Original Source: http://hellsc.com.au/bdsm-head-spaces.html
If you’re new to BDSM you might have heard the term headspace or one of its variations such as sub space, puppy space, drop and other such terms. What does this mean? Head space is generally considered to be an altered state of consciousness within BDSM play that is used to ‘lose yourself’ in a scene. It is described as a state of mind whereby the body’s endorphins, enkephalins and adrenaline take over the mind and produce a morphine like effect. It’s what takes over our mind when we engage in risky sexual practices such as urethral sounding. To the ordinary person, putting something down your urethra might sound outlandish, painful and crazy, and to a certain extent it is. But by altering the mind and approaching things slightly differently an individual can come to terms about doing things which might seem outlandish and outrageous. They use their hormones and arousal to reframe their state of mind into participating into a sexual activity that they may or may not have been into beforehand.
It varies between individuals, but head space is a period whereby there is an altered state of reality. Headspace is a period whereby the individual enters an altered psychological state that manifests itself into physical and emotional actions, images, feelings and thoughts that have been brought on by a dramatic increase in adrenaline and endorphin that will occur during a scene. It’s hard to explain without sounding odd – but let’s try.
When engaging in BDSM play it is referred to as a scene. In a scene there is generally some form of role play being done – generally whereby one participant is subjected to one activity while the other one maintains control of the activity. Take for example one of the most relatable forms of BDSM as a power exchange within a dominant and submissive relationship. The dominant is the one in control of the situation, whereas the submissive is the one that carries out, or is subjected to the control the dominant. In order to do this the participants need to let go who they are and become a character of sorts. They might not normally be submissive or dominant outside of that room, but within that room and within that ‘scene’ they become something else. To reinforce that they might employ the use of BDSM aesthetics, by that it is meant BDSM toys and tools will generally have a certain look. Consider the attire of a dominant, if he/she walks in in casual clothes, ripped jeans, wearing thongs then that projects a completely different aesthetic than what it would if they walked into a room in a leather hood, with black gloves, black boots and handcuffs swaying from their fingers. Essentially, the purpose of a scene is to lose yourself within the scene. Some activities might involve pushing your body to the extreme, inflating dildos and anal stretching is one such example. By not being in a state of arousal, or preparing your mind and body for the activity at hand, you’ll find that you’re not able to enjoy it in the same way and might otherwise find it very difficult to continue.
It is a form of acting in a way whereby you’re letting go of who you are, role playing in a scene if you will. Once you have let go of who you are, and you’re focused on the scene you are said to be within a form of headspace.
Head space is more often commonly associated with the submissive, but there is evidence to suggest that dominants also experience an altered state of consciousness as well. We’ll start by exploring the idea of Sub-Space before moving on to Dom-space.
What Is Subspace In BDSM
Sub Space is an altered state of consciousness that varies between individuals. The very basic kind of definition that can be applied is that it refers to a state where the brainwaves in the mind are functioning in a different way that the basic defaults of ‘being awake and alert’ and ‘sleeping’. Keep in mind that this is a very basic definition and the idea of head space varies considerably between individuals and play mates. Brains are exceptionally complicated and even with scientific research into head space during BDSM play, there have been no definitive answers as to how and why it occurs as of yet.
What we do know is that sub space is triggered through a reaction that is a response to intense stimulation that results from a scene. It is partly regulated and induced by biochemical changes that occur within the body which have been triggered through the physical and emotional stimulation of the scene. This is primarily referred to as a physiological sub space. It is where the submissive goes into a scene. It’s not referred to a physical place, but the altered state does affect the body and allow them to handle more stimulation. This type of space also provides for emotional stability and in a way, psychological compartmentalization.
