edit 2 : 2.21.17


The Razma Movement Method

Vol 1 : Co-consent as Foundation for Safe Abundant Loving Touch

By : Alexa Razma


The purpose of this book

This is the book that I wish I had read before I became a teenager, as I believe learning and practicing these skills would have allowed me to avoid losing my virginity to rape.

The responsibility and duty to share my knowledge and circumvent the violation and self-blame that I lived through was the fierce fire that catalyzed the creation of this work. Living through this experience, embarking on an all-consuming healing journey and coming out the other side made me a more compassionate and perceptive person. I hope that you can harvest harmony from the hardships of my journey. This tome is a written wish that all physical interactions are enthusiastically consented to so that we can co-create an abundant world of pleasure as prayer together.

This series of books is a roadmap – taking readers from feeling disembodied and disconnected to emerging as an in-tune body genius. At the culmination of this course graduates with a Soma Diploma will be proficient in not only the Razma Movement Method, but also informed by the diverse physical palate of the evolving edge of therapeutic touch – Radical Bodywork.

In Volume One I lay down the foundational structures to creating the trust and safety needed to form deep intimacy. This education is two pronged : firstly to delve deeply into the inner world – building self-knowledge and the confidence to convey this clearly externally and secondly to train body language literacy so that we can read the signals of our playmates. When this holistic proactive education system is put fully into practice it acts as both predator-prevention (through training attunement to other) and moves potential victims from inhibition through exhibition and confidence in clearly expressing emotion. Through work on both sides of the predatory/prey dichotomy, we rewrite the antiquated *dis-responsible cultural narrative so that all parties can be sure that a wholehearted state of agreement called co-consent is constantly being created. Co- consent is shorthand for continuous collaborative co-creative connected compassionate communicative community-cradled consent. I fully believe that most people do not want to have predatory energy, but are culturally conditioned to believe that predatory scripts of behavior are the only way that they can get their needs met. Providing signposts to educate others in body language and wrting a replicable blueprint for creating a plethora of places to get platonic physical contact needs met will solve issues of violence stemming from touch isolation and promote peace on our planet.

Through first deepening our relationship to inner self-knowledge we then apply this honed sense to expansion – including what had previously been labelled as ‘other’ within our awareness of self. It is my dream that we expand our attention to include not just members of the human race but also all species and the biosphere of the Earth as a whole. In this attunement process we deepen access to our senses – taking in a fuller environmental richness while enhancing intimacy and immediacy. Through attuning to increased depth of detailed data, we are more informed – finding dexterity in decision making.

Outline of Volume One

We begin at the Introduction – why I was particularly suited to write this tome and where my compulsion to do so came from.

Part One is a brief history of some of the philosophical underpinning how we got to where we are today.

Part Two is a deep personal dive – probing individual preferences and boundaries and the histories that formed them. It is highly recommended to find a Razma Movement Method practitioner, SomanautZ playmate, bodyworker, somatic therapist, or compassionate friend to reveal the roots of past pain in relationship. With supportive witnesses and allies we can examine the past without judgement spaciously, unpacking trauma that no longer serves our desired future, replacing unexamined patterns with new grooves that reinforce a new way of being in the world. Here we find an easeful style of vocalization and gain comfort in expressing ourselves both verbally and physically. In understanding the depth and nuance of personal needs, interests, and proclivities and speaking about them to others with clarity, we get a visceral sense of how to honor and respect the specific preferences of others.

In Part Three we delve into the complexities of consent and how to interact with others consensually through energetic, physical, and verbal means.

In Part Four we share Soma-tech : unique healing modalities and ways of interrelating pioneered by the radical bodyworkers evolving the edge of intimacy and performance healing – the SomanautZ ( Together we discover novel ways to get needs met – reframing being attached to a certain activity into going after a feeling or emotion (such as intimacy or feeling loved). **

Initially I had stripped this handbook of any personal detail, but was informed time and time again that humankind learns and encodes evolution most memorably through the sharing of personal stories and legends. So I step into the vulnerability of sharing self, think me not egotistical that interwoven throughout this tome is my own tale of somatic and psychological healing to provide a personal example of one empath’s journey of going through rape and embodied trauma and the tools that helped me heal.  May this sharing aid all in their path to wholeness.


After reading this book you will have a toolkit to be :

Self-aware : Navigating the world understanding your boundaries, needs, preferences, and edges. As an expert in your own body language signals you are acutely aware of boundrary approaches and you will have a clear sense of when you are attracted and repulsed to various offers. You know the underlying history of why you have such reactions, how your boundraries have changed ove time and the situational, interpersonal and environmental charachteristics that cause the edges and ridigity of your boundraries to ebb and flow. You are familiar with your trauma and triggers, working to unwind projections playfully, releasing patterns that no longer serve and acknowledging systems that keep you safe- consciously cultivating the skill of intuition.

