Mindfulness Is Not Just A Word To Me.

Mindfulness is not just a word to me. Presence with my emotions is for me, health. I felt the familiar quake of fear in my body. I became aware of my habit to not face the fear, to constrict my body and in this perpetuate rather than allow the fear. I have found fear is a door, waiting to be faced, waiting to be opened. I sat with my fear. I felt it. What followed was pain. I felt it. As I allowed my pain, an overwhelming beauty showed up, overwhelming allowance of love. Tears poured.

Then I felt it come, like a thick cloud over my mind. Here was anger. I felt my body like a case of love. I allowed the embodiment of my anger to show up within me, within this case. I watched her. I let her speak in me throwing her rage outside. I watched her, being careful not to enroll and not to push her away. When she was done raging outside, she turned her anger at me. I imagined a protective coat of love between her and my heart to not take on what she was saying, still not rejecting her, listening. Then I put my hands on her arms and asked, ‘What do you want me to hear?’

Fear came up wide in her eyes, she screamed without words, she fell into a fetal position and whimpered, then rose. I put my hands on her arms again and she said,

‘I love you’.

I sobbed. I placed my hand on my heart and my belly and said,

‘I love you too. I love me.’

She smiled, laughed bewildered that I could love her showing up as she did, I said I love you especially because you showed up how you did. I let her know how much I loved every bit about her. She smiled and suddenly there were flowers in her wild hair. She sat bopping up and down, then finally waved to go off and play. Knowing she is loved. Knowing I would be here to hold space for her again.

I met my fear, went face to face with the door and instead of huddling by the foot of the door and continuing to shake, this time I opened it.

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I Am A Victim Of BDSM.

It is important that I am heard: I am a victim of BDSM. Just as in tantra there is a platform for victims there must also be a platform for victims in BDSM and any other modality that someone has used to perpetrate harm.

There is a massive blindspot to BDSM abuse victims and it is dangerous.

Can you imagine? I, a BDSM abuse victim, was told I am not speaking properly in coming forward and am offending BDSM practitioners. My stand for BDSM abuse victims is not a campaign against anyone’s choice in life. People have the freedom to choose BDSM nor was I standing in the way of that- what a massive gaslighting tactic to say I was.

This is ME speaking about MY abuse and in this standing for ALL BDSM abuse victims! I stand for all victims.

I am lucky to have done the work to heal. The abusive behavior I was met with from BDSM practitioners could have driven me to a dangerous place. So no, there is no current safe platform for BDSM abuse victims nor listening for BDSM abuse victims and how I have been treated is proof of the blind spot. Even powerful advocates for victims are in this blind spot in regards to BDSM abuse victims. I believe there is a powerful opportunity for this blind spot to be revealed and healed in the name of BDSM abuse victims and all abuse victims worldwide.

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THE EVOLUTION OF A DOMINATRIX

