Yesterday, Kate on Girly Juice published a fabulous piece called Meditation, Mindfulness, & My Slutty Mouth, which among other topics, discussed the meditative quality she finds in giving blow jobs. It’s a great article, and you should read it. When I read the piece yesterday, I started thinking about my own relationship between sex and mindfulness. For me, I find meditative qualities in impact play.
First off, I never thought I would be interested in impact play. The idea of it did nothing for me. I’d see spanking gifs when browsing through porn, and while it didn’t turn me off, it also didn’t make me want to be spanked. I have definitely always been kinky, but spanking was never an action that interested me. Now and then, my husband would slap my ass, but it was generally in a joking manner and it didn’t get a particular response from me. Paradoxically, though, I was interested in specific types of pain during sex, so I knew there was an element of masochism at hand.
When you browse a lot of kinky porn, it’s hard to escape impact play. That stuff is everywhere, like the ubiquitous cement-and-brick basement with iron bondage equipment that every single BDSM porn shoot seems to use. So naturally I was curious, but in my experience, if a kinky thing didn’t have any fantasy appeal for me, I couldn’t imagine liking it. Despite this disinterest, I felt like I would be denying my scientific geeky side of me if I never gave it a shot. When I asked my husband to hit me a few times in the context of sex, ok, it did a few things for me. I felt like this had some potential.
I picked up a rubber-stranded flogger at my favorite local toy shop, Oh My in Northampton MA. When we started to play with this toy, suddenly I realized that I liked impact play. In fact, I liked it a lot. Fortunately, he shared the same reactions, and a new frontier opened to us.
Fast-forward through many toys and experiments and sexcapades, and I’ve learned quite a bit about my own enjoyment of impact play. Sex itself, whether masturbation or partner sex (or multi-partner sex) is consuming for me. I’m caught up in what’s physically happening, but I’m also in my head a lot, analyzing the acts and the feelings and sometimes putting a fantasy spin on the events I’m experiencing as well. I’m present, but I’m also thinking quite a bit.
With impact play, though, my brain quiets down in a profound way. The sensation of being hit, whether with a hand, a crop, or a flogger, is so specific and so resonant that it leaves my brain no room to analyze or contemplate. I’m completely caught up in the sensation. I don’t always like the sensation, mind you: yes, generally it feels good, but sometimes it hurts… but a good hurt. A clarifying hurt. Whether just plain good or good hurt, though, it puts me precisely in the moment. It’s quite meditative.
This was revealed to me in a fairly obvious way when I went to The Geeky Kink Event last year (recapped with MS Paint drawings in this blog post). I tried the St. Andrew’s Cross, and my husband cuffed me into place and started to go to town on me with two of our floggers. It hurt, and it felt good, and it was a complete waterfall of sensation. He kept checking in on me, though. It felt like every two minutes, he was up near me, asking if I wanted to come down, or if I wanted some water, or anything else. At one point, my arms were going numb so I had him cuff them behind the cross instead of up above me. Then he was back at the floggers again. Finally, when he had checked on me for what felt like an excessive amount, I told him, “You don’t have to check on me every two minutes. I’m fine.” To which he blinked with confusion and responded, “You’ve been up here for over half an hour.” I had no sense that so much time had passed. The sensations were so consuming that I lost track of time.
This meditative, mindful aspect of impact play, for me, is different than how I experience subspace. Subspace is a term given to the altered mental state that submission can produce. (Domspace is also a thing.) For some people, it’s brought on more intensely by pain, or certain aspects of kink. For me, pain and extreme surprise can put me into subspace, but my mind doesn’t quiet down in subspace. Instead, I’m caught up in my partner and how to please them, and I tend to get either babbly or nonverbal, unable to put sentences together properly. I don’t lose track of time.
Impact play, though, doesn’t necessarily make me feel subby, although they can go together. Impact play quiets me in a way that other types of sex play don’t. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, there’s nothing like bending over the bed and whiting out mental noise with physical sensation. We don’t play as hard as some people; I don’t bruise afterward and we don’t break the skin. Even so, it’s intense physical contact and it makes me exist fully in my body, letting my mind relax and think of nothing.
This is also how I felt when getting my tattoos, especially my octopus tattoo, which was almost five straight hours of tattooing. I didn’t bother to bring a book because I knew the experience itself would be all I would need to focus on. When they see the tattoo, people ask, “Did it hurt?” and that’s the wrong question for me. I always answer, “Yes, a lot, but I like it.” And then smile. The focused discomfort of a tattoo needle clears my mind the same way impact play clears my mind. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s the right kind of uncomfortable.
Sometimes I’m too much in my head. Impact play, though, gets me out of my head, into my body, and into the moment.
Which is a pretty damn cool experience overall.