Dealing with the drop

One of my Domme School students recently asked me how to deal with the drop that often comes after doing BDSM. In response to this question I have  good news and bad news. The good news is that it is possible to accept and integrate the drop as part of the experience; and the even better news is, that learning to do this is part of the journey towards being more whole. The bad news is that the capitalist-sanctioned version of dealing with this is not the way. My student correctly identifies this, when she writes:

I feel really good about the fact that I am so much more present with everything at the moment. I am not having an issue of ‘disappearing’ or not feeling grounded during a scene or in moments that are intense for whatever reason. But WOW am I having a come-down afterwards. And I find it really hard to just sit with whatever emotions are arising rather than say, drink, eat biscuits, exercise like a maniac, take Night Nurse and sleep it off, go to the pictures – basically I find myself feeling quite down and ‘wigging out’ for want of a better word and I want to do any activity available to distract myself from whatever it is that I’m feeling. Which doesn’t feel like a very healthy way to approach it.

She has really captured the heart of the issue here: by being more present with everything, we experience more of the difficult emotions as well as more of the joyful ones. It simply can’t be another way – by opening ourselves up to feeling more, we have to take the downs with the ups. Brene Brown describes this beautifully in her famous TED talk on vulnerability; and it is described even more clearly in this stunning article by Jeannette Leblanc:

We all have moments of brilliance – experiences that wake us up to the sheer beauty of the universe and chip away at our cynicism and distrust. Interactions that feed our souls, open our hearts and convince us that just possibly-maybe-perhaps life really is inherently good. And those moments, my sweet friends, only occur under certain circumstances. When we are safe, or brave, or distracted, or bad-ass-crazy-enough to lower the veils, dismantle the walls, and blast the hell through that numbness into a place of deep feeling.

Brilliance never settles for superficial. Brilliance only happens when we let ourselves be moved. And brilliance rarely feels entirely gentle. Yes, it can be transcendent and awe-inspiring and all kinds of fabulous. But it can also be utterly terrifying. (Read the full article here >>)

The question is, how can we make it safe for us to feel the downs as well as the ups, whether it’s the comedown from a BDSM session or leaving a beautiful festival of conscious clubbing like Puravida? This is a subject that’s dear to my heart, as I experience a lot of separation anxiety when I come away from a highly-connected space.

An important starting-point is to understand what is happening at a deeper level. When we open ourselves up and truly let ourselves be moved, we connect with All That Is. Often we experience this through a profound connection with one other person, but it is actually much deeper than this. By truly connecting with another we are connecting to what I call ‘the grid’ – the network of universal energy from which we are made. Through conscious sexuality (and a host of other practices) we can connect with the very source of our Being.

One big aspect of being human is our separateness. At a soul level we may know that we are always connected, but the experience of being human is to feel the separateness more keenly than the connection. And this hurts.

When we enter a magical space, we reconnect. It is no coincidence that any teacher worth their salt talks about ‘lowering our borders’ and ‘letting down our guard’ as the key to entering this connected space. Energetically we are dropping the things that keep us separate, and allowing ourselves to connect with others, and beyond them to everything. It takes courage to enter this space, and it hurts to leave it.

Yet in learning to enter and leave that deeply-connected space again and again, we become more whole and more free. It’s as if we’re rehearsing for the final surrender, the moment when Death taps us on the shoulder and tells us our time is up. Each time we surrender into a magical space and let go of our separateness, we are learning how to surrender a little more. And each time we are forced back to our individuated sense of self, we are learning to experience the transition more fully. For me this is the essence of being human.

Once we understand what is happening at a deeper level, there are some practical things that can help us stay just on the edge of our comfort zone and not go into terror. (More on this important concept here >>)

Time & space: it is said that nothing heals but time, and this is definitely true for these transitions. Going straight from an amazing BDSM scene to a busy job is a bad idea. Putting space around the experience so we can feel the comedown is a good idea. By removing as many external pressures as possible, we can integrate quicker and with less pain.

Ease and comfort: after we open ourselves up it is important to be gentle with ourselves. Going straight from an incredible workshop to a house full of kids needing our attention may sometimes be necessary, but it’s better if we can avoid any challenging situations when we’re this open. For me a soft warm bed and a close friend I can cuddle up with is a necessity after leading a weekend workshop. For others it may be a long walk in the country or a relaxed drift through a favourite museum. Each of us knows the things that feel easeful, safe and comfortable for us: lining these lovely things up at the end of an intense experience is an excellent way to nurture ourselves through the comedown.