BDSM is not necessary. I will tell you why. What I am about to share is based on my personal experience and I am speaking solely for myself. I am not coming from a space of judgment on what others choose. I was a Professional and personal Dominatrix for a total of 13 years. I also was a submissive and Switch. A Switch is someone who is both Dom and sub.
This is what I have found for myself.
After over a decade of being in BDSM it no longer touched any passion in me. I became bored with BDSM. This is not a statement of arrogance, this is a statement of real experience. Not bored in the sense that some may think, that I desired – and in so required – something more intense. No. I recognized that what lit my passion came from the heart and presence. Love and presence. Not just in romantic engagement, in life itself.
With self work and expanding my self care through meditation, I found that what I had been seeking all along was myself. I realized when I sought BDSM I was seeking my own love, seeking to connect with my own body and seeking to surrender to a higher power or what others may call higher or authentic self.
It dawned on me that every single reason I had supported BDSM, actually had nothing to do with BDSM and could be accessed without ever even touching on BDSM.
I had supported BDSM because I thought since it seemed like I had re-awakened connection in my body, which I had disconnected from because of trauma, then BDSM must be beneficial. This was a misinterpretation. What I seemed to have awakened in my body was a hypersensitivity reacting to the pain. There are kind ways to reconnect with the body rather than misuse pain to force a hyper-connection from retraumatization. Trying to use pain to connect with the body is the shadow side of ‘body connect’ which is not the root of body connect it can actually create more disconnect through hypersensitivity. This is not to say that a person who is hypersensitive is disconnected from their body. Every person’s sensitivity is unique and there are biological reasons beyond trauma for sensitivity including the makeup of each individual’s central nervous system.
What I am saying is in my experience forcing hypersensitivity through the misconception that this forcing is ‘body connect’ can hinder and repulse authentic body connection because of the process of retraumatization. If you are being caned, you will connect with your body but it will not be a sustainable body connect, it will be your body reacting out of survival. The impact will be there, however, the full impact will be there and that includes teaching the body to stay alert rather than move into the deep body connect of relaxation. If this is still obscure think of it this way, I am speaking of the difference between punching someone in the face to leave an impact or giving them a hug. Which one do you think is most likely to create a loving basis of a relationship? It is less likely to create a trusting bond with someone right after punching them in the face. This is the same process of creating a loving basis in relating with self and body.
BDSM can also create a confusing relationship with pain itself. Pain is the body asking for attention. Physical pain alerts the mind that something is wrong and must be corrected. Emotional pain alerts the mind it is time to take care of self and listen to the pain that is present. I found that the use of BDSM can create a punishment relationship with pain. Pain is not a punishment, it is a call to awareness and self care. The feeling of pain does not exist to tell you that you are a bad person or to praise you, those are the stories our identities attach to pain to prolong its effect. Pain is simply a physiological response that is based on survival. To create a punishment relationship with pain can have the effect of learning to turn away from pain or beginning to numb out or not listen to pain. BDSM at times also uses pain as a reward or praise. Pain misused as a reward or praise does not create a supportive relationship with pain as being just a visitor that is serving its purpose to pass on. Pain is not an enemy, it is a sacred conversation of the body asking us to self care.
In Shibari, Japanese rope bondage, the rope touches on the meridian points. The misconception I held onto in supporting bondage is that bondage is a vital access to the meridian points. It is not. There are many ways to access the meridian points including acupuncture, acupressure such as reflexology and Qi gong to name a few. Qi gong which means ‘Life Energy Cultivation’, is the ancient Chinese practice of channeling Qi [Chi], life force energy. Qi gong is a practice of working with life energy and teaches ways to gently touch on the meridian points through one’s energy alone. Qi gong can be done in sacred space with self. Qi gong is a nurturing way of connecting with the body and bringing awareness to the body through presence. Body connection is important for physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health. Through body awareness we learn to be present with self and present in life. Tender loving body connection creates a friendship with the body and a friendship with self. This friendship expands to create a friendship with life and the gratitude of being alive.
