It’s been a while since I listened to the podcast The People of Kink, but when I’m speaking with new friends or clients, I frequently think about the question the host Crazy Heart would open with in the early episodes: “What is your earliest memory of kink?” When I first heard the question, it took me a while to think of an experience I would consider my first taste of kink. When I did come up with something, my initial thought was that it was perhaps too “vanilla,” but the more I reflected on it, the more appropriate it seemed.
I grew up on a farm in Massachusetts and visited the feed store quite a bit when I was young. While my parents went about their business, I remember quite clearly being drawn to the large wooden barrels filled with different types of birdseed or grain. The gleam and texture of each different kind was so inviting. It was difficult to choose which barrel I would dip my hand in first. I remember deciding on a barrel with a small, shiny black seed first. I pushed my small hand through the surface, and then my arm – all the way up to the elbow. The sensation of piercing the grainy beads was exquisite. Once immersed, I closed my eyes and slowly raised my arm, focusing on the sensations of the pieces gliding over and falling around my skin. It was delicious and heady in a way that still makes me smile to think of it.
The reason it took me a while to come to terms with this particular experience as my first was that, compared to many of the answers other folks gave to that same question on the podcast, my answer felt too tame. That said, as I gained experience in the lifestyle, it became quite clear that it was by no means tame…simply different from what I was accustomed to seeing or hearing about the stereotypes of BDSM or fetish.
You see, I am a sensualist. I revel in sensation. I adore sensory deprivation. The experience of dipping my hand into that barrel was an impetus for me to explore a more mindful approach to sensory stimulation and eventually, my kinky play. I don’t see sensation as simply that which is tied to your physical body, but also what is tied to the mind. While it’s not always obvious when our attention is scattered in the details of our day to day lives, there is a direct and clear connection between our mind and body. Our minds play upon our bodies constantly. Our emotions can leave us feeling tight, relaxed, scared, excited, anxious, etc. It all presents as sensations in the body, and when you’re mindful enough, you can enjoy a much wider and more intense range of sensations than what we tend to limit ourselves to when we’re only physically present.
When I say I’m a sensualist, some people might make the mistake of thinking that means my play errs on the lighter side. While I certainly do play on the lighter side, sensation play can also include heavier and edgier activities (if one desires): impact, needle play, CBT, fire play, mummification, breath play, etc. Each of these kinds of play elicits a multitude of sensations in the body. And when lighter play is interspersed with more intense sensation, they each make the other that much more extraordinary for a mindful individual.
When I play with someone, it’s important they are just as mindful of the environment, the energy, and the person they’re playing with as I am. I encourage and appreciate an energy exchange that is similar in intensity and a mindfulness that envelops us both in the sensations of our play. This is where I find the most fulfillment – not only in my play, but in our play.
Embracing my identity as a sensualist and sharing it with those who appreciate it has been an incredibly fulfilling experience – especially when I’m sharing it with someone who is hesitant to accept their own desires. As I’ve discovered, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your passions (within the realm of consent and causing no harm, of course). For those who come to me looking to identify and/or explore their desires, it’s my pleasure to offer a safe space to explore, play, and hopefully embrace aspects of themselves that make them feel that much more fulfilled.