Subspace is the altered psychological state of being that is often represented by actions, feelings, thoughts and images brought on by adrenaline and endorphin waves and spikes that may occur during a scene.
Most commonly subspace occurs in bottoms, though it may also occur in tops and can alternately be referred to as bottom space, top space and dom space and the moniker "space" can be applied to nearly any status role such as "pony space" to indicate that the person is feeling more like their role. As such sub space is sometimes referred to as "head space" or simply "space". The practice of reaching a particular "space" will develop a certain level of muscle memory, indicating that doing so often becomes easier with focus and practice in a healthy mind and body.
Tops that experience the phenomenon tend to report more of an energy high indicating greater adrenaline spikes, than bottoms who report great mental and emotional highs consistent with greater endorphin spikes. It is speculated this is due to the difference in activities as switches have reported experiencing both forms.
Intense spikes of endorphins and adrenaline that can occur during play may lead to drop.
Levels of Head Space
Levels of head space are commonly achieved through manipulations of endorphins by the top and the bottom, though practiced bottoms and tops can achieve deeper states faster through use of techniques and psychological processing and conditioning. The top may experience some of their own head space as a sympathetic high or have it brought on by their own activities.
There are literally dozens of hypnoidal scales which may range from 3-50 levels that might classify levels of headspace. The most important differentiations are listed here.
Reception can bring on a greater level of social compliance with a status role which is dependent upon personality traits and the relationship dynamics that are at work. This will often be accompanied by touching of the face and hair, looking at the mouth of the partner, general or sexual arousal, increased levels of trust, and mirroring the behavior of the partner in some fashion/leading the behavior of the partner.
Compliance with a status role at this stage will start to resonate more deeply and may start to appear to resemble a strong relaxation and focus or hypnotic trance that can grow increasingly deeper.
This state will cause breathing and the mental process to become dulled/slower or similar to a deep meditative state of being. Rational thoughts, use of a safe word or active safe signal may start to become difficult and even impossible during this stage. Verbal response can be slow to come or non existent. At this stage it is important to have previously established a passive safe signals when approaching this level of play, a recommended method would be to use the brush drop followed by the two squeezes test.
Behaviors resulting from this kind of play may include:
- ecstatic laughter
- intense sobbing
- guttural growling
Sometimes called deep space or the roaring void, this experience takes one far past a typical trance and is often deemed incomprehensible by those that experience it. Medically the condition is also sometimes referred to as endorphin shock. Flying is the end result of a series of chemical and emotional loads released into the body during play over an extended period of time. The results are similar to descriptions of an out of body experience and are often interpreted as spiritual. Some have described it as being hallucinogenic/hypnotic/floating outside of themselves.
Often times the bottom will be entirely unresponsive and established safe signals such as the two squeezes test will fail, indicating it is time for play to cease and gently move into aftercare. They may also begin to have one or more of their limbs shake, or even pass out entirely from the natural high. Be prepared if approaching this level to have the bottom fall out suddenly and entirely so that they may do so in a safe fashion such as by having them already laying down, lowering them to a one inch drop to a large cushion if in suspension, or secured in suspension cuffs or to bondage furniture.
It is important to be especially careful with someone in this state. They require a lot of nurturing and aftercare once they have reached this state and are especially vulnerable. It is widely considered unethical to bring a person to this state and refuse to provide aftercare. Commonly aftercare for someone who has reached this state can last thirty minutes to two hours. The bottom absolutely should not be permitted to drive or operate heavy machinery until clearly passing a sobriety test of their motor skills if they have reached this state.
For medical information concerning this state see endorphin shock.