Submission would be the surrender aspect of BDSM. Later in my years as a Dominatrix I realized people were not coming to submit to me, even though they insisted it was so. People were coming seeking to surrender to a higher power that was not me. That higher power seeking could be God, Source, Universe, Love, Higher Self. I was just an icon nor was I a conduit. I actually could have not been there at all. I disappeared. People were coming to surrender to themselves. A lot of rope and theatrics just to ultimately let go. Let go of the illusion of control. Take away the theatrics, surrender is simply done through meditation. Surrender can be done simply with a breath, simply with a stated intention to do so, simply through a smile. All people wanted to do was to not be in control. The reality is- we never are. You don’t need BDSM to tell you that. It’s just what is so. There are very few and minute things we can control to an extent and that all comes from self work. BDSM is a faulty bandaid at best as all the work a Dominatrix does cannot make up for the inner work that is needed to have sustainable experience of surrender and at times BDSM can actually create a wall towards true surrender.
People thought they were coming to BDSM seeking pain. No they were not. People were seeking the moments in between the pain, they were seeking the nurturing after the pain. People were seeking to be held with tenderness, to be held as precious even if for a moment and they believed they needed to suffer to be rewarded with nurturing. Well, no. You do not have to suffer to feel nurturing. You do not have to feel pain to feel release. You do not have to hurt to know kindness. What is wild is, all of the pain seeking in BDSM in my experience is actually avoidance of pain. Pain already exists to be looked at, BDSM can actually fetishize the pain so that it does not have to be dealt with. Through turning past trauma into a fantasy, it can stay a fantasy being relived parading itself in bravado. To me BDSM is a lot of bravado of not facing what needs to move on. An elaborately festooned party for trauma that is not being met. In the end, the pain must be faced in order to be free. Professional support such as therapy is crucial. Therapy is a powerful support which guides the unconsciousness into awareness. Self work is a vital aspect. Meditation and mindfulness are not just buzz words, they are life changing tools that when used from a space of humility, self kindness and authenticity can be transformational. Exploring the many ways of nurturing self care is an important commitment to health as well as self kindness.
Seeking nurturing through pain is a habit. It is often an enforced lifelong habit that when faced with tenderness can react incredulously. How could tenderness, nurturing without punishment be real? It is real. It is what is the most real in my experience. Now, of course, there is the pain of working out, the pain of not feeding an addiction. In these instances, as long as the workout is in regard to being in body awareness and not pushing to the point of harming the body, pain is showing us progress through healthy habits. The pain after a workout signals the body strengthening. The pain of the ego or inner child not getting 5 donuts can trigger things linked to such intense feelings such as abandonment feeling alone. However, this is the opportunity for self care. Therapy, for one, and self work done on one’s own as well. This is pain showing us again, where to self care.
It became clear to me that abandonment and feeling alone was the act of when I abandoned myself. Social interaction is important and is a very healthy necessity when feeling alone comes up. And, it can be easy to feel alone in a sea of people. That aloneness can only be sated by me. That feeling of abandonment, of self abandonment, was born each moment I chose inauthenticity. Each moment I chose to not self care, to not hold myself with precious love. This is not to shame myself or punish myself for not always holding myself as this, rather just a tender nudge of awareness in practicing not abandoning myself. It is inevitable I will abandon myself at times, as I am human and unconscious and yet, I can choose to face that impulse to self abandon and choose to practice not abandoning myself each time I am aware. Abandonment is defined as the action of completely surrendering oneself to a desire or an impulse. For me personally, speaking only for myself, I abandoned myself in BDSM. I do not speak that as a shaming of sexuality, lest it be misconstrued as such. I do not feel BDSM is sexuality though it finds itself presently entwined in the social conversation as such. To me, sexuality does not restrict. Nor am I shaming myself for having lived BDSM, nor am I shaming others for choosing BDSM. To each their own. I do not support my words here being misused for mob mentality of hating those who choose BDSM or shaming those who choose it.
