This is a guest post by Erika McClean.
There is a whip in my closet that is an antique. It’s the kind that Drayers would use on their horse teams when driving a carriage. When I’ve been particularly bad, or good, Master will unhook that puppy from the rope it’s hanging on. Those moments, as he stands behind me with that whip in his hands, are some of the most stressful ones I ever experience during play sessions. It’s exciting, but terrifying, waiting for his arm to fly back and the first fiery lick against my skin. After a session with that though, I experience sensations of calm and satiated serenity that pretty much nothing else can match up to. Why? There are a lot of emotional, mushy sorts of answers to this, and a few spiritual ones as well. However I am forced to conclude that at the bottom line, it’s the endorphins.
So my fellow junkies, we come at last to what is probably the most pleasurable of the natural bodily chemicals that we BDSM players like to be saturated in, Endorphins. Endorphins aren’t hormones, they are neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters (NTs for short) are the chemicals in the brain that are used by our nerve cells to send signals to each other. Most of the other chemicals I talked about are both hormones and NTs, the basic difference between the two is that hormones act all over the body, while NTs only act in the Central Nervous System consisting of the brain and spinal cord.
Endorphins released in the brain react with the part of brain cells called opioid receptors. It’s the same part of nerve cells that are affected by drugs like morphine, codeine and the like. However, while outside opiates like morphine are highly addictive, endorphins are not considered to be so. You might think that’s because natural chemicals in the body can’t be as strong as pharmaceutical ones, but you would be wrong. Of the 20 or so kinds of endorphin chemicals in the brain at least one of them (called beta-endorphins) are stronger than morphine.
Endorphins have the happy effect of blocking pain as well as giving you a sense of euphoria. They also cause you to have a higher pain tolerance once they kick in and lower your emotional inhibitions. It’s the stuff that causes “runner’s high” in long distance runners, but I have to tell you I think getting whipped is a much more fun way to get there. The two major triggers for your body’s natural drug are pain and stress. During a scene, typically both of those things are in abundant supply. When the scene is over that calm sense that your head is wrapped in cotton or that soft floating feeling comes over you, (I like to tell people it feels like my blood has turned into sparkly golden syrup) it comes from the chemical high your pain has earned you.
One other thing you might think is interesting is you can use this to your personal advantage when you’re going to do a scene. If you naturally have a low pain tolerance, or at least one that’s lower than you’d like, you can trick your body into releasing endorphins in order to increase it. Lots of exercise will induce endorphin release, as well acupuncture, eating hot chili peppers, meditation and breath exercises, and massage. Knowing this is handy because if you’re feeling ignored or in a long distance relationship you can use those methods to give yourself a little bit of relief when it’s a long time between scenes.
Or perhaps experiment with doing a scene in stages, like when you go to the dentist and they give you a topical anesthetic before they shoot you with the Novocain. When working in stages, using smaller amounts of pain and stress followed by short break in order to allow your body to produce its own version of a “topical” could help you to push your limits a lot more than normal. Of course, keep in mind that lots of endorphins running through your blood is basically like being a bit high and your decision making skills might not be at their sharpest, so make sure your Dom(me) is sensitive to that.
There are lots of other brain chemicals that are important to function and probably play a big role in why we all do the things we do. Dopamine for instance, which deals with the “reward center” of the brain. These are the ones that always struck me as being the most related to my need for Domination, my urge to submit at the feet of my Master. Hopefully they will give you some ideas as to what you might try to further explore your own urges for submission.
Erika McLean of SnugglySubWear.com graduated from Husson University. She lives in Maine with her Dom husband, three kids and pets.