frowning in incredulity. If the latter then you’re not alone. In the past, you’d have been hard-pressed to find the words “mindful” and “BDSM”  in the same article, never mind the same sentence but now it’s being compared to meditation and tantra and there are even accounts of BDSM being used to help overcome sexual trauma. While no sexual activity should take the place of counselling or therapy, both scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests we are starting to tap into the everyday benefits of mindfully-practised kink.

Helps improve focus

“Impact play helps me focus more on the moment, quieten my thoughts and be more present,” says sex blogger Missus Whispers. “During sex my mind tends to wander to things like “Oh, I need to sort out the meter readings” or “What am I going to cook for dinner?” [With kink] I only have to concentrate on what is being asked of me.”

Supports communication

Madeleine, who asked to be identified only by her first name, says: “The communication and negotiation that is so vital and inherent to these kinds of interactions removes a lot of the stress and anxiety around intimacy for me. I know exactly what my partner wants, I know what’s going to happen and in what order, we have safe words and I know I’m allowed to call a halt at any point.”

And it isn’t just submission that brings mindfulness. Seattle-based pro-domme Katharine Control says: “Negotiated opportunities for training and seduction in D/S relationships are some of the most honest human interactions I have around consent, and that feels liberating and empowering. And I enforce my own boundaries better as a result of receiving someone’s consent for these things.”

Meanwhile, Sophie, who responded to a Twitter request for people’s views on the subject says: “As a top, it brings me to feelings of competence, power and centeredness. On the bottom to a deep connection with my body and the present moment.”

In the past, the practice of bondage‐discipline, dominance‐submission, sadism‐masochism (BDSM) was associated with psychopathology. Until the updated release of the American Psychological Society’s globally recognised classification and diagnostic tool, the DSM-V, in 2013, consensual “sexual sadism, sexual masochism, transvestic fetishism, and fetishism” were deemed “paraphilic disorders”.

Research illustrates support to mental health

There is now an increasing body of research that looks at the role BDSM can play in improving mental health. A recent study looked at how BDSM can reduce stress and increase focus, making us more mindful – both in and out of bed. Furthermore, research shows that kinky sex can elevate feelings of closeness between partners while leaving participants less anxious.

London’s “women only” sex shop, Sh!, whose views on spanking were quoted at the start, point out that pain releases endorphins, which contribute to the feelings of euphoria or what lots of kinksters refer to as “subspace”. But more than that, the intensity of the physical sensation allows people to switch off and really focus on the experience.

Many of us get distracted by non-erotic thoughts during sex at one time or another, whether by anxiety around the sex itself or by external concerns. Sir Dominic, a Sydney-based professional Master and BDSM coach says that this is something he sees a lot with clients.

“In the modern digital world, we are constantly connected. We are being pulled in a hundred different directions at any one time. What I see arising all too often is that my clients are stuck in their heads. They run through the motions and patterns of their life without taking time to feel and be present in their body. I work with them to bring them back into their body and the present moment. This reduces anxiety and other forms of psychological stress.”

woman tied with rope in erotic BDSM image

An aide to relaxation reducing anxiety

Leah Spasova, psychologist and adult sex educator explains that for anxiety-sufferers or neuroatypical people, the control and predictability of a kink scene can help them feel calm and secure which for many is a big difference to the way they experience the rest of the world.

“Consensual, predetermined acts and discussions of safety help them to relax due to an increased feeling of safety, of being taken care of, of being respected, and of working within a defined boundary,” she says. “I had a client with anxiety [who told me that] kink was about being able to not simply predict, but design their sexual experience. This, in turn, reduced their anxiety greatly and allowed them to manage healthy intimate relationships.”

Moreover, the concentration required – whether it’s on receiving pain, obeying instructions, or on reading your partner’s cues, responding and checking in – helps people feel present and fully connected in the moment.

“Focusing on your experience as a bottom during a kink session brings your self-awareness to a greater level, it can be very similar to doing a body scan during meditation,” says Spasova. “Being a good top is about focusing on your partner’s expressions and body language. This requires a mindful focus on the present and also on how you navigate and keep it a positive experience for both parties.”

Man blindfold with girl gently caressing his body in soft erotic BDSM styleAlternative ways to enjoy a more vanilla approach

But if you’re more vanilla than a tub of finest Madagascan ice cream, fear not. For those who don’t enjoy pain, playing with textures, temperatures and touch can also be ways to come “back into your body.” Incorporating ice, hot oils, feathers, silk scarves, massage and light touch can also produce the kind of intensity that allows for increased focus. Selected sensory deprivation – for example using blindfold or headphones with music on – can help you zone in on what’s happening and stop your mind wandering. (image from TITILLATION film a soft BDSM category of film)

Equally, power play doesn’t have to involve bondage. You could simply take it in turns to “lead” the sex session, telling your partner what you want to do, asking them if they’re OK with that and talking about what you did afterwards. This, says Sir Dominic, is a great way to start modelling the advanced and conscious ways that kinky people communicate and negotiate sexual experiences.

“Communication is the most important factor in BDSM and doesn’t just stop once the agreement of when and what play has been made. It continues during play and after the play has ended.”

Spasova agrees: “Vanilla sex can also be mindful and meditative. It is not about the acts – it’s about the attitude. It’s about the approach to the acts and the way these acts are executed – mindfully, respectfully, consensually. Are they allowing for good and safe communication? Are they giving people the opportunity to give and take what they need out of an encounter? Kink practitioners are just more aware of what they give and take from their intimate encounters.”

Franki Cookney is a freelance journalist specialising in sex and relationships, gender politics and social development. You can link to her website and Twitter.

 

 

 

The post What is mindful BDSM and how can it benefit me? by Franki Cookney appeared first on FrolicMe.