Self-expressive : Comfortable vocalizing your no/yes/more/less/pause/refresh you communicate early and often. You are able to communicate and receive message acoss all channels – verbal, physical, emotional, energetic, and situtional. Your diverse range of emotional nuance is able to overly any statement with multifaceted meaning. Aware of body language signals that you give off, you are cognizant of how you come across to others, presentation and preference in alignment.

Other-aware : Understanding the unique physical communication signals of your partner, you are abke to communicate non-verbally, especially when they are in a surrendered subspace and may be unable or unwilling to speak. You are attuned to the impact of your actions on others and seek the highest heaven yes of all involved. You are cultivating your ability to melt into a point of contact with other bodies and from these enter into sensing the inner experience of another. You have expanded your sense of self to enfold others and have an internal connection to the biosphere.

Collaborative : You are familiar with the foundation necessary to set up a safe abundant loving touch container and maintain its integrity. You can find compatibility easefully, and quickly connect intimately with physical playmates through platonic touch. You are a confident cuddly cat – well versed in techniques to make others feel good while deriving benefit from the touch yourself.

Touch abundant : You have no shortage of touch playmates (dance, massage, cuddle, and bodywork partners) looking forward to playdates. You are practiced in interacing with a diverse population and know the trending commonalities of what bodies generally tend to like while tuning into the nuances of your specific current playmate. Your touch needs do not unconsciously default to falling on a romantic partner and your nurturing touch needs are distributed along lines of mutual interest. This naturally leads to less (or completely absent) internal social stress, anxiety, and pressure when desiring to make sure all goes well with that special someone. You feel more connected, whole, and abundant in physical love – no longer projecting hungry, grabby, or needy vampire energy.

Introduction – author background / history

Why am I writing this?

I am driven to create this work as information and techniques I wish I had abundant access to in my youth. I seek to expand the accessibility of the healing tools I have been privileged to experiment, gather, distil and synthesize. I was sheltered and naïve in the realms of my own dis/likes and had no consensual sexual experience before my virginity was taken by rape at the age of 20. Releasing this work is my actionable wish for a future in which all interpersonal interactions, especially in the realm of touch (both platonic and sexual), have been enthusiastically consented to. Had I practiced these exercises in a low-pressure environment before being alone with a man I did not know I would have developed confidence in defending my boundaries vocally and physically and I would not have been violated. Post-penetration I realized that I needed to develop internal understanding and confidence in communicating my boundaries in a clear, compassionate, and graceful manner.

In my healing journey I found a transpersonal psychologist who focused on somatics. I pivoted from Bio-Premed studies to Human Development and Psychological Studies at Northwestern University in a concentrated effort to meta-analyze my own mind within a mainstream frame. I journaled and cultivated catharsis through art (especially in my Touch and Drip series of acrylic paintings in which I was literally caressing the canvas with my fingers as paintbrushes and washing my wounds and wide brush strokes ith waters to smooth the edges into a sea of color). I educated myself about consent. Yet there were patterns in my body I could not dislodge with discussion alone, no matter how compassionate the listening ear.

I sought out exercises to practice consent and found the landscape lacking, as much of the content I came across assumed a high level of self-knowledge about dis/likes and a well-developed expressive voice – neither of which had been fostered in my sheltered introverted intellectual bookish Midwestern Lithuanian upbringing in an forest preserve. The education system did not teach me a word about consent, relational skills, or confident personal expression. Even in my adult life as I scoured books, the internet, class, and workshop offerings I did not come across any venue to physically practice consent in a learning environment (as opposed to verbally discussing and puzzling through the philosophical and ethical quandaries – another essential pursuit enriching the practical work comprising this book). Thus, this tome is chock full of journal prompts for personal reflection, solo excercizes [sic] to cultivate personal skills, and partner and group exercises to engage interpersonal dynamics in a living learning laboratory.

Taking these unmet needs into account I developed the program I wish I had gone through by reflecting on my own evolution and streamlining the necessary sequence of skill building – shortcutting the long winding and laborious path I had tread. Through this self-analytical process, I began from a blank skill slate – without assuming prior proficiency – a novel idea from any other work in the marketplace. As any physical or cultural architect knows, the strength of the structure depends on a solid foundation and sequential scaffolding to ensure all have learned from the same playbook and have shared understanding and skill. Through beginning from the foundational tools that other teachings assume to be present I can ensure soundness in my system as a whole – an essential or me to feel responsible in teaching my intimate full body contact Razma Movement Method. I wanted no place for shadow predatory energy to hide, proclaim ignorance, or prey on personal or cultural inexperience or naivete. This all-encompassing approach has the side benefit of benefitting those who are younger in years or those who have not had experiences witnessing model inter-relational or self-knowledge.

