BDSM & Trauma Healing: Making space for your inner pervert

Recently, I have had the pleasure of articulating the reasons myself and other kinksters have experienced profound states of release, and an overall sense of wholeness and healing thru the practices of BDSM. I understand that If you haven’t tried it, or even if you had negative experiences being dominated (in any capacity) you may not be inclined towards kink. It can be terrifying to surrender your body, mind and spirit over to the care, or in this case, twisted care of another. And as a professional dominant, I can assure you, care, compassion, and consent are at the heart of any good BDSM scene.  

Ironically it is my experience as a submissive that has empowered me to become the dominant, empowered woman I am today. Hence, it is also why I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for my submissive clients. I have been at the mercy of a paddle begging for more; I have been cut open, spilling my blood in sacrifice; I have been suspended helplessly from a hook, surrendering my body, mind and heart.    

At times, it has felt the more I submitted, the more empowered I felt in my daily life.

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As a sexual assault survivor it became imperative for me to have deep trust and vulnerability built into sexual and erotic experiences. I needed to learn to release control on a deep visceral level, changing the imprint past trauma had marked me with on a cellular level. I needed new marks - new associations with pain and power.  

However, it wasn’t long before I knew I needed to be on the other end of the whip. Hence my career as a professional dominant was born, ever increasing my respect for consent and safety.

I believe in the power of attraction and calling in what serves you. I believe my background as a survivor of sexual assault and my framework of approaching kink thru a healing lens attracts clients who want that experience. Some knowingly, others subconsciously. Those that have known about past traumas, and have come ready to process them, have often found tremendous healing.

Still, it is confusing - a paradox even:

How can being beaten, stripped of your power, and hurt result in healing?

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It all starts with trust. Which is why all my sessions begin with a series of questions about your known boundaries and limits, as well as your desires and fantasies. When we engage in informed consent we empower each other to fully express ourselves authentically and honestly. We also create a container to open safely, knowing the other person knows and is agreeing to respect our boundaries. The safer we feel, the more we can open.

I had a client come to me for some intense nipple torture, golden showers, and some light verbal degradation. He was in the middle of processing early childhood abuse from his mother who had physically and verbally assaulted him. I asked him what parts of his body were off limits and he explained while he wanted his nipples to be played with, he didn’t want any touch in the center of his chest. As we began to play and I brought my hands close to his nipples, he began to curl up; his hands becoming fists rising off the ground getting ready to protect his chest. I encouraged him to continue to curl up, to follow the impulse to protect himself, all the while assuring him I would not be hurting him. The irony was, I was hurting him, but with his consent and on the parts of his body we had negotiated.

This is everything for a trauma survivor. This is the moment the brain senses the old familiar feeling of pain, terror, helplessness, and learns to override it with a sense of pleasure, trust, and safety. In fact, the place in our brain that senses pleasure is very close to the part of our brain that senses pain. Some might even say pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin.

A rewiring of the brain takes place. New pathways of trust, care and wholeness are created in the place of what was once abuse. This is the magic of kink - the holy paradox of bringing such darkness to light.

The same healing takes place for those parts of ourselves we hide in shame, fear or neglect. We all hold fear, pain and shame around our sexuality - unfortunately there is no shortage of shaming and condemning of sexual and erotic energy in our society. Whether it is an overt trauma or insidious subtle messaging that your fantasy or behavior is “slutty”, “dirty” or promiscuous, these hurts keep us from experiencing our full, liberated selves.

I believe it is possible to experience true liberation within ourselves and feel into our deepest desires. A way to explore the deepest darkest parts of ourselves, release our shame, and uncover our truths. I see myself as a guide in this journey - a devoted ally to your healing and reemergence.

I’m not the only one who has experienced the profound effects of what I like to call erotic medicine. For more reading, please check out my friend and colleague, Mistress Couple, Head Mistress of La Domaine Esemar, the world’s oldest BDSM training chateau, and her most recent article on the topic.

If you’re still skeptical, this article in GO Mag also offers more perspective and experience.

In shameless love and pain,

xxx

Sonora




Pain: Our Greatest Teacher

Sometimes the only way we can learn something is by feeling it; by truly experiencing a sensation deep enough to shake us to our bones. My father calls this the "two by four method", and used to say the only way I ever learned was when I was hit over the head with the information. I don't think he understood how literal this has turned out to be true. 

I am a kinesthetic learner, which means I learn by tactile experiences; by touching, tasting, smelling, and seeing rather than hearing or reading. This means that I need to engage my senses, particularly my body in order to understand my relationship to the subject at hand. Perhaps this is why I lean towards the sensual arts and kink...  

Sometimes the felt experience is subtle: when I am listening to someone speak I often need to move my body or be touched (always down for a massage!). Other times it is more overt: when I fall while dancing or cut my finger chopping veggies. In the more extreme cases, the pain becomes my greatest teacher, showing me something I could not have learned on my own. 

