This post isn’t mine. I found it on The Consentual Master blog. I am re-posting it without permission (yet). I hope he doesn’t mind. He wrote far better than I ever could some of what I was trying to convey in Practicing My Religion. That’s what I get for trying to pervert EVERYTHING all at once.
Throughout history man has attempted to attain altered states of consciousness through the use of intoxicants, emotional stimulus, and meditative trances. This has been a major focus in the spiritual path of many mystics and religious groups but has certainly not been limited to them. In the 60’s an entire drug culture grew up around it that is still integrated into our society and belief system. Ecstasy, known as the love drug, is considered one of the most dangerous drugs threatening young people today. Man has an instinctive drive to connect to something greater than he is. I use “man” here in reference to human without gender recognition. We are all the same here and, in this, gender is insignificant.
In the late 18th century, the Marquis de Sade published a number of books showing the joys of inflicting and receiving pain. This was his obsession and greatest contribution to society. Here he began to show the transcendental states that can be attained through the use and implementation of pain. Before this, it was primarily the Monks, mystics, and religious zealots that used these techniques to bring them closer to their god. The Marquis showed that this could be used just for pleasure without any greater meaning. The term sadism is based on him and, to many, he is considered the father of sadomasochism. Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings a novella, by the Marquis de Sade, is widely considered to be a masterpiece of eighteenth-century French literature. The Marquis de Sade was not the first to use this, however, as a form of sexual and emotional pleasure. The Kama Sutra, in the 2nd century CE, told of consensual face slapping as a form of arousal. In the late 1400’s, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, wrote about a man that needed to be flogged in order to become sexually aroused and in 1886 Krafft-Ebing wrote Psychopathia Sexualis: The Case Histories (Solar Books – Solar Asylum). The book is well known for coining such terms as sadism, masochism, and fetish. There have been a lot of references to sado-sexual pleasures throughout history.
Meditation has long been know to stimulate an altered state. This has been around as long as sex itself. In prehistoric times, man used chanting as a form of meditation. This is still being used. Meditation and religion have always been closely related. Tantra is a great example of this. Neotantra or Tantric sex was a natural evolution of this philosophy.
How does all of this relate to BDSM, Dominance and submission, or TPE relationships? It’s simple really. All of this throughout the centuries has been about achieving an altered state. In the modern BDSM lifestyle subspace is a common term and many also relate to Dom or Top space. This is a floaty kind of sensation that many strive for. It satisfies that urge for an altered state of consciousness that so many seek and so few find. Unfortunately, without understanding it fully, there is the tendency to have undesirable results. Sub crash is also a well known term. If the altered state is not managed consciously and knowingly, it can easily go in an undesired direction.
If an altered state of consciousness is something that we seek to attain through BDSM then how can we achieve it safely and reduce the risk of unwanted repercussions? As the use of drugs is illegal in most places I won’t discuss that in detail but, if this is the route you choose, please be careful. The dangers are tremendous. Sadomasochism is well documented and the first thing I would recommend is becoming familiar with SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual ) and RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). These philosophies can help to make your journey manageable and help everyone get what they desire from the adventure. Next, become knowledgeable of any form of torture or sadistic treatment you desire to give or receive. Learn from someone you trust or from books but know the dangers and risks associated with whatever you wish to do. Finally, understand the psychology of what you seek.
Subspace is frequently triggered by a sympathetic nervous system response brought on by the pain being received. This can lead to the release of epinephrine into the system and cause, what is sometimes known as, ego reduction. Freud coined the term ego to describe the conscious adult self. This reduction allows us to release our focus on the physical self, to the point where many report a reduction or elimination of the sensation of pain, and reach for something beyond or greater than themselves. A slave can become the canvas for the Masters work.
Topspace is similar but works in the opposite direction. Instead of epinephrine being released, adrenaline is poured into the system. The top becomes hyper focused on the bottom to the point that they can sense them. They have the sensation of extending beyond themselves and becoming more than the ego tells them they are.
Sadomasochism is the most common way of achieving this altered state in a BDSM relationship but there are others. When you think of what happens through giving and receiving pain you can see that the release of the chemicals is merely a trigger to what is actually sought. It is the state of being and consciousness that those chemicals help us to attain. These can also be achieved without chemical intervention. Meditation has been used longer than anything else to stimulate these states of awareness and being. Transcendental meditation has actually become it’s own religion. Before that, though, was Tantra. All forms of meditation, however, rely on ritual. The BDSM lifestyle is littered with rituals that can be used to accomplish this state of being. Understand that this state of bliss and euphoria comes about through the reduction of ego. When you focus on a ritual to the point of blocking out all other awareness, you become one with the ritual and more than your sense of self. At this point, through practice, that state of being can be achieved.
There are many different alternative lifestyles out there but few have as many ways to reach Nirvana as BDSM. Many see it for just the fetish and kink aspects of it but there is so much more. The opportunity for spiritual awakening, altered awareness, total bliss and perfect harmony is everywhere you look in this lifestyle. You simply need to be willing to see beyond the surface.