My conversation here is to expand the conversation beyond BDSM not to create a conversation of restriction. What I am saying is BDSM is not a necessary step in the ladder. It is not even a part of the ladder. To me, BDSM is a side path that if not taken does not hinder and further more can be beneficial to not take such a path at all. Again, it all comes down to choice. I am sharing information that is not available to most through the eyes and experience of an ex Dominatrix who has known this world for over a decade. And it is a dark world filled with pain, do not kid yourself by pretending or fantasizing otherwise. BDSM is rooted in pain and even without the SM [sado masochism] aspect, there is often a lot of hiding and pain dealing. There are many who use the shrouding of BDSM to get away with hurting people. I was one of them. Albeit often unconsciously, believing I was doing a service. It is not a coincidence that when I began deep work to face and heal the abuser in me, that BDSM lost its interest in my body. I am not speaking for any other Dom but myself. This is what has been true for me.
For those who use exploration of the shadow as a reason for BDSM, this is a misunderstanding of the shadow. Seeking awareness and doing the hard work of self sight is awareness of the shadow. We can see our own shadow in how we address another, or how we address ourselves. In our inflexibility, in our lack of boundaries, even in that beautiful experience we will not allow for ourselves. Facing the shadow is a facing of self that can occur with just the will of seeking. The shadow does not require an ambassador, it is already present. Embracement of the shadow is not a praising of the shadow, it is embracing shadow as a shunned aspect of self that is crying out for compassion and understanding. It does not mean to act out from shadow, rather to understand and transmute to embrace what the shadow is truly calling out for- love. Ignoring the shadow actually creates living from the shadow. Praising the shadow does the same. The shadow is a little alarm or a blaring horn that is simply a call for the inner journey to remember what is held deep in its folds, the love of self. Ego creates shadow as power, the shadow is not about power, that is ego game. The shadow is pure asking me to please remember love. In this, to me the shadow is self love.
To those who have feared the shaming of being called ‘prude’ or the gaslighting of being told they were bullying by not engaging nor entertaining BDSM, you are missing nothing by choosing to not be a part of BDSM. No one should ever tell you that you must support BDSM or engage in BDSM to be ‘sexually liberated’. No. No one should ever tell you that you need to do anything to be ‘sexually liberated’. Whatever that terminology is supposed to mean or means for one individual is unique to that individual. A virgin can be sexually liberated just as much as a sexually active person as it all comes down to authentic choice. Terms are not what is most important to me.
What I have found after 13 years of exploring BDSM is that everything I experienced in BDSM I could have experienced in meditation and more without hiding from my pain through forcing physical pain. Through tender actions of self care, through choosing to not abandon myself, through being relentlessly compassionate toward myself even in the face of my identity that wants to say I am not worth that, I find the spaces that I was seeking in between the pain of BDSM. Those loud powerful spaces that I muted through BDSM that without the hindrance, pour forward into my body awareness and self love. Those loud powerful spaces that I gave credit to BDSM but were actually not a part of BDSM at all. Those loud powerful spaces are simply me. Me unencumbered. Being a Dominatrix was a puny mimicry of trying to force my innate power. When the reality is my innate power does not need forcing, it just is. My innate power is not a control of outer circumstances nor people, my innate power does not know control, it is too big for that paradigm. My innate power is simply a being.
I will say again, I do not support the words I am saying here being used to ostracize people for their choices. Rather this is an opportunity to understand why some people seek BDSM who may not be aware something so much bigger and more readily available is right in them right now. I do not suppose to know people’s reason for choosing, rather I am saying this may be one of the reasons. I create this conversation to stand in possibility, to stand as an awareness for those who may feel they must choose BDSM or must stay in BDSM. BDSM is not necessary. There is another way and you are it.
As I choose to do the hard work of self love and self care -sometimes when I face my addictions it’s a downright inner war- and also open to the gentle tenderness of self care and self love readily available simply in a conscious breath, I am choosing to not abandon myself. In choosing to not abandon myself, I am choosing integrity.
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Painting by unknown.

