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Spirituality & bdsm

topic posted Mon, November 12, 2007 - 10:53 AM by  teamnoir
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People occasionally ask me about how bdsm & spirituality interact. This scene description is a lovely example of one of the ways that I see this happening.

tribes.tribe.net/newtobdsm...65fa8e6735
posted by:
teamnoir
SF Bay Area
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  • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

    Mon, November 12, 2007 - 10:48 PM
    That is a really good description of someone getting through a fear/anxiety loop that is built up around a particular phobia (that "can't" that the author talks about). It's not necessarily gonna work for every fear/anxiety loop, but it's a good tool to know about, and a good thing that someone is out there professionally dealing with these things.

    For me, bdsm is more about the addition of endorphins to the rest of the biochemical coctail of orgasm than it is about facing fears regarding my own boundaries. Once I get my vibration up high enough with "vanilla" activities, I enjoy having the additional boost that a bit of pain enduces. But I don't think I want--or need--things piercing my flesh in that fashion.

    I don't get off on the shame or slavery games, and I'm not real fond of anything that leaves public marks. Does that mean I don't "get it" when it comes to scenes such as this author described? Does this mean that I'm not into "real" bdsm? Or does it indicate that my healing needs are of a different quality/aspect than those blood-drawing activities can induce?
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      Re: Spirituality & bdsm

      Thu, November 15, 2007 - 9:16 PM
      For this I go back to my potato chip metaphor. There are dozens of flavors/types of potato chip, designed to cater to the diversity of taste in the consumer. Not every chip appeals to every person. BDSM works for some...and for some very well. But it is not a cure all or panacea. Neither is Tantra or any other path. No one path is goona work or be appopriate for every single human being.That's why we have so many belief systems and paths to elightenment/heaven/nirvana/whatever.

      BDSM works well for TeamNoir. It does not work for me. But I am happy for TN that he is able to use it to grow so much.
      • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

        Thu, November 22, 2007 - 10:49 PM
        So let me ask here:
        What IS it about BDSM that makes it such a powerful tool for growth?

        Is it people meeting their pain boundaries and going beyond them?
        Is it people meeting their emotional boundaries and going beyone them?
        Is it the ability to see new sides of yourself that you didn't know were there?
        Is it the need for letting go of the ordinary perspective and get into the scene?
        Am I missing something in my interpretation of other's reactions based on my own reactions to such situations?

        Or am I missing the point entirely?
        • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

          Sat, November 24, 2007 - 9:46 AM
          Yes, all of these are involved for me and for many others.

          But the real underlying factor is that it's a community of people, who are all similarly interested in exploring themselves, their relationships, and their world, who also have a shared value for personal development, for play, and where very little is actually taboo. It's a subculture devoted to all of this, including support networks, communal wisdom, classes, social events, play events, books, etc. Sex is allowed. Pain is allowed. Bondage is allowed. Turning pretty much any personal dynamic or social pattern you can think of on it's ear is allowed. It's socially encouraged, in many circles.

          If you want to see what it's like to take lsd and role play fucking your 7yo sister, the bdsm community can help you learn how to go about that reasonably safely as well as helping you find suitable partners and put your head back together after you've freaked out from trying it. That level of acceptance, of the embracing of our humanity through play and through joy, is something I hear lip service to from tantric circles, pagan circles, etc, but which I've only seen actually practiced in the bdsm community.

          I should be more clear. The bdsm community, like any other, has a range of people involved for a range of reasons. Not every bdsm player has an interest in self development. Many are simply there because they get their rocks off from doing something the rest of the world considers strange. However, there are a lot of people in the bdsm community not because they need to call someone "daddy" in order to get off, but rather because they want to see what happens if they mix big emotional archetypes like "daddy" with strong personal drives like sex. And the people who need to call someone "daddy" in order to get off are often the people who are teaching us how to do that.
        • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

          Sat, November 24, 2007 - 11:12 AM
          The interesting thing about BDSM for me (and I have merely dabbled at the fringes of it) is the energy play involved. When it comes to events, I tend toward the voyeuristic end of things and I find that I can reach an energy high just watching a flogging or other intense scene as an observer.

          I do wonder sometimes if some of the participants are aware of the energy they're playing with and the potential for both good and for harm which is being manipulated. I sense that some of the skilled veteran players have a pretty good understanding but there are also others who do seem to play with it just for the *kink* thrill.