A sub is generally aware of how they descended into sub space, and they will remember that a major event has happened but they might forget intimate details, or struggle to recall the majority of what happened during that state. For some, it enhances memory and for others the descent into a sub space allows for deep and reflective thinking and internal problem solving of emotional turmoil and events. It varies considerably between people but the one thing that is a constant within sub space is that it affects people’s awareness considerably. Some submissives might see themselves becoming wrapped up in their own thoughts and feelings to the extent whereby they are practically unaware of anything else such as their surroundings their individuality as a person and time, others might shut off completely and enter a trance like state which sees them no longer in control, and in some ways resembles a hypnotic trance like state.
Why Do Submissives Lose Control in Kink?
When playing in a scene, the submissive will be concentrating on the small things. The touch of the dominants hand, the cane, the restraints and how they feel against the skin and they might become carrier away from the mental high that comes about as a result of the increased attention and through the feelings of complete and utter submission and trust. To do this properly they must believe the scene, they must be aware of the limitations of the scene, and they must be aware of the safety procedures in place that are there to protect them. With all these security measures in place, a sub can forget about the danger and the risks and allow themselves to immerse within the scene. As they relax and put more and more trust into that of the dominant within the scene, the natural chemicals of the body will kick in. Trust over takes fear and the flight and fight response will emerge, but it will be controlled. The stimulation will slowly increase, the body will tense and the individuals breathing will become deeper and faster as they lose themselves. It is roughly at this point where the adrenaline rush will occur and the endorphins will take control of the body resulting in the altered mental state. Some people will use BDSM and the altered state of consciousness to help illuminate the mind and achieve a different clarity through which they can resolve issues. BDSM in this fashion becomes more of an illumuniating art form which changes the perception of the individual and allows for the illumination of the mind.
When in this state it is the responsibility of the dominant to ensure the safety of the submissive. Factors such as the intensity of the high and altered state, as well as the speed in which the submissive got there will definitely need to be considered. The dominant needs to notice how far into the sub space the playmate is and from there needs to consider the reaction, the mental state and whether there are any physiological signs that need to be noticed; such as the breathing rate, sounds, and sweating.
From here they might descend into a trance. It resembles a state of strong relaxation and might be akin to a meditative trance or hypnotic trance that has the potential to grow deeper quickly. In this state mental processes will be delayed or slower, and the use of safety precautions such as a safe word or signal might become difficult or even impossible to use in this state. It is up to the dominant to work out when a submissive is in such a state and respond and react accordingly. Verbal responses might be slow to occur and or become non-existent the submissive might fall into certain patterns of behaviour which include moaning, drooling, and laughter, sobbing and growling. Such trance like states can often be seen in examples of over stimulation where something like a high powered bodywand or massage vibe is used to provide intense stimulation to the genitals over a sustained period of time. The body finds itself unable to cope with such intense stimulation and flooding of chemicals and hormones so it enters a trance like state in order to cope and make sense of its surrounding. Whilst this state is otherwise safe, it is imperative that the dominant recognise the risks from continuing and respond accordingly.
The danger in such an altered state is that sometimes a sub will descend further into a state known as flying or the roaring void. This exceeds the trance like state and can be representative of a dangerous mind set. If previously established safe signals are no longer being responded to then that indicates that it is time to stop play and move into a period of after care. A submissive who has entered such a state are incredibly vulnerable and will require nurturing, and after care. We’ll explain this in our aftercare article.
The Idea Of Dom Head Space
There are some people which value the idea of dom space and others which refuse to acknowledge its existence. Both sides have a point to a degree – those that contest the idea of there being a dom-space contest it on the idea that a dominant is supposed to remain in control and in charge of things all the time. The idea of ‘submitting’ to a dom-space could potentially mean that there is a loss of control and the dominant is in danger of neglecting the sub, or being in a position whereby they will fail to notice the signs that indicate a sub is in danger.
The response to that is that dominants must also experience a change. Few dominants might retain that level of control throughout the entirety of their lives, they might also be in a position where they a role playing and in order to submit to that role, and come into it, they also experience a dom space. There are differences though, with dom space often being referred to as a high with an altered and more pure focus with magnified senses. It can increase the connection with the sexual partner and the sense of time is often lost.