When I experience great pain, whether it be physical or emotional, I have a barometer to work with. It is as if my body can read that the gas tank is empty and I need to pull over. I can lean into the pain and listen. Often it speaks very clearly: "slow down" or "let go" or "focus". 

There are times when pain can seem debilitating, as if I have no choice but to focus on it and sit with the anger and frustration it breeds. But this is precisely when the teachings begin... It is in this moment I can open up to the pain and listen to it like an old friend sharing a story. I sit with the wisdom the pain shares - and it will talk - you only have to listen. I can slowly start to release the narrative that the pain has control over me - that this pain, whether it be emotional or physical, gets to decide my next move. 

What happens next is a shift in perception: a turning toward what is possible instead of what may seemed to set you back. As someone who dances, practices yoga, and runs as part of my daily health and wellness practice, I went thru this experience when I sprained my ankle trying to take a shortcut over a fence. Initially the injury gave me very clear wisdom: taking a short cut now will not get me where I am going in the long run. After sitting with the pain and all of the subsequent feelings of dread, I realized my ankle was just a very small part of my body. I still had my arms and head, my chest and stomach, and even my left leg which could still hop around. I saw a clear path towards strengthening my upper body while my ankle healed. Miraculously I was back on two feet within a day - my sprained ankle healed completely within a few weeks because I was able to give it rest and attention while also not feeding the story it was completely debilitated. 

Faith and trust are a big part of the process of accepting and moving thru pain. You have to know you will be okay and that the pain you might be feeling is going to change and ultimately feel better. It may not be comfortable but it can bring you wisdom you may not find anywhere else, so it is worth feeling. 

This is exactly why BDSM and specifically, impact play can be incredibly healing. It can be a way to experience the teachings and guidance you receive in daily life without having to wait for those experiences to happen to you. Seeking out these experiences can be empowering and ultimately, healing. I like to think of it as bringing the dark to the light instead of being surprised when the dark shows up in your light.  

It may seem crazy to seek out pain, but for those of us who are masochists and sadists, we may actually be tapping into the full potential of the human experience. When we consent to being hurt, we may be inviting in what is already there, what already exists within us. This can help to create space for the pain so that it does not overwhelm us when we encounter it unexpectedly.  

I am grateful for all the pain I have experienced in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without its often harsh reality checks. It is these sensations - the throbbing, aching, stinging, thudding, beating, breaking that lets us know we are alive. Reminds us of our mortality and keeps our ego in check. 

"There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - Carl G. Jung 

 

Returning to the Beginner's Mind

When I first began the practice of meditation I felt myself wild, unfocused, and ultimately, untamable. Perhaps a part of me that still exists in my kinky side. ;) ...I wasn't sure how to calm my mind and for the life of me, I could not sit still. It took a lot of patience and a whole lot of self-will to begin the practice of seated meditation; to sit with my running thoughts, my worried mind, and my racing heart.

I began in small doses. A few minutes at a time here and there. Then I worked up to trying 10 minutes in the mornings, slowly building in consistency...it took me a while before I committed to sitting for 10 minutes everyday for one whole week. Once I could do a week, I tried a month, challenging myself to a long term process of discipline and self-study.

Even though sitting still for 10 minutes first thing in the morning wasn't always what I wanted to do and some mornings felt like torture, it did become more manageable. My thoughts began to settled down. My heart felt less anxious. My body began to calm. I could feel my insides shifting and I slowly began to see this shift reflected all around me.

My practice has shifted over the years since that time. I have found meditation in movement: thru yoga and dance, walking and cooking, as well as massage and energy work. I have increased my capacity for focused meditation up to 1 to 2 hours as often as I can, spending most of my days in some form of embodied meditative practice, and for this I couldn't be more grateful.

My life has vastly changed, yet there are still moments where those running thoughts, that worried mind, that racing heart comes back to me. They show up when I least expect them to, or even when I think I am doing everything right. (The important word there is think.

It is this beginner's mind I must always attend to. This place of not knowing what will happen next or how things will unfold. It is a practice of letting go and surrendering to the mystery of life. It is a practice of acceptance and gratitude: being grateful I don't have to know everything and be in charge. It can look like being willing to not be Allowing things to be as they really are without forcing them to change. Tho, that doesn't mean I don't accept responsibility for myself and my actions. It just means that I can humble myself my being honest and authentic and focusing on the only thing I can change: me.

It is said that anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but thinking you can control the future. This is why the practice of meditation is helpful. It can help us to quiet our thinking so we can become clear about what is ours to take responsibility for and what is in the power of the universe to carry out.

For some ways to begin or return to a beginner's mind, here are some helpful links:

*Meditating on Breakfast and other simple instructions for meditation

* Tara Brach on How to Meditate with Downloadable Free Booklet

*Guided Meditation for Stress & Anxiety

*Guided Meditation for Sleep (Yoga Nidra)

*Gentle Yoga Sequences (Beginner Friendly)