The format of this book also has the added benefit of unpacking cultural assumptions and gendered indoctrination we take for granted. To this end, I have compiled and generated exercises that can be done both inside and outside the context of an intimate partnership. The circle of experience ripples outward, moving from solo inquiries and writing prompts to hone internal awareness, to exercises being amenable to practice with friends or even public situations to provide an abundance of contexts in which to practice. In the end, much as various movement practices and martial arts have sequentially deep graduations, the final level of the Soma Diploma involves deep partner and group tracking that is best done under the supervision of a certified teacher of the Razma Movement Method.

There is a final high level of work in groups and deep experiences that will be revealed in subsequent tomes. Through a foundation emphasizing solid connection to body, knowledge of preference & interest, expressive development, and active engagement in co-consent container creation we build real-world desire satisfaction scenarios from a place of practiced clarity, articulation, and strength.

Why the Workbook Format ?

We all agree that consent is important, and our shared public consciousness is gaining clarity about what is non/consensual (thank heavens!). Unfortunately, as is the case with initial criticism before solutionary analysis, these previous threads address what is going wrong with the system while being less then forthcoming about active steps in how to create a consent culture to make it right.

I thank the current and past consent pioneers and whistleblowers for blazing the trail so far. In this book, I am interested in evolving from an intellectual abstract understanding of consent (rooted in a legal framework of who or what is to blame) into an embodied encoding of empathetic engagement. I am filling the ‘training gap’ of a lack of practice in consent and related skillsets through low-stress preparation in-vivo before we need it. Through my own experience of violation, I feel a responsibility to provide others with the tools to prevent predators from preying on innocence and naivete. When we strengthen our consent and related foundational skills such as: knowing what you don’t/want and dis/like, developing self-knowledge, knowing where your boundaries, and speaking with clarity about them others, I have found that the shadows of uncertainty for predators to lurk in shrink and disappear. All this while being able to be mutually motivated by shared desire.

It is to this aim that I aggregated impactful techniques that accelerated my development, designing my own when there was not an exercise that stressed the growth of a skill I found essential to my journey practicing consent or boundary regulation.

In the following pages, find the guide I wish I would have had inside. May all interactions be enthusiastically consented to.


Why bother spending so much time on Body – what are the benefits ?

Unconscious speaks through Body through intuitive / physical communication channels. Unconscious has access to the full range of sensory input before the reducing valve of Mind filters and brings to the forefront the stimuli it deems most relevant for organismic survival. Throughout the human evolutionary process the ‘summarizing’ faculty of Mind grew more stringent over time, selecting for ‘speed as survival’ and propagating this process over many gene-itrations (= gene + iteration + generation).

In this lusciously luxurious moment in humanity’s evolution we have met our survival needs and recognize ripe timing in reaping the value of exponential knowledge increase –  developing our emotional intelligence and intuitive sense through accessing more Unconscious as it speaks through Body. Tapping into Unconscious through Body allows us to easefully make choices we can trust – starting from a place of grounded wholeness with can allow the hyper-processing analytical knowledge of Mind to scaffold us toward greater heights of inter/personal creation. In addition to aiding us in decision making we can utilize Body as portal to effortlessly enter flow states. Much as many meditation traditions use breath as a reminder to return to centered stillness, we create physical sigils that encode the access of flow states through a series of poses and bodysenses. When we are reliably able to train our system to drop into flow  we reconnect with our capacity to enjoyably and efficiently accomplish our goals in a spirit of exploratory play through a match of capability and captivating challenge. This space of open competency is at the heart of the Razma Movement Method practice (especially when engaging in partnered play).

Our sacred task of Spirit dancing in matter is to expand our capacity for awareness so that we may understand ourselves (and therefore by proxy, others) more fully. When we reconnect to our bodies we can repeatedly open to greater nuance in sensory stimuli – this inner inquiry increases available bandwidth of sensory/emotional/subconscious experience and expands our physical play palate. In this deepening we access increasingly profound levels of connection/understanding to self/other and in so doing exponentially multiply the forms of love that we can give and receive.

Finally, trauma is often ‘frozen’ in Body when too overwhelming to process in the moment of a fight/flight/fawn/freeze/appease/attach survival state. Frozen trauma requires physical, mental, and psychic energy to padlock and patrol (we can see how reactive these psychological ‘trauma antibodies’ through the high level of reactivity that occurs when we touch upon a trigger). When we let go of old trauma patterning that does not serve our current state we no longer need to use resources to maintain and guard this bound energy. This unfrozen energy is liberated for use in service of constructive pursuits (such as expanding the bandwidth of sensation and being present to a greater depth of feelings).

