Thursday, October 2, 2014

What is Subspace?

Many people within the BDSM lifestyle may have heard the word Subspace but not known what it was. There are also many that have experienced Subspace firsthand without ever knowing the name for the mental state that had been achieved. The goal of this particular article is to inform others about what Subspace is, what the experience is like, what can cause it to occur as well as the importance of using safety for proper care and aftercare of someone that is in the midst of a Subspace experience.
The first question to address is, what is Subspace? Subspace is a psychological state of mind as well as a physical reaction of the body that occurs with a simultaneous elevation in a variety of neurotransmitters within the brain of an individual. In other words, the little feel good chemicals that can cause us to be happy (serotonin), to feel excited (endorphins and adrenaline), and to feel euphoric (dopamine) work together to create an amazingly pleasurable experience that is like no other. Physically, this can also cause an increase in heart rate, body temperature and respiration while also causing a decrease in response to outside stimuli such as pain.
With that being said, this still does not answer the question of what the experience is like for the person that is in the middle of it. While the above could be likened more to a scientific explanation, this is where we will lead into the more poetic and philosophical version of events. Each person’s experience with Subspace can be somewhat different. Some have described it as a spiritual experience, others as an out of body experience and still others describe it as a sensation of being drugged or high. The best way that we have to explain this is by offering what we have gone through firsthand. As we have mentioned in previous posts, both Sacredragon and I have been in a variety of roles within the spectrum of D/s so we both have a viewpoint to offer on this subject. While my own experiences may be further in the past then Sacredragon’s, they do still remain very fresh in my mind. Below we will offer our individual stories.
Crystalis: Back when I was a full 24/7 slave, there were many occurrences in which I entered Subspace. Often times this would occur during an active session that involved either a requirement of extreme submission to my dominant or when being subjected to pain, usually with an erotic context. However the entering of Subspace was achieved, the general sensations were the same for me. I would start by feeling overwhelmed by either my emotions or by the physical sensations I was going through. After a sustained period of time where this would steadily increase more and more, I would reach a point that I thought I could handle no more. This was the tipping point. Then I would suddenly be overcome by an extreme sense of calm and peace. This was the entering of Subspace. Once there, I would feel such pleasurable sensations. Everything around me would become fuzzy and unimportant except for my dominant and his attentions. I would completely slip out of any desire to be a separate entity from and it would feel to me as if there was a blending of souls. He was no longer separate from me because I felt as if I had become an extension of him. Every touch I received from him was euphoric, like he was the only water in the middle of the desert. A single kind word took on a whole new world of meaning. I felt a combination of feeling whole in a way I simply never could outside of Subspace while simultaneously feeling that I had no personal existence of my own. I became nothing and everything at once. Both extremely powerful and utterly powerless at the same time. I was everywhere and nowhere. I had no understanding of my own personal well being or safety for I truly no longer had any control what so ever of my own body and I never wanted this sensation to end. I felt completely vulnerable and indestructible all at once.  This is the best way I can describe my own past experiences with Subspace.
Sacredragon: The first thing I noticed was that I was unable to move but since I was with Crystalis I was perfectly okay with that. It was like the world was a puzzle and then She touched a single piece and it all came apart. For me, the peace of Subspace marched over me like warm water on a cold winters day. The world around me beyond my bed ceased to exist. It was like my body was being held down by an immense weight of energy and light. I saw what could only be described as a sight not unlike the northern lights. The appearance of these lights were influenced by every sound I heard and I was able to sense them in other ways too.  I could feel them and they almost smelled like roses. My senses switched in such wonderful ways. The smell of Her hair tasted like caramel apple pie. I loved that. When Crystalis first touched my skin, I had an intense feeling of joy as if nothing in the world could ever hurt me. I didn’t feel like She was touching my skin but rather like She was filling me from within, touching my very soul. I do not know if it was just a few minutes or if was a few hours but I know that the feeling is something that I want to feel again with Crystalis because the fleeting moment that I had with Subspace was not ever going to be enough. I can still feel it when she touches me, the feeling of peace and joy that I was brought in that moment. I don’t remember what occurred in the hour beforehand or the hour afterward but the experience while it occurred will always remain fresh. 
As you can see from the above descriptions that we shared with you, the ways that we each experienced Subspace held some similarities but were also very different. One key element that is similar in our Subspace experiences is the desire to return to or, not to leave the experience behind. This can be both addictive and problematic if proper care and safety measures are not administered both during and after the experience. As you’ve also read, however, there can be large differences as well, such as the sensory changes that occurred for Sacredragon and the loss of a sense of identity that happened for myself.
I explained what factors led to the entering of Subspace for myself in my own story. Although Sacredragon was not entirely aware of what led him to his entering of Subspace with me, I can tell you what I know of what I did to purposefully bring this experience to him in the most positive way possible. As far as the sequence of events that occurred leading up to his entering Subspace, there were a few things that happened. We had chosen to use the evening to do something that we had both had some fantasies about in the past. What we chose to do is considered to be edge play by many in the BDSM community. I do not suggest or condone this sort of activity for beginners or for anyone that is partnered with someone that they have even the slightest doubt about in regards to trust. The activity that we chose to do was bloodletting. For those of you that do not know what this is, there are several styles but we chose the mildest version, using a diabetic testing lancet to cause very shallow, minor wounds that allowed a few drops of blood to escape the surface of his skin.