          It occurs to me that it could be very easy for a novice to open themselves up to some fairly vampirish energy play without being aware of it to their own determent. Some basic training would, I think, be a good idea before jumping into this kind of energy play.

          Hmmm...just got me to thinking...


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            Re: Spirituality & bdsm

            Sat, November 24, 2007 - 1:51 PM
            <It occurs to me that it could be very easy for a novice to open themselves up to some fairly vampirish energy play without being aware of it to their own determent. Some basic training would, I think, be a good idea before jumping into this kind of energy play. >

            Yes, indeed. Vampiric and predatory behaviour is rampant in BDSM, and it's worse when people get spiritual tools in addition to BDSM and then run with scissors. But it's all a learning experience. What comes around goes around. Karma evens things out.

            I don't think training is going to fix the problem. Sometimes you have to burn your fingers on the stove before you heed your mother's warning not to touch it. If warning and training worked, kids would listen to their parents and never try things for themselves.

            And sometimes it is karma to go through a hellish experience with another human.

            So, putting energy toward picking up the pieces would, IMHO, be a better use of resources.
            • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

              Sat, November 24, 2007 - 4:57 PM
              "If warning and training worked, kids would listen to their parents and never try things for themselves."

              This may be true regarding children but I do hope that those who chose a path of sexual exploration, especially one as potent as BDSM are adults and can engage with a bit of awareness as adults. I fully advocate consensual energy play but I feel it is something that can (and should) be approached with a level of maturity.

              I would hope, at the very least, that those who are serious about the spiritual aspects of this kind of exchange would be willing to do a little homework not only in order to offer others a quality experience but to also protect themselves from energy vampirism. BDSM is, after all, touted as a sexual path that is explored with intention.

              I don't agree with the idea that getting burned is the best approach to learning nor that "putting energy toward picking up the pieces would be a better use of resources". Sometimes, the damage can't be undone that easily and it seems far more logical to avoid "hellish" experiences in the first place.

              We are talking about *adults* aren't we?


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                Re: Spirituality & bdsm

                Sat, November 24, 2007 - 7:39 PM
                That's making the assumption that adults will make wise and informed decisions, especially if someone is there to "train" them. That's making the assumption the adults in question had a solid foundation growing up, or that they have enough of their shit fixed by therapy before they enter BDSM.

                I think most adults ignore warnings and do what they want and get themselves burned anyway. I've seen so many people get a few tools and go running with scissors.

                So, why waste time and energy with warnings and information that will mostly get ignored?

                If adults didn't need someone to pick up the pieces, we wouldn't have therapists.
                • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

                  Sat, November 24, 2007 - 8:30 PM
                  "why waste time and energy with warnings and information that will mostly get ignored?"

                  Because, not everyone ignores it and if even one person is detered from a "hellish" experience, I happen to think it's worth it.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Spirituality & bdsm

                    Sat, November 24, 2007 - 11:27 PM
                    ***sigh***

                    Just cuz you give someone warnings and they don't listen doesn't mean you should not give out future warnings. When someone runs a red light it doesn't mean logically that all red lights should be turned off because someone will run them anyway.

                    I've had more than one student NOT listen to warnings, and jump into situations which would be dangerous without someone looking over their shoulder. Some of these situations involved BDSM relationships that should have been crafted with more care, but some involved monogamous vanilla relationships. The common denominator was not BDSM, but Tantra....and exuberant early students.

                    Yes, the BDSM community is rife with Vampirism...but so is the Pagan community, the Recovery community, the Folk Music community, the Art community, etc etc. Anywhere you have community, and an opportunity for energy to be released, you have vampires.
              • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

                Sun, November 25, 2007 - 8:24 AM
                "I would hope, at the very least, that those who are serious about the spiritual aspects of this kind of exchange would be willing to do a little homework not only in order to offer others a quality experience but to also protect themselves from energy vampirism."

                It's my experience that "energy vampirism" is a perspective of victimization which is usually taken by people who lack either suitable boundaries or a suitable expectation of a particular social environment. While I'm certainly capable of falling into that trap periodically, I don't think it's a particularly useful rabbit hole and certainly not a particularly empowering one.

                I think there's value in both reading and talking with people before practice as well as in experimental practice. Different approaches for different people. And in different balances.
            • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

              Sun, November 25, 2007 - 8:19 AM
              "Yes, indeed. Vampiric and predatory behaviour is rampant in BDSM, and it's worse when people get spiritual tools in addition to BDSM and then run with scissors. But it's all a learning experience. What comes around goes around. Karma evens things out."