How we got here – why are we so disembodied ?

There is a strong thread of disconnection from Body running through the dominant culture of the US (*author grew up as a Lithuanian American in the USA and so writes from this ‘born into’ perspective). This rift between Body, Mind, and Spirit arises from a confluence of factors including inheriting a history of religious rules (especially from the judgmental modern Puritanical and Catholic strains), an emphasis on intellectuality, and an idea that what is below us is beneath us. Some of the most commonly held tropes from these oppressive hisstories (= hiss + history; also his-story) are: body is base, body is lowly, body is source of sin, body is to be transcended, and body is inherently impure from birth.

Many US socialized people have an internalized notion of body as base. This goes hand in hand with the attribution of body as the source of shameful, sinful impulses that need to be transcended. Many around the world have received an oppressive dose of religious judgement for enjoying physical sensations (*‘catholic guilt’ for this author) – perceiving such pursuits as damming, hedonistically indulgent, or a waste of time. This subtext of ‘transcending beyond Body’ and its insipidly impish impulses blasphemies Body as anchor to that which we abhor, chaining us to the corporeal and physically preventing sublimation with spiritual Source in the ‘higher’ holy realms. In this book we dispel this notion, celebrating embodied arts as another delicious direction to diving into divinity.

Devastating Disconnection

The devaluation and denigration of the physical also perniciously translates into acceptance of mainstream mistreatment of animals (as below us on the consciousness spectrum), planet (Mother Earth) and female-bodied people (as portals into physicality). Through this demonishing (= demonic + diminish + admonish) distancing of ourselves as in a level above the other species with which we share a common home we can justify our continued abuse of animals as meaningless material to kill and consume without honor at our current unsustainable rate. Unsurprisingly this cold cruelty also contributes to the degradation of our globe due to the resource greed required to house, feed, tend, kill and process animals as food.[1] This monetization mindset also results in short-sighted extractive economics and harmful harvest of resources (e.g. logging old growth, burning jungle to plant fields of a single cash crop, metals strip-mined, fracking, non-renewable sources of energy used for power).

We are shedding the old paradigm of considering the land, plants, and animals that live upon it as our God-given servants solely created for unlimited harvest. We are reframing into responsible relationship, spurred into a stewardship model – shifting towards sustainability, mutual respect, and reciprocity in all our relations. When we realign into nurturing our instrument of action in the world – our personal Body – we can then extrapolate this honorable treatment towards the bodies of others and our shared planetary body Earth, applying the Golden Rule (‘treat others how you wish to be treated’). In this way we expand our sense of self to not just include our physical body and personal vessel, but come to see other people, and eventually the planet as part of ourselves. Within this expansive empathetic awareness, we gain access to not only the patterns recorded in the repository of relationship between parts but also the holistic wisdom of of the whole.

Access to Female Bodies

In US culture female-bodied people are culturally socialized to be self-sacrificing and demure, subservient to the needs of others – forfeiting their bodies to the desires of males. The internalized oppression of the feminine makes access to women’s bodies abundant to males and dims the considerable power that could come of women banding together. Relatedly, women are cast as the only gateway to socially sanctioned connection to the physical, earthly, and emotional (base aspects of the world to be transcended) – simultaneously reviled, feared and desperately sought as channels for loving nurturing energy.


Our current socio-political system focuses on rewarding certain types of labor, or work, while minimizing (and therefore rendering invisible and devaluing) the essential contributions of other forms. In a particularly poignantly sad irony the labor of labor and it’s related processes are neither supported not acknowledged as important and essential. We can reverse this trend by demonstrating our high valuation of pregnancy and postpartum bonding through paid time off work, un-shamed breastfeeding, supports fo single mothers, and widely available state subsidized childcare. The caretaking, teaching, and rearing of infants, children and young adults – perhaps the most important job in ensuring humanity’s future success and capacity for prosocial behavior – continues to be unpaid or garners a low wage. Caretaking and nurturing work of all forms follows a similar pattern of meager salaries and more commonly is an expected duty to be completed without remuneration by females.

Emotional Labor

Women are the kinkeepers and the weavers of the connective web between people, and maintaining this state of interdependence takes a large amount of emotional labor (remembering birthdays and special events, making plans, coordinating family schedules…)  and emotional intelligence (how to navigate and mediate tangled social scenarios, knowing how certain people express specific emotions, reading micro movements of the face and body & accurately determining emotional state). The labor of connection-creation is compounded with noticing the effect that women have on others and being socialized to do what needs to be done, taking self-responsibility to fill in the gaps in consciousness of other inattention (these and similar tasks fall under the umbrella term ‘Emotional Labor’). Other characteristics of female socialization include putting the needs of others before oneself, making oneself as small as possible (ideally to the point of invisibility), attuning so deeply to how one affects others that they alter their behavior dramatically (discouraged to behave in a self-interested way).[2] Taking these traits on and internalizing them is commonly recognized as appropriate female gendered behavior.[3]

Collective / Individualistic behavior – Who is supported in their self-interest?

