Why I like Kink and BDSM

When I tell people I’m a fan of kink or BDSM, there are usually three possible responses. Many people have no idea what I’m talking about. Others wonder why someone on the path of personal growth would be interested in something abusive and violent as BDSM. And then there are some who understand and are happy to find someone who agrees.

Thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey and the many erotic novels that followed in its wake, BDSM – or the SM part of it, has become more mainstream as a flavor in the bedroom. But the picture these stories sketch a very limited, and in my opinion unhealthy, picture of this erotic art form.

So what is it that I like about BDSM? And how can it be an actual tool for personal growth?

What is BDSM?

The picture many people have when they understand what BDSM can be about is a situation in which a dominant man, wrapped in black leather, is hurting and/or forcefully fucking a tied up or tied down submissive woman.

Which is one possible situation. But BDSM is much more than that and, in my experience, in many cases not at all about penetrative sex.

Let’s start with the abbreviation. BDSM is an interesting combination of letters that stand for several things. There is a lot of amazing information to find on the web, so let me just share my perspective on these things:

B/D – Bondage and Discipline

This is about the freedom, or rather taking away the freedom, from moving freely. This can be done literally through the use of ropes or other means to tie someone and take away options to move. It can also be done by commands (‘Don’t move.’) without the use of physical restraints.

There are many ways of tying someone up – some can really be considered art. Because it takes years of practice, but also because the knots can be so beautiful!

D/s – Domination and submission

Notice the capitalization. This is the play of polarities between people. With consent, one takes the leading role, where the other follows. Instead of what is often assumed, the power lies actually with the surrendering person. They are the one saying what is okay and what is not before the play starts, and they can also pause or stop the play at any time (to me, any other form of playing with power is abusive and not part of conscious kink). The Dom/me is like the tour guide, knowing where they want to take their trustee, but adapting the way to get there constantly. The Dom/me is therefore basically in service of the submissive.

Also, being submissive is often seen as a passive part. It’s not. The best subs are the ones very alive, constantly responding to the Dom/me, and definitely not passively laying down, allowing whatever the Dom/me sees fit being done to them.

I like it best when the sub is responsive, showing me what they like and what they don’t. When they test me, see how deep I’m willing to take them.

Of course, there are many ways of playing this game. The Dom/Domme is definitely not necessarily dressed in leather or rubber. They can lead from a full spectrum of feminine or masculine flavors. Some of my favorite sessions were in daily clothes, arising spontaneously in the moment.

S&M – Sadism and masochism

This is basically the part where pain is involved, either receiving (or doing to oneself) which is masochism, or the joy in giving pain (sadism). The fun in pain is, that is can bring you to interesting places inside yourself. Pain releases hormones in your brains, just like sporting or drugs can do. It gives you a high. It can also be an interesting way, as a giver of pain, to release trauma or pain in a consenting way. I do encounter people in the scene who use receiving pain as a way to reinforce their negative feelings about themselves, or giving pain as a way to release frustration. Again, to me this is abusive.

What makes kink conscious?

The link between BDSM and abuse is made easily, and for a reason. Some flavors of BDSM can look pretty violent, and sometimes they are. There can be piercing of skin, props and toys that could be abusive and dangerous when used wrongly,  and of course it can look pretty dark with leather corsets and black belts. There can be people forcefully trying to release themselves from anger and frustration through Domming, as well as there are subs who play that role because it reinforces their beliefs of being worthless. Which definitely doesn’t create the conscious I mean when I talk about conscious kink.

Conscious kink is using the different aspects of BDSM play as a way to go deeper within, just like for example yoga, meditation, dialogue techniques like circling or nonviolent communication, or even therapy can do.

What makes kink conscious is using it as a tool to create a journey inside, or to facilitate this journey for another person. In conscious kink, a Dom/me isn’t a person who whips, tortures or humiliates; it’s rather the guide of a journey like the shaman in your ayahuasca journey, or your business coach. The submissive isn’t the helpless subject of impact, but someone consciously choosing to step into this journey. And, as nothing is as predictable as it may look in kink, it may be the other way around as well, where the submissive is actually the guide of the journey where the Dom/me is getting imprints of taking lead and power.

BDSM as a path of personal growth

Why would you let someone hurt you, or tell you what to do as a path for growth?