The Body.

To me what I often experience is this. Those who practice a modality, such as Tantra, often begin to work like a body. However, as a body it is always open to getting sick. And as a body each individual makes up the body’s immune system. Now, when the immune system is in integrity it can recognize between pathogens -what actually creates disease, in this instance abuse and abusers, spiritual bypassing, righteous denial and arrogance. which hides abuse- and its own body. When the immune system is out of integrity it cannot distinguish between a pathogen and it’s own body and begins to attack itself.
 
Those standing up to abuse in the Tantric community are very clearly a healthy and vital part of the Tantric body and yet are often met in ‘Tantric’ spaces like they are not. Being a stand for victims, for integrity is a great stand that is for supporting the health of the Tantric body in action which begins in being. When the body senses pathogens it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack in order to keep the body healthy. Those standing for health, safety, the voice of victims and integrity in the Tantric community are only attacking the pathogens NOT the body. Yet is often confused as the other way around.
 
This is my experience as to what is often transpiring in Tantra and in any part of the human community. We are a body. If I am out of integrity with myself, I contribute to the body not being able to distinguish between pathogen and self. It absolutely all comes back to self as in doing my own work.
 
My integrity is a vital part of a healthy body. This is core.
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Words mine, Anatomy art by Juan Gatti.

Self Loathing and Self Love

In order for me to talk about self love I also need to talk about self loathing. I do not like talking about self loathing I mean ew who wants to acknowledge feeling that? However, I do feel it, it doesn’t run my life like it used to and it’s there. I’m sure self loathing will be present till my last day and to deny self loathing for me creates it as strong shadow.

To acknowledge self loathing, albeit it embarrassing or terrifying to admit even though every human feels it at some point or another, allows me to not hide away with it. With self loathing comes self punishment in the form of self talk that is not so kind. Especially if I have dissapointed myself and fallen back on some destructive habit in how I relate with others such as being suspicious of others intent and being defensive. When this happens, self loathing pops up like a jack in the box.

I now put in place really rallying for my self love when self loathing comes up. Doing the gentle work of self forgiveness and very importantly, looking at what do I need to put in place in my life to do better next time. I am very clear now that when I’m out of integrity, whether it’s dishes, laundry or not being organized with appointments etc, I get very whackado [yes that is my professional self diagnosis and no I did not go to college for that]. If I’m out of integrity with myself, same thing. Am I giving myself time for ample sleep? Doing the work on my projects I set out to do? Keeping my word to myself? Am I giving myself space to just have fun for the sheer hell of it?

The reason I also know I need to forgive myself -which does not mean dismiss what I have done or how I have shown up- is because self loathing is an unconscious way of not taking self responsibility and putting in place the actions and self care and self love I need to practice moving on from bad relating habits. If I stay in self loathing, I create the illusion I have learned something by punishing myself and that does not actually support me really learning the lesson I need to learn from my actions. It’s really not necessary to go into self loathing at all, logically I know this and it is still present and probably always will be on some level. This old form of self correct I believe comes from survival. If you feel bad, you learn the lesson, you survive. Short term, that works, long term it is not safe. Choosing to do the work to discover what it looks like to move from survival mode to thriving mode for me means exploring ways of allowing the lesson to show itself while being kind and gentle with me. This is my idea,l as much as I can practice doing this is healing. I deserve to love myself and I can possibly make a difference even a bit faster as I shorten the space I give for self loathing. Sometimes I am able to move through self loathing very quickly, other times, it takes a bit more work. When I wallow in self loathing and create the illusion I have learned something I subconsciously excuse myself from being the creator of my life and being able to love myself. I feel that also takes up some pretty valuable time I could be putting towards celebrating life and my being and simply enjoy the beauty in life. By moving into self love, I am able to grasp the impact of my actions and let go of self flagellation and really put things in place to do better next time.

Am I terrified I will mess up again? For sure. And that is part of learning is facing the fear and continuing to practice, practice, practice for my breakthrough. I’m worth that. To me this is how self love is self responsibility and self loathing simply a way to remind me to come back to the love I am. I feel this is what the shadow does and so for me, the shadow is self love. I am learning to acknowledge when self loathing has come present and affirm to myself that I am going to do the work to check in with my integrity and self care while learning the impact of how I showed up and trust myself to practice making changes. I’m seeing when I practice this, self love can show up just a little bit faster each time and for me this means self loathing is just a little less needed each time too.

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Listening To The Body: Pain

I don’t believe pain should be used for correction. When we use pain to correct a child’s behavior I believe it creates an abnormal relationship to pain and may even turn pain into a fetish. I see pain as very important and healthy, it is the body speaking saying ‘Something has happened or is happening, something is not right, please listen to me’.
 
Using pain as correction either in childhood or adulthood, ether physically or emotionally, I feel can support muting the voice of pain in the body. If pain is used to correct, it is no longer a language of the body to be heard, but rather an experience to avoid and mute out. This can be dangerous. Pain is not bad, it is the voice of the body calling us to check in, same with emotional pain I feel. Pain is not the issue it is the relationship with pain or lack thereof that can cause issues. Pain is the body’s gift to remind of safety and to check in with health.
 
Being present with and listening to pain, having a mindful relationship with pain, is a vital part of health. The relationship with pain I don’t believe needs to be so scary, but rather a call for health.
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Self Love Warrior

The warrior in me has held my hand through trials and unknown, to bring me from war weary battlefields to the beauty of braving the challenge of being the Love I know myself to be.