In our current society boundaries have proven themselves useful for long-term survival (knowing where Body ends helps propagate the genes that spread themselves through the action of Body). Relatively, Western personal boundaries are especially rigid and self-focused when compared with other cultures that are more attuned to the collective (for example Eastern nations such as Japan and China). Western individual-focused mindset also extends to the sense of responsibility we feel for other’s situations, and why we espouse ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’. Alas, when we consider that females in our culture are socialized to be self-sacrificing for others, this system of individual responsibility only authentically serves those who are supported in expressing and pursuing their self-interest in – men. Alternatively, when we consider a world in which everyone acts solely out of self-interest we are met with the emotional moonscape of a cold and calculating society. When we consider some of the deepest delights of this world they are born from interrelation: the giving and receiving of gifts, nurturing, and caretaking. Would we live in a more loving community-supportive culture if we were to care for our neighbors as ourselves? In this reframe we can also include the earth as our mother, treating her with respect, reverence, love, and gratitude. Through expanding our frame of what constitutes ‘our self’ we can expand our attention to encompass ever expanding swaths of our experience, moving from a focus personhood, to family, community, biosphere, and universe.

Gendered Putdowns

To easily find out what behaviors are traditionally masculine or feminine one can act as cultural archeologist and examine the disses and slurs that in most cases are directed at a certain gender. For men it is putdowns associate with feeling too much – such as ‘sissy’ or ‘pussy’. For women it is terms associated with asking for what one wants such as ‘bossy’, ‘pushy’, or ‘b*tchy. In these damaging insults we recognize the encultured pattern of women expected not to ask for what they want and sacrificing their needs to the desires of others. We recall the recurrence of men encouraged to distance themselves from their feelings, the feelings of others, and how they might be impacting the world around them. These cultural tropes end up confining the expression of all, distorting relationships  between folks of different genders (and especially for those that feel as though they don’t fit into any gender box) and distancing individuals from their inner selves. These restrictions on appropriate forms of expression according to gender maim what could be authentic unburdened communication and limit the potential diversity of contact.

Body as Unsafe Space of Pain

Within our current social rearing environment, most people have had a moment where Body was a source of shame and/or pain –usually first at a young age, and often increasing in frequency over time. Due to this early impression most have internalized the notion that Body is not a safe place for them to be (because when they are within it, they have been hurt, made to feel violated, or been embarrassed by some aspect of Body’s functioning – especially when out of their conscious control like bedwetting). Some people are in frequent or constant physical pain in Body. Many judge, critique, and compare Body with those of others and feel that they don’t measure up. Advertising reinforces this notion of lack – that you are incomplete or inferior in some way, but that a sold product or service will correct that deficiency. Even if not blatantly negative or critical advertising still typically implies that you could be better and that you are not enough as you are in your current state.

Numbing is Non-selective

For an unfortunately majority of people Body has been a place of judgement, pain, and trauma. To make this hurt manageable our psyche numbs this trauma, ranging from dulling emotion through complete dissociation from the place of these negative experiences –Body itself. Unfortunately, we cannot selectively numb only the negative, so this process puts a damper on all sensations and emotions. This coupled with the commonly heard put downs of childhood such as ‘you’re too sensitive’ and ‘toughen up’ and we have a culture-wide recipe for disconnection from our internal sense-scape of feeling and inner perception.

Compounding this with Body’s coping mechanism of freezing overwhelming trauma and locking it within specific locales within and we begin to understand that Body is for many an abandoned minefield. The bound and buried energy locked up in distancing and avoiding these wounds amounts to a large reserve of potential we can direct to constructive purposes through thawing and releasing the trauma with trusted confidants in safe space. Through kind embodied practices such as SomaSenZ, we create a relationship of deep compassionate listening on both verbal and physical levels. Through spaciousness of time in empathetic touch we can rewire the neural circuits from numb fear into release and relief, promoting relaxation, rejuvenation and opening Body into greater sensation (magnifying our possibility to perceive, feel deeply, and potentiate our power in decision making).

Boundaries Philosophy

Children and Boundaries

We are often implicitly taught that our bodies are not sovereign to us at a young age – such as when parents tell their children to hug someone or give them a kiss. Often this person is either a trusted friend or relative of the parent/child, however, the child may have good reasons for not wanting to engage physically with someone else at that time. Even though these actions are well meaning they proclaim the message that the child’s body is ultimately not their own, and is subject to the desires of others regardless of what the child wants. This early experience of consent being overridden creates an unhealthy sense that those in power are allowed to override personal boundaries – leading to unconsciously laying down the path accepting of traumatic scenarios that are in truth unacceptable consent violations.


