Whether ’50 Shades of Gray’ rode the wave or created it, you may have noticed, there’s more kink around.  But what is it?  And what does it mean to be ‘conscious’ about it?

Among my body-awareness-practitioner-friends, we regularly talk about the body’s wisdom.  And if that’s not counter-cultural enough, talking about kink, despite its surging popularity, is even more so.  But if there’s an organic intelligence that emerges through the body, what’s the wisdom being expressed here?

The upcoming ‘Conscious Kink’ workshop is an attempt to shed light on the world of kink through the lenses of Somatic Experiencing (SE), Mindfulness, Yoga, Himalayan Tantra and practices supporting Unconditional Love.

As a Somatic Therapist and Sex Educator with a focus on sexuality and trauma, this workshop is informed by the many clients with whom I’ve worked, who teach me daily about kink, what it offers, how it can go wrong and the triumphs of healing that are possible.  I will be joined by Maria Merloni, a long-time kink aficionado.

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Definitions:  What is Kink?

  •  Miriam Webster says this:
    • …a clever unusual way of doing something’
    • a cramp in some part of the body
    • unconventional sexual taste or behavior…
  • Pop culture says this:
    • Kink  is considered to be a flavor of sexuality that includes experimentation with
      • power dynamics
      • intense sensations
      • role playing

Client Reports

What I know, is that folks who love kink, Love kink,  It really does something for them.

One client expressed it like this:  ‘you know how when you’re trying to get ketchup out of the bottle and you have to bam-bam-bam it, in order to get the ketchup to flow?  That’s kink for me.  It makes everything flow.’

Another client simply says, ‘it’s my path to God’.

Another, ‘such sweet surrender’.

So what’s going on here?


A few bullet points of important context.

  • We’re a culture in crisis, undergoing a major cultural evolution.
    • Every major cultural evolution happens with significant changes in our sexual expression.  Think about the Industrial Revolution and the sexual freedom that emerged in the 60’s.
      • We’re experiencing a very fast shift in our acceptance of sexual orientation, gender fluidity, transgender expression and kink.
  • Brene Brown calls us the ‘most in debt, obese, medicated, and addicted adult color in U.S history’.
    • That’s to say, we’re a suffering people.  We’re hungry for real connection and intimacy.  We’re also hungry for access to the depth and mystery of what it means to be human.
  • Thomas Berry says ‘There’s no culture on the planet that is equipped with the means for meeting today’s challenges…we have to go back to our genetic imperative.’
    • My own experience?  Mindfulness, SE, Yoga, Himalay Tantra and practices of Unconditional Love speak to the core of who we are as human beings.

So Why kink now?

Lessons from Himalayan Tantra (HT)

HT says, we have a fundamental need for connection to authentic forms of depth, power and mystery.  Kink offers this in ways that modern culture has utterly failed us.  And so, it serves as a cultural corrective, salve for our hungry souls.

A Himalayan Tantric map that illuminates this fully lies in a 3000 year old Vedic text.

  • The Mandukyapanishads describes the Multiple Realms of Consciousness, we have access to as human beings.  We can only fully thrive when we can access all four.
    • Every Day Waking Consciousness – what we think of as reality in western culture
    • The Mythical Realm – the territory of the Gods (Jungians call it archetypal energy)
    • The Magical Realm – the realm of pure sensation and energy, beyond time, space casualty
    • The Integral Realm – the experience of all of these at one time

In what I like to refer to as an ‘unconsciously competent’ move, kink unwittingly accesses all of these Realms and therefore offers a doorway into the following:

  • Authentic Power:  despite its predilection for power-play, kink gives us access to forms of personal power that are NOT about domination and submission, and which are not easily accessed in Every Day Waking Consciousness.
  • Depth and Connection:  kink offers opportunities for exquisite presence, communication, intimacy and awareness as it pierces the present moment in play.
  • Mystery:  kink can be a doorway to mysteries that cannot be explained by scientific paradigm

Add ‘human need’ together with ‘access to source’ and the power of kink’s draw is potent.  Left unconscious, it can offer up some potentially troublesome pitfalls as well.

Somatic Experiencing has a lot to say about these pitfalls, and ways one might better avoid them.

From Somatic Experiencing (SE):

SE defines trauma in a profoundly different way than psychotherapy.  It sees trauma as the result of thwarted threat response – a daily experience in modern culture, for a nervous system that evolved embedded in nature.  SE holds that:

  • From an evolutionary perspective, our Paleolithic nervous system’s experience of our culture is one of profound disconnection — even ‘dangerous’.  Subsequently – we all carry a ‘trauma load’, which shows up as a profound level of disconnection from the body.  We unconsciously over-ride our bodies instincts in ways that are culturally supported and therefore ‘invisible’ to us.
  • This over-ride creates ways in which we cannot always access our ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
  • Well-meaning people can unwittingly, get into trouble in the kink  world.  The door’s wide open for those who are less well meaning.
  • It takes enormous self-awareness and good will, to ‘do-no-harm’.

How do we avoid doing harm?

From Mindfulness, Yoga, Somatic Experiencing, Himalayan Tantra:

  • Healing the disconnection of trauma is key
  • Awareness and body-connection are key
  • Many practices from each of these traditions can re-build a connection back to the body so that we might become proficient with setting boundaries and recognize our unconscious material when it shows up
  • It’s crucial to know that there are places in all of us, where ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’.

Notes about Unconditional Love:

  • More than anything else we want to love and be loved.  When we feel unconditionally loved, nothing else matters.  When we don’t, nothing else is enough.
  • When we feel more love in our lives, we are less likely to ‘over-ride’ the body-based ‘danger signals’ that warn us when we’re in unsafe territory.
  • There are skills we can learn for Loving Unconditionally
  • Except in cases of outright abuse and coercion, each client of mine, who got into trouble with kink, was disconnected, or over-riding body signals of danger, that could have told them to ‘stop’ rather than proceed.

In summary, the world of kink has enormous gifts for those who are ‘ready’.  As a deep soul-building practice, it asks us to heal our individual part of the collective, cultural wounds around body-disconnection; and that this be an integral part of the journey.  With care and attention, there’s much grace to be revealed.

If you’d like to learn more, please join me and Maria Merloni, in the upcoming workshop on ‘Conscious Kink’.

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