This essay was first written and published in the Society of Janus newsletter "Growing Pains." I hope you enjoy!
from the Submissive Guide Newsletter 5/4/13
Pushing boundaries in pain tolerance is a common request for submissives of all flavors. As a masochist I enjoy pain for the sake of pain. I don’t always want to escape from it; rarely do I enjoy sub space because it separates me from the pain. I want to feel it, embrace it and hold it close. I've learned a few important skills that push those pain boundaries and bring me further into a sadist’s grasp. The most valuable of those skills is visualization.
How Pain is Processed
When you experience erotic pain you’re likely to fall into one of three camps as far as how you process the pain; acceptance, denial and devouring. The first two are very common and the last one is where pure masochists place themselves.
In acceptance you experience the pain fully - you don’t fight it or ‘deal’ with it in any way other than what you naturally experience. Playing in acceptance is full of noise and bodily reactions. These people moan, groan, scream, cry, wiggle, squirm and twitch with the pain. Acceptance is also the realm of subspace - where you allow the endorphins and adrenaline to overload your senses.
Denial is often learned in childhood and continues into adulthood. This is where we stuff the pain down, refuse to feel it and are taught that showing pain is a sign of weakness. Visibly these people are often silent during play, tense and fighting it every step of the way. What they experience really looks painful.
Devouring is the most rare pain processing method. Extreme masochists devour the pain as energy. They don’t experience pain as pain at all but more likely raw energy or excitement. These people get a pure charge from the pain. Masochists that devour generally look really happy and will have a very bubbly, energetic response after play.
Make Visualization Work for You
Now that you have an understanding of how people process pain and you have probably placed yourself into one of the three camps you can learn to push those pain boundaries with visualization. There are three methods of visualization that I’m going to talk about today. I use these to great effect when I’m trying to overcome the pain edge.
1. Light - Seeing the pain as light entering your body and then dispersing it is an excellent coping technique. Imagine the impact like a burst of light spreading out across a larger surface of your body, like fireworks; a pinpoint of light at the site of impact and then radiating outward.
2. Heat - Heat is a very easy visualization method because anyone who has played knows that your skin heats up with impact. In the same method as the light, use heat to spread the pain across your skin. You can also imagine it radiating upwards like a fire and dissipating. Warmth can be soothing and cathartic.
3. Color - If you are good at visualizing light then adding color might work for you too. This visualization takes on many forms and each person has color preferences from seeing red or yellow racing across the skin to imagining colors shooting into the sky. When I’m feeling really creative internally I imagine rainbows radiating out from the point of impact. Each color cools and so does the pain with it until it’s gone.
Ultimately your method of processing pain during play is uniquely yours, but I hope that you might incorporate some visualization into your next scene and see if you can push yourself farther than you have before. Adding these simple techniques to your play arsenal will make play more enjoyable and beneficial for all parties involved bringing your pain play deeper, more meaningful and intense.
Thoughts to Ponder
- How do you currently process pain in play?
- What visualization do you feel would work best for you?
- Do you have any other tips that help you process pain in play?