              This seems like a highly subjective judgment to me. One person's vampiric and predatory behavior is another person's exciting come-on. And misunderstandings happen in all corners of life.

              For example, in the d/s realm, some people want to get to know each other before agreeing to power exchange. Other people expect there to be some chemical charge immediately, which translates into d/s immediately. (And others never want power exchange, they want something entirely different, like SM). When a dom in the first camp meets a sub in the second, the result is that the sub claims the dom isn't "really" a dom. When a dom in the second camp meets a sub in the first, the sub often complains about doms with undue expectations, or people who won't negotiate before play.

              Put another way, "On your knees, bitch!" is a very risky opening line. But sometimes it works really well.

              One thing one learns in the bdsm scene pretty quickly is that there is no single right way of doing it. Lots of ways work. And many different ways work for different people.

              And for the record, the bdsm scene offers both training for those who are interested and willing to listen as well as "pick up the pieces" support groups. I believe that both have value.
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                Re: Spirituality & bdsm

                Sun, November 25, 2007 - 7:54 PM
                Yes, it is a subjective judgement. Most opinions are. ;->

                I just have one correction. The BDSM scene in New York and the west coast have the training and support you mention. the scene where I live does not have adequate support or anything close to what you're talking about.

                AND here's another thought. I have noticed that sometimes TeamNoir likes to play devil's advocate and post things that are controversial or go in a different direction from everyone else. Because if he didn't, a lot of the conversations on Tribe would be boring, with everyone agreeing with eachother. I thought I'd give that a try. Personally, I don't believe in victims. period. (And those of you who read my LJ know this because I have posted it often enough). Which means for me, vampirism is non-existent. I played with the idea for a while when I was hurting from a relationship. But in the end, I could not believe in vampirism because I could not believe in a victim mentality.
          • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

            Sun, November 25, 2007 - 8:04 AM
            "I do wonder sometimes if some of the participants are aware of the energy they're playing with and the potential for both good and for harm which is being manipulated."

            I think this is really a matter of perspective.

            While I can work in terms of "energy" sometimes, mostly I'm working in terms of things that are far more concrete - things I can see, feel, or hear in this plane of existence. One of the wonderful things for me is that the bdsm scene tends to talk and teach in terms of specifics. I can't tell you how much more comforting, education, practical, and useful that is by comparison to people who teach about "energy".

            When comparing one instructor who talks about "well, you know, that stuff, energy" vs another instructor who talks about stress levels, tension in the body, specific gestures, visual and tactile calibration to learn to recognize those changes, the second instructor will get my attention every time. Those tools are simply far more powerful for me, and in general in my opinion.

            I happen to really like French cooking - subtle flavors, gentle, complex, rich. I don't care for cuisine that works with chile hot, like macho Mexican. I've been quote widely on the internet as saying, "Sex can hurt. Food should not." To me, Mexican macho chile hot isn't strong energy. It's just wasted energy because I'm not going to eat it.

            In contrast, working with bdsm is much easier for me. The energies are right here, right in my face. They are familiar because I've been working with them for a long time. They are my allies, my friends, my memorized spell book. The subtleties of many "wiccan" rituals and the typical het vanilla tantra class are much more difficult, in my opinion, precisely because it's more difficult to see what's going on. It's like the difference between working under surgical lights vs working in a dark room. It's simply easier to be much more precise when you can see what's going on - when the things you are working with are illuminated in stark relief.

            So, yes, I'm well aware and so are many others that what we're working with might look to you like heavy machinery. While we generally respect the power of what we're working with, we also seek to claim it, to own it, to control it rather than allowing it to control us. And some of the things we do with it, like mock it, play with it, flirt with it, and fuck with it, are aimed at cutting it down to a size that we can work with and control.

            I don't agree about the potential for abuse. I mean, yes, the bdsm scene has plenty of potential for abuse. But from where I sit, the blind adherence to rules and the willingness to follow gurus that seems so common to eastern practices like tantra and yoga looks like a far more dangerous realm to me. In bdsm, we generally teach a very healthy form of self reliance and suspicion of authority. So that sort of blind obedience really only happens to naive and/or rash people and I'm sure that naive and ignorant people exist in all corners of life.
            • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

              Sun, November 25, 2007 - 10:01 PM
              I agree that people who speak only of "energy" are being vague and not giving quite enough information to make anything really work. These are good jumping off points into the stuff that helps people change.

