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The Endorphin Levels in BDSM - a short primer on sending a submissive into hyperspace

Tuesday July 20, 2010

Although everyone into the BDSM scene has heard of endorphins, actually very, very few people really understand what they are, how they work, what the "high" is all about and how one can correctly induce the body to produce them. This short primer will answer those questions, and serve as a guide for anyone topping another so that they may successfully send their bottom into a very deep endorphin stupor! (Also known as leaving them in a big puddle of quivering ecstasy!)

The endorphin high is caused by a bunch of natural, morphine-like chemicals the body pumps into your brain to reduce your sensitivity to pain (thus raising your pain threshold.) The fact that the body seems to release these endorphins in measured 'loads' is a key to understanding how to 'play' the body to produce these 'loads' and 'release' them into the body and brain region when the 'load' is ready. One has to keep in mind that another chemical – adrenalin – is also produced by the body in reaction to pain, and its behavior should be understood also. This is covered later more thoroughly in the section at the end on aftercare – which is a VERY essential element in guaranteeing the success of the effort, as you will see.

The endorphin 'loads' as they are available in the body are released in their entirety, and after a 'load' is released, it takes the body about ten minutes to generate the chemicals for another one. After the body has been induced to release (or 'inject') a 'load' into the system, you must then continue stimulating the body for at least ten minutes in some manner before the body will be ready to release another one. This stimulation can be just about anything – sensation play, light paddling or flogging, light caning, etc. – and it does not have to be intense or even nearly match the intensity of stimulation that had caused the release of the last 'load.'

Once prepared, an increase in stimulation over a five minute span up to a measured 'climax' will trigger the body to release the freshly prepared 'load' (based upon the submissive's current pain threshold, "measured" to push them over a new edge.)

So, armed with this information, what does a session look like from the top's and bottom's point of view? This should break it down for you.

When a scene first starts, there are no endorphins in the submissive, and even fairly light torment is very stingy, ouchy, and, well, painful! There is an endorphin reserve already in place that is awaiting release into one's body in case of an emergency, and after just a few minutes of even relatively mild stimulation building to a mild climax, this reserve 'load' is released, and suddenly the pain threshold clearly rises and the subject can easily tolerate what earlier may have been pushing their limits, making them jump around and squirm, for instance. This new, more pain tolerant state is Level One. There is no altered state of consciousness yet – but there is an increased pain threshold.

Once this has happened, for the top it's basically just about treading water for ten minutes and doing anything that provides relatively light but constant stimulation to induce the bottom's body to prepare/create their next 'load' for release. This is a good time for sensation play, or light paddling, flogging or whipping – and since the only requirement is that it remain fairly constant stimulation, it is a chance for the top to relax for a bit, since the stimulation can be very mild and be easy and relaxing to apply during this time.

Once the ten minutes has passed, a build in intensity over a subsequent five minute period will excite the body to a peak, and a sudden 10–15 seconds or so of intense stimulation just beyond the person's current pain threshold limit will trigger the body to eject its freshly made, current load into the bloodstream. Now the bottom will be at  Level Two – with still no perceivable altered state of consciousness (beyond panting in relief that you, the top, have ceased with the intense bit!), but there is a considerable  and noticeable leap in pain threshold now.

Following this, again, ten minutes of mild, easy stimulation to provoke the body into generating the next load as quickly as possible. Keep this well below the pain threshold you've now created, with just a little intense whack, etc. every so often, about a minute apart. This will keep the adrenalin build up to a minimum, for reasons explained later on. Take it easy, tops, relax, rest that arm and wrist a bit! Then, this relaxing ten minutes is followed with five minutes of building the intensity again to well above the previous level, as the bottom's pain threshold is pretty high already now and they can take a lot more before the body interprets this as being 'in crisis' and thus triggers the endorphins' release. Finished off with 10–15 seconds (up to a minute) of a real intense, over the edge push, and the body will inject that next load.

Now at  Level Three, the bottom will definitely feel a little bit 'woozy' — exhibiting a "mildly drugged" state. Their eyelids should become heavier seeming, and they will fall into a more relaxed condition than before, with more low moans and groans, and with their inhibitions becoming more relaxed. Again, applying ten minutes of any relatively mild stimulation (don't have to work hard, tops!), followed by a five minute build to a 10–15 second intense climax now that is WELL beyond the previous one, will result in the next endorphin "load" being released to push the bottom into a very nice Level Four head space.

At this Level Four state, there will be a very definite altered state of consciousness in evidence, and the bottom will feel clearly drugged and will be very compliant and submissive now. This is countered, however, by the largest charges of adrenalin they have received so far (from the intense climax just used to push them over this "edge"), so they are still quite communicative and their reaction time is still quick (even hypersensitive – a small whack with a paddle, cane or whip can now generate a huge amount of twitching or jerking of the subject's body with certain bottoms.) Now, during the ten minute 'treading water' period for the top, the moans and groans will be longer and deeper, the body often limp in it's restraints, and the reactions to the occasional harder 'strikes' will be obvious and even somewhat amplified. This is the tops finest time – they can still relax and obviously not be exerting themselves very hard, yet produce fine moans of ecstasy from their bottom with hardly any provocation! The pain threshold is high, even if the reaction time is increased due to the adrenalin, so harder occasional strikes are welcomed, and the reactions are certainly encouraging!