Acceptance: everything in our culture teaches us to chase pleasure and avoid pain. This simply doesn’t work, in fact it does the opposite: it’s the path to feeling worse or feeling less. (Without wishing to get too political, that is the purpose of the message: to keep us craven and unhappy so we spend more money on useless shit we don’t need.) By contrast, accepting the comedown as part of the experience is the quickest way to integrate it. The fastest way through is through: there’s no value in dodging this part of the experience. If we repeatedly shut down the discomfort, we reduce our capacity for joy too. So accepting pain as part of pleasure is the same as accepting death as part of life. Again, this is an opportunity to become more whole and to rehearse for the ultimate surrender.

Osho expresses this beautifully when he says:

Watch the waves in the ocean. The higher the wave goes, the deeper is the wake that follows it. One moment you are the wave, another moment you are the hollow wake that follows. Enjoy both – don’t get addicted to one. Don’t say: ‘I would always like to be on the peak.’ It is not possible … what is wrong with being low? It is a relaxation. A peak is an excitement, and nobody can exist continuously in an excitement.

Practice: the more times we go in and out of magical spaces, the better we get at it. The first few times hurt the most, just as the muscles ache after the first few runs when we begin training. Over time the muscles become more supple and we can push ourselves further, do things with less effort. So it is with moving in and out of deep connectedness.

And with practice we develop our own strategies for moving in and out of these spaces. One of my favourite ones is the protracted goodbye, which much dismays whoever is giving me a ride home after a big weekend. For me, saying goodbye is difficult and painful; so rather than avoiding or rushing it, I draw it out and feel the pain inherent in the separation right there in the moment. Often I cry a little as I look into the eyes of my beloved friends and bid them farewell. Very often I cry even more when I’m on the way home, as I feel the separation move through my entire system. By the next morning it’s generally done, and I’m ready to rest before the next adventure.

This is my strategy and it works for me, but it’s not for everyone. (My dear friend Claire still mocks me for how long it takes me to leave a magical space. She has her own way, which is quite different, but equally valid.) With practice you will develop strategies that work for you, and make the transition more bearable.

Reconnecting practices: the illusion about a magical space is that the connection is with the other person or people in that space. The reality is that the connection is deeper – it is with All That Is. So anything we do to gently reconnect with source in the days that follow helps a lot. Examples of this are any form of still or active meditation, dancing, singing or taking a long walk in nature. There are many other examples. it’s highly personal and most of us know what makes us feel connected. By acknowledging that we have connected with something beyond ourselves we can seek out the things that gently reconnect us to that place within ourselves. As well as soothing the pain it reminds us that we don’t need others to connect.

Acknowledging our importance: one of the ways in which we stay in our egos is to pretend that we don’t matter. This is called ‘playing small’. Often this return to an egoic state is a way to shut down the power we felt in the expansive space of connectedness. The tonic to this is to acknowledge our importance, and the fact that we are a valued and important part of everything. Once we do this we take the comedown more seriously, because we honour our own process including the difficult bits. This also helps us to grow and stop being falsely humble. Playing small is just as egoic as falsely bigging ourselves up.

So these are my tips for dealing with the drop, whether this comes after BDSM, lovemaking, an intense workshop or a beautiful festival. What have you found working for you to deal with the fallout? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please post then in the box below and share them with our beloved readers.

Comments

3 comments


  • Becky

    Beautiful, gentle, supportive article faerie. Thanks! Ps looking forward to saying goodbye to you some time 😉

    June 11, 2014
  • Jools

    Very timely and very wise- yet again- thanks Faerie. I’m dealing with triple drop today; post Elsewhere, Morning Glory and Fire Magik Ritual. I left each event differently responding to the impulse and the feeling of the moment, I am dropping into the pain today and am grateful for the space and time I’ve given myself to feel it; walking, meditating, pyjamas.

    October 31, 2014
  • Katy

    This came to me when I needed it, thank you. Beautifully written, it resonates in its truth. I’m still learning that honouring myself, my experiences, beautiful souls and magical places is both important and necessary. I don’t want ego and mental chatter to fill the space that has been left. I’ve been given permission to write, to allow myself to feel – to relearn how to feel and have pain.

    December 02, 2014

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