Aside from the kink factors of why we chose this particular activity which I will not go into at this time, it allowed me to bring him closer to Subspace by allowing for certain key factors to take place. First, I was able to provide him with a feeling of safety and protection at my hands by proving to him that I cared dearly about him and would put his health first and foremost. I did this by making sure that the area I would be lancing was well cleaned by preparing the surface of the skin in advance with alcohol swabs. I then further earned his trust by testing out how sharp the lancets were by using them on my own finger first to make sure that I would not cause him too deep a wound. I kept the lines of communication free and open by letting him know what I was doing every step of the way. This further enhances the level of trust by showing true honesty and care for his emotional needs as well. Finally, after the bloodletting itself happened, I then took the steps to allow him to let go of control by physically restraining him. The mixture of lack of control, restraint and pain coupled with trust, honesty, love and respect were what gave him the best chances possible for a pleasurable and fulfilling Subspace experience. I do have one word of caution to any Dominant that is new to bringing a submissive to Subspace and that is this, if the submissive is not well restrained, do not allow them to slip too far into Subspace. At the very deepest point of Subspace, the submissive can enter a primal state of consciousness in which they can become dangerous  and/or physically violent to anyone and everyone in the room, including themselves. This is not their fault and they should never be punished for this as they have no control over themselves in this state.
This, in turn, leads us to one of the most important aspects of Subspace care…Aftercare. Aftercare is the largest factor in what can make for a gratifying Subspace experience. To neglect one’s submissive after a Subspace experience is not only cruel and unhealthy for them psychologically, it can be downright dangerous to them physically. The reason for this is due to the “come down” effect as those feel-good chemicals work their way out of the system. A submissive should be allowed to return to a natural state of being in their own time frame, though this does not mean extending the Subspace experience for them simply because they may beg for their Dom to do so, and believe me when I tell you that there are many that will do exactly that. However, the submissive should not be rushed into in depth conversations or physical tasks after a session either. This is because rushing a submissive through their return from Subspace can cause anything from extended dissociative episodes to shock.
What can one expect when a submissive is returning from Subspace? Although each individual is different, there are several elements that are more common and that a Dominant should be aware of when assisting a submissive during their return from Subspace. One of the highly common things that will occur is that the submissive will often get cold and start shivering. This is due to the effect of adrenaline leaving the system and this is why it is important to make sure that the submissive stays warm and comfortable. Providing them with a blanket or light covering will help with this. Another common occurrence is for the submissive to cry. Though it may be hard to watch them seem so sad, it is a natural reaction to what is tantamount to visiting nirvana and then having to return to the real world. Words of reassurance and affection can go a long way to help ease this part of the process. Also, for the Dominant to continuously speak to the submissive, they are helping to further re-anchor the submissive back into reality without causing trauma.
Allowing the submissive to remain in some form of physical contact (rubbing their back, holding their hand or just snuggling) can also offer a great amount of comfort and support as they continue to process their way through this experience. Understandably, this may not always be possible to do for long periods of time. In such a case, the Dominant should at least make sure to remain nearby the submissive, in the same room and within arm’s length is best. Whatever the Dominant does, they should always remember the cardinal rule of Aftercare…do NOT leave the submissive alone!. This can be both frightening and traumatic for them. When a Dominant leaves a submissive alone after returning from Subspace, they are essentially telling the submissive that they do not care about their well being and they cannot be trusted with the care of their submissive. If the Dominant is unable to be in direct contact with the submissive during the aftercare process, allowing the submissive to hear the Dominant’s voice can serve as a reminder that the Dominant does indeed care about the submissive’s emotional state.
Finally, the Dominant will want to make sure that the submissive stays properly hydrated to keep their electrolyte levels up, though it is not advised to give them anything that is heavily caffeinated as this can defeat the purpose of hydrating the submissive. A nice cup of herbal tea, some ice water or some juice is a good idea. The submissive may need reminders to help them to remember to drink. Also, along that note, the Dominant may want to have something light ready for the submissive to eat. Though they may not be hungry, it is helpful to give them something small as a treat, like some chocolate or a couple cookies. I mention chocolate because it contains a natural chemical that is similar to the vast amount of endorphins that will be leaving the submissive’s body during this process and this is just one more tool in the Dominant’s toolbox to help ease the transition back to a natural state of being for the submissive.
If aftercare is handled properly by the Dominant, the experience of Subspace can be an extremely positive one for both partners involved. It can help bring the Dominant and submissive into another level of their relationship and add to the plentiful array of things that a Dominant and submissive can do together that can enrich their relationship. We do hope that you have found this article helpful and informative and should you have any questions, please feel free to ask within our comments section and we will get back to you. Thank you and may you have a kink-ilicious day!