After this ten minute "endorphin replenishment" period, now it is important to be very sensitive to the limit levels crossed earlier, as you begin that five minute build in intensity that will end in the most intense limit pushing you might do with the bottom for this session (if you are stopping at level five). The bottom will have a very high pain threshold at this time, but also will be fairly groggy (in spite of the adrenalin-fueled reaction times) and less able to communicate their safe word – in fact, will now be so compliant that it is very UNLIKELY that they would use it even if they should do so! So, push this "grand finale" with finesse and sensitivity to what is going on with your bottom! At the other end of the 10–30 second climactic build in intensity – in a wonderful blast – this latest endorphin load will push the bottom into Level Five: a state of supreme ecstasy, docility, and the ability to take just about anything you could throw at them. They will become very limp and relaxed very suddenly – and be very clearly in an altered state of consciousness now.

This is the point most people end the scene and remove the bottom to cloak them in a blanket and begin the all-important aftercare ... and unless you know your bottom extremely well, this is where the session should end. However, for those in that category of knowing their bottom's limits and abilities quite well, the rules and timing are the same as with the earlier segments. Now, your 'mild' stimulation could be fairly intense if you wanted it to be, and the bottom will become extremely submissive – and receptive – and accepting of any amount of stimulation you could lay on them. This is a dangerous condition, because there is NO WAY a person will utter a safe word in this condition – they can barely talk at all! So, it is best to keep the stimulation relatively intense but not too too (Note: the stronger intensity applied now will hold up the adrenalin levels, and the combination with the elevated endorphins levels creates a condition of intense excitement and of simultaneously intense ecstatic relaxation for the bottom, so they'll be into receiving whatever is being doled out. More on adrenalin in a minute, though!) Again, finish off after the ten minutes with a building in intensity to one beyond that reached earlier, with a 10–15 second extreme point, and the next 'load' will be released. So, now we have brought the bottom to a very amazing  Level Six! (But, again, this should only be attempted with a bottom whose limits and abilities are already very well known! The top is working without the benefit of safe words being utterable, in most cases by this time, so care must be exercised this whole while.)

With all the adrenalin now in the body – as well as the complete release of inhibitions from the heavy dosing of endorphins now in their brain – behavior of the bottom can become unpredictable at this point, and you should be prepared to restrain against some wild thrashing and arm flailing that could take place (at least be out of harm's way!) The person/bottom is going to be in such an intensely altered state of consciousness now that their reactions could possibly be of an extremely primitive nature, and they may be capable of only 'animal-like' noises and reactions, and no or very little recognizable speech. So, watch out! Following this reasoning, approach the subject as you would a wild animal – very gently, talking soothingly and gesturing in a calming manner. Be prepared for sudden wild jerking, or seeming attempts to 'get away.' And don't take it personally! At Level Six, this person is totally ga-ga! Be assured, they are enjoying every millisecond of this experience! And a very long period of dreaminess is now in store for them – if their aftercare is handled properly!

So, why do I go on and on about the aftercare? The work of putting endorphins into the subject's body is finished, right? Well, yes, but you have also succeeded in putting very, very large amounts of adrenalin into their system, and adrenalin is tricky stuff. Even at Level Four, aftercare is important now because of they way adrenalin burns off – it burns off very quickly – compared to endorphins, which burn off very slowly. At Level Five or Level Six, there is enough adrenalin in the body that it will take 10 to 20 minutes for it to burn off (even up to half an hour!), and during this time, the bottom very likely will experience a number of adrenalin 'crashes' (similar in a way to coffee jags), and some of these can be very intense — and even quite frightening! They will need to be kept warm and be held and comforted AT LEAST throughout this period of adrenalin burn-off. My feeling is that if you don't care enough for the bottom to enjoy cuddling and caressing with them for up to half an hour, you probably shouldn't be taking them to any Level Six endorphin/adrenalin levels! (Or even perhaps to a Level Four!)

This adrenalin "crash" experience for the bottom is something many, many tops are unaware of, and they have no concept of the amount of harm they could be doing to someone's psychological state by not performing adequate, loving, fondling and comforting aftercare during this time. All the bottom needs now is to be held and to hold you (or whoever you assign to perform aftercare) back – in order to be comforted by your presence, and to be allowed to make you become the entire focus of their awareness. No stroking, or massage, or other stimulus is needed or even desirable at this time. What is important is to keep in verbal contact with the bottom (not requiring words as responses, merely nods), instructing them every little while to relax. The adrenalin will have them in a very agitated state – high heart beat and breathing levels, etc. – and this situation is completely counter to the endorphin experience.Sure, they have a ton of endorphins in their system, but the adrenalin is presently holding them off from experiencing the full effect of them. The top's guidance is extremely important at this time to help them relax through the adrenalin burn-off period.