Often, some of our boundaries are ingrained in an unconscious way – through well-meaning adults decreeing specific rules about our bodies (such as telling us that ‘no-one gets to touch us in our bathing-suit area except parents and doctors’). Although the intention of these types of absolute physical boundaries is well-intentioned (often to keep us safe from predation or injury), we may not be addressing the roots of how to more directly address issues of wellbeing. If children are taught in age-appropriate ways about consent and that they are the sovereign masters of their own bodies this greatly reduces the likelihood that they will be able to be preyed upon. When children have strong consent skills they are no longer acquiescing to what they perceive to be societal or relational norms but instead can tune into their own personal truth in the moment regarding contact with others and if it feels appropriate.

Our society has room for improvement in the realm of teaching healthy boundaries and the consent that goes along with respecting the boundaries of others. Instead of blindly repeating decrees from the adult fiefdom without explaining the reason for them we can teach children the tools to know their boundaries, how to internally monitor how they may shift in difference situations, and practice confidence to vocally express needs clearly. Through this subtle shift in explaining and empowering through teaching skills that apply in any circumstance (rather than a narrow rigid rule) we set young ones up for a lifetime of vibrant communication and easeful expressive interrelation. This abilities-based approach also removes shame from Body, instead focusing on tracking internal experience and honoring personal needs.

Philosophical Analysis – From Whence Do Boundaries Come?

At this juncture, parsing out where boundaries come from will help us to explore how to adjust boundaries that have already been created. We are born boundaryless and only learn the concept of self as distinct from mother over time (or so goes the current party line in developmental psychology). In this model a newborn initially starts out as a blank slate (perhaps with slight dispositions) – fully open and receptive to experience (you can see this radical openness in newborns and infants). This rosy innocence also means that infants are inherently unguarded to the effects of others on their experience. Over time this openness is protectively shut down as the psyche is damaged through encounters with junctures in which the world does not perfectly care for their needs (exacerbated by the deeper cuts of being catcalled, taunted, put down, viewing a certain piece of media…). At these assaults the psyche shouts “I don’t want this to happen to me (again)” and a deflecting buffer boundary is created to keep others from getting close enough to that sore, sensitive wound to inflict pain upon it again. A boundary is akin to a guard, taking up psychic or mental energy to be watchful for any potentially dangerous approaches. In this way, boundaries usually exist because they have been crossed in the past, resulting in registering a violation in the psyche and seeing up a ‘safe zone’ to cushion the blister from future irritation.

How Trauma affects the body

Although trauma can affect people in a diversity of ways, through my experience as a bodyworker I have found, as a coping mechanism, that most people freeze trauma inside Body. For example, someone who has experienced a sexual violation may have very stiff hips that are closed off to full range of motion. When receiving a massage in this area (such as the outside edge of the hip or the glutes) the receiver on the mat may tense up protectively, or have memories float to the surface, or even cry without knowing why. One theory as to why trauma is frozen in Body is that ‘in the moment’ of acute trauma the body/brain cannot handle or process the intensity of stimulus, and instead of allowing resources to flow to the emotional evaluation centers, BodyMind prioritizes action that ensures the survival of the organism – ensuring resource is directed towards responding directly to physical preservation in the face of a threat (packing away the trauma for a time of greater resources able to process the event).

Compounding the difficulty of unlocking frozen trauma inside the body is the tendency of some to dissociate and ‘remove’ themselves from their physical experience (such as through ‘watching from the ceiling’) when overwhelmed. I have a personal tendency to dissociate when I experience trauma, especially when it occurs to Body. At the moment of penetration when I lost my virginity to rape the violation displaced my consciousness from Body and I watched the proceedings from above. When the perpetrator plunged into me he made Body a place of shock and fear, pushing my sensing spirit out. My second strongest memory of dissociation occurred at another time of great physical shock when I tore my ACL after falling down a ladder while being attacked by bees.

Learning from animals -how do fauna handle trauma?

Seeing as we are animals ourselves, observing the rest of the animal kingdom and how it handles trauma can work in service to broadening our understanding – providing potential models for clues as to how we can release trauma. For example, when one of a pack of deer is killed, after the rest have found a safe space away from the predator, they shake to remove the remnants of the trauma of being pursued from their nervous system. If you have house cats or dogs and they are reprimanded, you will often see them ‘shake it off’ with head motions. We operate in a social milieu in which the benefits of shaking to dislodge trauma neither widely known as a beneficial practice, much less is socially encouraged, acceptable, or even condoned.


