Updated: Aug 22
If you have spent any time on kink blogs, podcasts, or in a class, you have heard people mention “head space.” Head space refers to the emotional and cognitive space people want to be in when engaging in kink. It is basically shutting down your squirrel brain (the part that is always making to-do lists, worrying, etc.) and becoming present with the moment AND embodying you role in kink.
This little term does a lot of heavy lifting!
This post breaks down the different aspects of head space and provides tips and tools to help you enter, maintain, and exist this space safely.
Understanding Head Space
Head space is referred to as the cognitive and emotional space a person enters in order to be present and engage in kink activities from their chosen side of the slash. For most kinky people, getting into the right head space means that they are fully present, they are in an emotional place where they can play safely (e.g., not angry), and they are grounded enough in their bodies to undergo the type of play they desire.
To enter the right head space requires that you shut off your “squirrel brain.” Squirrel brain is the term I give to the part of your brain that is constantly scanning the environment, making lists, worrying about to-do’s, and bounces from one thought to the next. Squirrel brain is what keeps you from focusing on the moment and being fully present.
The emotional aspect of head space is different for people operating from different sides of the slash. For dominant roles, the emotional space is a space where they are comfortable taking control, giving demands, and receiving service. For submissives, it is a space where they are ready to serve, to accept commands, and are ready to relinquish control.
Because head space is a complex interaction of mindfulness, emotional availability, and physcial preparedness, it is not something most people function in 24/7. Rather, we choose to enter this head space to engage in play scenes and at events.
How Do I Get Into Head Space?
Every person will have a bit of a different route to entering the right head space for play and events. However, everyone has a version of centering themselves, checking in with their body and emotions, and becoming more focuses. Below are a series of activities which can help people enter the right head space.
Grooming and Dressing Rituals
Many people find that putting on specific clothing or grooming in a particular manner can help get them ready for play or an event. This can include dressing in kink wear (e.g., corsets, boots, leather), donning symbolic wear (e.g., collar, Master’s cap, vest), or putting on clothing specifically purchased for an event. The act of dressing for the occasion can help people begin to transition from the home/work mindset into a more kink-focused head space.
Collaring rituals can be a significant aspect of getting into head space. A collar is a special piece of jewelry worn by kinky people to show ownership/being owned. This may just be donned for play purposes, as a daily practice, or for special occasions. Many kinky people create a ritual around putting on a collar of their submissive. Often this will include having the submissive partner kneel or take a designated position and the dominant then places the collar on them. People who use a play collar with the same partner often report that once they have had the collar placed on them, they feel a deep shift in their head space.
Other grooming rituals may include shaving, waxing body hair, styling your hair or mustache, or adding make-up or body paint. When the way you shave, style your hair, or put on make-up is different than what you wear on a daily basis, these actions can help someone prepare to enter kinky head space.
Many kinky folks have mantras they use in a variety of situations. Some kinky folks find it helpful to have a mantra to say prior to entering a play scene or while preparing to go out to an event.
A mantra is a short saying or set of sentences which you repeat to yourself. These can help you reinforce things you want to believe and feel. They can help build up your identity as well. If you create a mantra which helps you enter head space before play, it can be useful to say it while getting ready or to your dominant prior to starting a scene.
For information on mantra writing, check out this post.
Mindful breathing can be very helpful for entering the right head space. I am a big fan of breathing with your dominant before a scene. To do this. your dominant places their hand on your chest and belly. If they are facing you, they may ask you to place your hands on their chest and belly as well.
The dominant begins slow, mindful breathing. This breathing is generally an inhalation which last for a count of four, a breif pause, and then an exhalation for a count of six. It is then repeated. As a submissive, you breing your breathing into sync with your dominant.
This practice not only helps both of you focus intensely for the scene. it quiets the mind, and brings you and your partner into physcial sync before play beging.
If your domiant is not a fan of these practices, you can practice mindful breathing prior to the start of the scene, while waitng for a dominant to collar you or give you instructions, or shortly before you meet up with your partner.
Kink play involves a lot of touching and body sensations. Having pain, stress, tightness, or achiness in your body before play can interrupt the play or prevent you from fully enjoying the session. Prior to play, take a couple of minutes to scan your body. In a quiet space (this can even be the bathroom at a dungeon), draw your attention to each body part starting with your toes and working up to your head. Pay attention to how each part feels. Note any discomfort or achiness. Let your partner know what parts of your body feel great, which ones hurt, and which ones need special attention during the scene.
This check in also provides a safety catch. Most of us have to ignore tension and pain in our bodies to function in this world. We often do not notice an issue with a body part until it starts giving us real trouble. Doing a body check-in can alert us to places which store stress or hurt before it becomes a serious issue. It will also provide your partners a guide as to which parts to be particularly gentle or careful with during play to prevent injury.
Kink is consent-based. When you engage in kinky play, you and your partner(s) have negotiated the boundaries of they play or scene. Being asked to state your safe words, to re-consent to the behavior, or to affirm you still want to play is a great way to help both partners get into the right head space. Hearing a dominant ask, “So, you are still okay to the beating and piss play scene we agreed to” with a big smile on their face is sexy, safe, and helpful to getting ready for the scene.
Dirty talk is more than just what you see models in pornography. It can include using honorifics, giving directions, providing feedback, and using degrading or humiliating perviously negotiated. Talking to your parnter during a scene can help keep both of you in the right head space during a scene.
If you or your partner has a difficult time stying focused and in the right head space during a scene, try addint in bit of sexy talk. Adding check-in points, asking or giving feedback, and giving commands can all help you and your partner’s stay focused. The added communication will also improve your kink overall.
Negotiating aftercare is critical for any scene. If you need help planning aftercare, check out this blog. Including language to help you ease back into your body can help settle you after a scene and make it safer to enter head space in future scenes.
Both sides of the slash need after care. Talk about how you link to be praised and comforted after a scene. Do you need to know you did well? Did you need ot know your partner had a good time? Do you want a gold star or letter grade? Whatever it is that leaves you feeling better about the scene, make sure you ask for it.
Getting and staying in the right head space takes time and preactice. Try different suggestions above until you find what works for you and your partner(s).