Because you feel excited by the thought, even if it’s mixed with apprehension. When you don’t feel excited, this path might not be for you – just like yoga or meditation aren’t for everyone. But if you do, treasures might be here for you, just as there were, and are, for me.

This is a paragraph from my (yet) unpublished book Bear, A Quest for Love on the Edge of Sexuality:

Turn towards the side and bend over my knee.” Without hesitation I do what Bear says. He strokes my upper legs, buttocks and back with the cane that he took from the case. Apparently he’s making me taste all kinds of different flavors of pain. Softly he starts tapping me with it. It hurts a bit but the pain is not too bad. He increases the impact. There’s a sharp pain after each beat, turning into a glow. Suddenly he hits me harder. That hurts!

“Now do you want me to beat you fifty times or a hundred times?” He asks as he keeps tapping me with the cane, keeping the pain at a level which is easily bearable.

“Are there also other options?” I ask. Fifty sounds like a lot.

“Fifty times or a hundred times is what I asked.”

“Okay. Fifty times, then.” I answer, taking the lowest number.

“I will hit you hard fifty times and I want you to count aloud. The softer tapping in between doesn’t count. Breathe into the sensations, surrender.”

He starts alternating the tapping with hard beating. I feel I’m resisting the pain, wondering why on earth I was allowing this, while trying to count out loud. Each time my body tenses, it seems Bear waits until I relax again before hitting hard again. I feel that resisting the pain makes it worse. Allowing it fully makes it more bearable. Gradually my mind numbs and I feel myself drifting off into a space where my mind is still and I relax into the beating. But then the pain wins again and I feel more resistance.

“Thirty-four. I think.”

“Are you sure or shall I start from one?”

“I’m sure!”

Almost there. I don’t want him to start over. I still I feel doubt whether I like this, but I’m determined to make this to the end, I feel too curious what this would do to me and how it would make me feel. And too proud to say apple tree.

“Fifty!” Finally, I made it. Bear stops and I sit carefully back on my knees, observing the sensations in my body.

“How do you feel?”

My eyes are burning with strength. 

“I feel powerful. Strong. Proud. I feel beautiful and sexy.”

“I can see that. You look so powerful, so strong. You know, I like that so much about you. You have a fire inside you. We all have that fire, but you found a way to let it show. You show people that fire, that power. Whatever you do, please keep doing that.”

I look Bear in his eyes and feel surprised about the love and pride I see in his soft face. Where did that come from? He caresses my face and I enjoy the sweetness.“

Where Tantra and Kink meet

Tantra, to me, means being in the moment with whatever is present. In sex, this means to me that I don’t strive towards an orgasm (or try avoiding it), but rather embrace all that I’m feeling. Even when that’s boredom, anger or sadness. A lot is said in Tantra about masculinity and femininity, the two poles that we all have inside us, where masculinity stands for goal-orientedness, drive, focus, holding space and structure, and femininity for nurturing, flow, and sensuality (whereby masculinity is often linked to being man/male, and femininity to being woman/female – which isn’t necessarily correct and another discussion of its own). Tantra has taught me to trace the flow of sensations in my body, and how to stimulate the intensity of feeling.

Kink, with its play of Dom/me and submissive, roles that I prefer to call leading and following, plays further in a very embodied way with these principles of masculinity and femininity. By explicitly labeling ‘tasks’ and stepping into them, these polarities can be experienced in a felt sense, creating imprints: markers in time and space that you don’t just grasp with your thinking mind, but have felt in your body, therewith creating the possibility to change neural responses and rewire your system for real.

Besides this, I like that Kink helps us to embrace even more of everything that we are than Tantra usually welcomes in the classroom: not just our emotions and meditative self are welcomed, but also the lusty, bitchy and conquering parts. How can these parts become allies on your path?

Where to find Conscious Kink?

If you’re curious about playing kinky, you might become curious to find places to explore.

Ever heard of Fetlife? It’s like Kinky Facebook, a place where you can meet other people interested in BDSM, events, and inspiration. A good place to start is a munch, often located in a pub, where like-minded people meet and chat.

Some general advice: never play just like that in a private space with someone you haven’t met before. Agree on the rules by which you play and set them before you start playing. Know that kinky play doesn’t need to include sex – and if you have sex, think about safer sex methods.

Also, check my calendar for Kinky Tantra and Play Parties!

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