Pain and Catharsis
Last night I went to a workshop called “Pain and Catharsis” at the Citadel. The workshop, taught by Lark and Keri, combined elements of body work, and newage spirituality to address the challenges and rewards of pain play.
It was mind-blowing. From the presenters’ upbeat and compassionate style to their practical and sensible advice this was one of the best BDSM workshops I have ever attended.
“I came for the sex and stayed for the transcendence.” This comment by Lark really resonated with me. Kinky sex makes me wet. This is the first and foremost reason I do this. My sexlife has at times been a place to explore my politics, my relationship with the universe, my comfort with my body, and of course my bond with my partners. However, if it isn’t hot and if it isn’t making me happy, I have no business doing it. But what I’ve found is that when it is hot, and it makes me oh so happy, it also takes me to a different place. It changes those bonds, and those politics, and those relationships in a positive way.
“BDSM is not therapy…you have to do your work outside the dungeon.” This is something Keri said in regards to the distinction between catharsis and re-traumatizing. We all walk through a big bad world and we all bring our pasts with us to our play, but both Lark and Keri addressed the need to come to kink with positive intentions. We do some scary damn shit in our dungeons and bedrooms and it’s important to come from a place of loving kindness, to borrow a term from my yoga practice. Thinking of which, it’s also important, in my opinion, to know that when we are playing with scary, socially taboo and possibly trigger-y things sometimes you will hit landmines. Sometimes you may want to hit landmines as with what Dossie Easton calls “shadow play,” and sometimes it will come out of the blue. Years ago, early in my yoga practice, I was having a really hard class. I was doing forrest yoga which is all about finding sweetness and joy in your pain, and I was having none of it. Finally, when the class was almost over, I was in shevasana and I just started sobbing. I broke wide open and all the pain and bitterness and anguish of rape that I didn’t even know existed came pouring out. I hadn’t been thinking about it, I hadn’t been thinking about it for months, it just bubbled up out of the abyss. The reason I went back to that yoga class though is that feeling that, and naming it allowed it to dissipate. I don’t have to carry that around with me anymore. My yoga practice informs my BDSM play in a lot of ways, but while I might do some of my healing on the yoga mat, I try not to do my healing in the dungeon. Some people do, and more power to them, but I find that the intensity of my bond with my partner and the energy created in my body is enough that it requires my undivided attention.
The workshop also covered a lot of practical tools for coping with, and making use of pain, but you’ll just have to catch Lark and Keri’s next class for all those juicy details.