The important thing to realize is that, if not actually 'talked down' out of the adrenalin agitation, the person could easily never allow themselves to relax enough to even feel the massive content of endorphins that currently exist in their system! (Maybe you've all seen the bottom who, after 45 minutes to an hour of intense stimulation to the point of near-total collapse on the cross or bench, is released and – after a mere couple of minutes – is just mingling around and talking and mixing with people as if nothing ever happened. These people are floating on a self sustained adrenalin buzz. This not only is likely to be unhealthy, but these bottoms are cheating themselves out of a long, long stretch of total endorphin-induced ecstasy!)

Step-By-Step Aftercare Instructions

So, while gently holding the bottom and letting them hold you back, coo softly and comfort them, and tell them to go ahead and to let themselves relax. You will feel them do so as they comply to your wishes, as they are quite docile and compliant to receiving instructions at this point. But they will also slowly tense up again from the adrenalin. Keep reminding them to relax, telling them to give themselves permission to relax totally. As they begin to succeed at doing this after a while, some will encounter a frightening feeling, which some describe feeling as if 'falling off a cliff,' and they will tense up a great deal from fright in that event. Or, they might encounter a feeling of intense 'blackness' (as the endorphins get a chance to relax even their optic nerve) and they will freak out and pull back from relaxing again.

If they report such experiences (or even before they do) tell them not to fear that, but to let it go and pass through it – telling them to relax themselves through the sensation of falling or blackness with the understanding that this is quite normal and is a common experience. Once they do that, having learned to "relax through it", they will be "in it" after that point, and will begin to relax very deeply, very often seeing colors and beautiful technicolor visions and dreamlike landscapes, spaces and places. How sweet!

Once this happens (which, again, will take at least 10 minutes — and up to a half hour for some, depending on the amount of adrenalin that they must burn off), then your bottom needs only a little more loving attention, and can then be left bundled in a blanket somewhere on their own to float in a happy bubble, very possibly for hours!

Tops should be mindful of the fact that if they had intended to have sexual play with their bottom, they should probably fit that in around level three or four, for after hitting level five, their bottom may be too floaty to be able to concentrate for long on what they are doing. Then again, that can sometimes result in extremely passionate and inhibition-free indulgence, resulting in heights of ecstasy and orgasm never before experienced. But, if your bottom drifts out on you or loses their erection, don't say I didn't warn you! There's no telling which way they will go at level 5 or 6!

"Flying"

There is another factor that can produce an altered state of consciousness FAR FAR beyond even that of the most extreme endorphin experience. This is experienced by submissives whose intense focus upon their Master or Mistress (their Dominant) – and upon pleasing them – eventually leads to a hallucinogenic kind of altered state known commonly in the BDSM community as "flying," having an almost mythological aura surrounding the word by now, though for very good reasons! It is probably the most profound experience one can have as a submissive. It involves a state of intense devotion towards the dominant (who is not just a mere "top" at this point!) that borders upon religious worship, with complete trust and a total commitment to please and satisfy them thoroughly. Through the attainment of a complete selflessness and focus on the dominant, a transformation takes place that is very, very deep, almost trance-like.It can become so profound as to produce an extended, hallucinogenic state that is very wonderful and blissful. Many have reported even seeing visions under the spell of this "flying" effect. All have attested to the profound sense of peace and bliss they have experienced while even near the "edge" of this state.

This "flying" state can be attained by some with very little endorphin content in their system (some say even with none, but I'm quite certain most folks have attained at least a level Three or Level Four endorphin high in order to trigger the total release of inhibitions which this psychological state seems to require, at least generally speaking.) With practice, the release into this "flying" submissive-space should come easier and easier, eventually with even a mere suggestion being able to trigger the effect for some with very little or even no endorphin content being in the picture. COMBINED with the level 5 or 6 endorphin head space, there likely can be no deeper state of ecstasy possible for the bottom — short of total enlightenment! Until such an experience of full enlightenment can be accomplished, perhaps the attainment of this interim bliss is quite acceptable, and certainly should be considered an attractive and enjoyable state to be in! The secret ingredients are intense focus; a commitment to please the dominant utterly; and complete and total devotion! These ingredients – with some endorphins in the mix – should produce a quite satisfying effect for both the submissive and the dominant!

(Disclaimer — I am not a medical doctor, though this information, where applicable, has been checked with a doctor and two nurses who are in the scene. I assume no responsibility for people who try to use this information or for the effects which may arise from the application of the information above. As resulting from my personal knowledge, research and experiences, I can, however, assure you that this information is completely accurate to act as a guide for those exploring these effects as part of their own BDSM explorations.)

Terry

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