All people have experienced the activation of their sympathetic nervous system in Fight or Flight mode (such as the impetus of an unexpected sound in the darkness) – startled, adrenaline racing, heart pumping, pinpricks of hair standing on end, and muscles activated and ready to move. However, far from only the reactions of Fight or Flight, there is a whole range of response commonly seen in the animal kingdom, including freezing, fawning, appraising, submitting, and attaching.

This expanded ladder of trauma indicates that there are additional behaviors that are traumatic to the animal body that we are not acknowledging in the human species. Fascinatingly enough, the masculine retorts of physical fight or flight are widely acknowledged as trauma reactions, whereas the feminine feedback of freezing, fawning, appraising, submitting, and attaching are not traditionally included or even acknowledged as trauma responses. When we expand our understanding of trauma to encompass these more feminine forms of reacting to a trauma response, we tune into the more subtle and social responses to trauma that have been previously overlooked.

Contexts for Touching

Compared to other cultures *cite touching*, we do not engage in much platonic touch. This is due to the overarching environment in western culture that culturally acceptable platonic touch is reserved for specific relationships – babies, young children and their parents, lovers, close friends, and massage therapists / healers. Although platonic touch is generally culturally acceptable for these groups oftentimes many do not engage in platonic touch frequently because there is an additional narrowing of the acceptable range of circumstances– such as death, diaper changing, or within the bounds of a paid massage session. Overall, most touching we witness occurs between those who are in a monogamous sexually intimate partnership. The types of touch seen most frequently is directly regulated by the cultural politics of what is deemed appropriate in public – as the most current policing about breastfeeding demonstrates (as though the act of feeding a child is somehow obscene and needing to occur behind closed doors in private).

Why has touch become suspect?

With good intentions but negative unforeseen outcomes we have tried to protect vulnerable populations (such as the young) from manipulative or exploitative touch by making nearly all touch with them suspect. A common example of this is an adult making a big deal of children wrestling or enjoying their bodies (such as in self-pleasuring) which instills shame in the children who had pure exploratory intentions. Instead of shaming we can clearly explain why certain behaviors are not appropriate in public rather than shadowing behaviors through judging them. The holes that are evident in our past methodology – attempting to limit touch – show their clear downside when a perverted predator ‘grooms’ a child or gets a child alone without the protective scrutinizing gaze of society.

Our rigid cultural gender norms also come into play here – women are expected to instinctively coo and care for every child that crosses their path, whereas most male touch of children is not encouraged (thankfully this norm also seems to be slowly changing). This policing and unequal distribution has negative consequences for all concerned – further touch isolating men, removing possibilities for men to express non-sexual physical nurturance, and additionally constricting circumstances in which men can model safe loving nurturing touch to younger people sans sexuality.

Due to the cultural milieu of physical contact tending to signify a strong (often exclusive) connection, public displays of touch are highly monitored and attract a lot of ‘attention’ from scrutinizing witnesses analyzing the meaning of the link. Due to the dearth of alternative models or contexts for touch the default interpretation is that any touch between peers is often assumed as sexual interest (or at least the potential of such). Due to this insipid assumption, there are often socially implied or unstated (shadow/subliminal) intentions behind touch. The current cultural overtone of relentless goal pursuit extends into the social practice of the sexual treadmill (meaning the implied escalation of physical intimacy towards the ultimate ‘home-run’ goal of copulation).

Instead of preventatively teaching listening skills and vocal/expressive boundary management, to protect ‘vulnerable’ populations we insipidly imply that nearly all touch is suspect because it often can indicate a desire to escalate along the ‘sexual treadmill’ (with the ultimate goal held as the ‘home run score’ of Penis-In-Vagina (PIV) intercourse). I believe that in large part touch has become suspect due to its rarity. This rarity imbues touch exchanges with a highly charged aura of attention, suffused in a scarcity mindset of ‘get what you can when you can’ of pursuing limited, rapidly expiring chances of opportunity. What would shifting from a model of expiring to inspiring intimacy feel like?

Teaching healthy boundary management

Unspoken beliefs (such as ‘touch is only appropriate within a monogamous sexual relationship’) and the lack of models for clear conversation around contact constrain the situations in which people are socially supported in engaging in touch and speaking about their preferences.

Rather than nixing all touch as potentially suspect, a strong solution that addresses the root of this issue is teaching children (and indeed all people) self-confidence in expressing clear boundary management. This would include lessons on : how to know where boundaries are, what forms healthy boundary dialogue can take, how to know if someone is respecting your boundaries, self-confidence in communicating (vocally and physically) when a play partner is approaching a boundary, and how to direct partners to actions would make you feel more comfortable. Through this pre-emptive methodology we return the onus of the matter to a proactive place – teaching relational skills that allow each individual to determine what is appropriate for them in the moment rather than relying on antiquated proscriptions (which inherently can never cover every single persnickety nuance of every single situation).