              However, stress levels and body tension ARE energy. They are the energy that begins with the brain and ends at the muscles, that energy that makes us act and react.

              Nerves work on ionic energy transfer--negatively charged nerves flip to a positive charge in a fraction of a second. It's my opinion that this nervous system energy is what creates the reactions that people call "aura' and "psychic" energies. I also beleive that this is the same energy that becomes tangible to people practicing Tantra.

              None of this is proved scientifically---I haven't figured out how that would be done. But as a hypothesis, it works with what you are saying. Energy without a physical manifestation is much more difficult to learn about and understand than energy with a phycial basis.
  • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

    Sun, November 25, 2007 - 9:45 AM
    monitoring this thread, two images come to mind:

    1) At Goa's Arjuna Beach late-1990s hippie flea market, there was an American photographer who would set up his table each week. His stock in trade was a series of B&W glossy photos made up as postcards. Each would feature a different Sadhu ....some sporting ritual amputations (It was rumored that after the guy cut off his limb, they'd sit around and have a feast)...another snapshot showed a guy dragging a choo-choo train down the track by his dick,...all as a way of showing non-attachment to the physical, I suppose.
    There was one sadhu picture of a guy who had his dick pierced with a large funky bar of steel, with chain welded to it. He'd run the chain down and around up by the crack of his ass and attached the chain in back to a wide leather belt worn around his waist. ....And they say that lying on a bed of nails is X-treme.

    2) I know some native american guys who sport these hideous large knotted scars on their chests from sacred SunDancing. They have their pectorals pierced with sticks, then tie the sticks to logs on the floor....then dance to and fro at a fire dragging around the log to the sacred drumbeat nonstop for three days and nights with neither food, water, nor toilet breaks in a sacred trance... until the stick tears out through their muscles. They must be really good at learning how to manage pain. (Ouch!!!)

    Just goes to show you what folks will do in the name of religion. Well for me, I share the sentiments of the lady who said, "...No Pain,...no pain...". Call me terribly conventional, if you need to, but I like heaping doses of pleasure served up undiluted.
    b!
  • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

    Mon, November 26, 2007 - 3:41 PM
    I fail to see how the practice of bondage-discipline/sadism-masochism is spiritualy uplifting, much less therapeutic or healing.
    At best the dominant of the pair releases some "steam" and maybe gets some shit off his/her chest and is maybe freed of some tension or stress, at least for a little while, after having taken it out on the other. BUT the destructive effect upon the receiver of it all, does not help anyone, just makes for some terribly hideously emotionaly damaged people. I mean what are you going to do with a victim having cigarette burns all over, teeth busted out, cuts and infections all over his/her genetalia, and a size 10 asshole? You can say that the victim submitted with totally willing adult consent as a willing conspirator to the drama....but, Hey that stuff does alot of damage.
    .............But OK, try and tell me different.

    When I get worked up and grow cross and upset and feel funky and angry about something, I go outdoors and chop a bunch of wood for my woodstove. That works off alot of excess negative energy... and turns it into something positive. To me pain is something I avoid... not something I'll seek out. At least that's the way I ( and probably 99.5% of the population) am wired. I think you have to be really fucked up to intentionally inflict pain and harm on others.
    And if you find the above offensive to your sensitive little pink ears, then throw me the hell out of your Pain Club.

    b!
    • Re: Spirituality & bdsm

      Mon, November 26, 2007 - 4:21 PM
      I think the same can be said about tattooing, piercing, and plastic surgery. Whether they cause "damage" is just a judgment about the result.

      If the only image you have of bdsm is as nonconsensual catharsis, or of consensual catharsis which maims, then frankly I'm glad that you're not part of my scene.

      Of course, then you have to apply the same argument to all forms of gurus since their approach tends to be identical to d/s. And to all forms of sex, really. Or to all of human interaction. You never know when dressing the wrong way might cause someone undue trauma or a misplaced word lead someone into suicide.

      For me, self determination really is a huge value. I do have some values which are even more important to me than your self determination, but most of those deal with my own self determination. :). And yeah, I'm completely ok with someone collecting cigarette burns, broken teeth, infections, and a size 10 asshole if that's what they want to do with their body. I'm not necessarily willing to help them with all of those pursuits, but I'm not going to stop them either.