Additionally, through increasing self-confidence in clear easeful expression we diversify the routes to preserving our wellbeing rather than being solely reliant on our play partner’s perceptiveness to checking in. Certainly, in an ideal frame, our play partners would be well educated in tracking their playmates and checking in, but in case they are acting in a selfish or ignorant manner (or merely claiming such) – confident self-expression and practiced gumption to stick up for yourself acts as another self-defense safety net. Therefore, through developing skills that allow us to assuredly impart our inner experience we expand our ability to safeguard ourselves through championing communication (with the necessary caveat / integral flipside skill set development that the others are listening on multiple channels).


Invitation without Expectation / De-coupling Touch from Assumption of Sexuality

I am striving to decouple the assumption of touch as inherently indicating sexual interest, as it limits our range of expression through the meme of ‘invitation without expectation’. This shorthand contains within it the understanding that the invitation or gift of touch does not have within it expectation of reciprocation of a specific form. This type of transparent experience of giving the possibility of a sensation or experience works well for platonic touch exchanges in a low risk environment. If you do have specific intentions behind your touch the honest thing to do is to share your desires to make sure your partner can provide informed consent in alignment with your aims.

‘Invitation without expectation’ also implies that just because something was vocalized does not mean it needs to be acted on or immediately acquiesced to. Indeed, it is courteous, considering, and in alignment with constructive consent practices to allow your partner ample time to respond so that they are able to tune into their truth without time pressure.

Preparative Narrative

If you find that your play partner returns salivating at your open-handed offer eager to engage (and even pleading for it) you can be sure that they are a ‘sure bet without regret’ as they have had sufficient processing time to foresee any sticky places that may have come up for them pre-emptively and address them. This method can be dovetailed with ‘describing what you will do in detail before you do it’ (as if you are pretending you are narrating a steamy pulp erotic novel) with the entrancing and enhancing effect of ‘boiling the water’ of arousal through imaginal fantasy time. This verbal foreplay can both allow you a safe ‘dry run’ to see what your partner is interested in (HINT – make special note of the moments in your tantalizing tale telling when: they blush, their eyes widen, their finger go to their mouth, their breathing changes, when they give a sly smile, when they let out a laugh, or when they look up as you through their lashes).

You can even adjust your tactics with the knowledge that those acculturated as female tend to take in their erotica through reading (stimulated by descriptive detail, opting for the story spell spinning – allowing them to ‘feel through fantasy’) and those raised as male tend to prefer to watch erotica (visually stimulated, opting for acting out what you would do to them on yourself or showing what you want them to do to you). This sensual storytelling – what I call – the ‘preparative narrative’ / ‘showtime mime’ – lets your partner in on your fantasy forecast for the future in a languid luscious lengthening of the luxurious liminal space between offer and action – lubricating the situation so that all parties are prepped and panting for the physical culmination of the delicious description / pantomime. This preparative narrative is a legendary litmus test in which gauging interest also doubles as an arousal builder of Pre-MOAN-itional pleasure potentiation.

Making your play partners beg for your previously made offers is a fun flirty way to build erotic tension while engaging strong cosent practices.  ****

Dangers of Implicit Intention behind touch

A trope frequently encountered within the theme of ‘touch with strings attached’ occurs when one person offers a massage to another to whom they are sexually attracted to and at the end of the session the unstated ‘expectations’ of the ‘gift’ become clear when the giver excepts reciprocation in kind or moves toward escalating touch towards sexual intimacy. This example is not shared to demonize massage trades, but to elucidate the importance of clarity in intention behind touch so that all can enthusiastically participate with fully informed consent.

When the intention behind touch is not made explicit, unconscious fears and assumptions create uncertainty and can allow manipulators the space to blame lack of specificity or speed for a victim’s violation. This smokescreen allows the perpetrator to distract and disguise themselves under the cover of ignorance rather than speak the damming truth – confessing their disinterest or lack of effort in identifying whether their prey was enthusiastically consenting to the acts in question. Thus, the accused can blame the situational context and lack of understanding for the gap that allows them to fulfil their selfish desires without consideration for the victim’s satisfaction or clarity. When the impetus behind the touch becomes explicit and the onus is on constant consent excusing nonconsensual behavior with “I didn’t know what they meant” or “it all happened so fast” will soon become a thing of the past.

Solving this pernicious problem involves encouraging communication frequency, clarity, and breadth. This can be done through encouraging constant check-ins (including verbal and physical communication), increasing the vocabulary and specificity of terms, and dilating receptivity / increasing attunement to encompass greater information density. The responsibility lies with all parties engaged in the touch – the giver to check in, monitor communication channels, and acutely calibrate / adjust and the receiver to express their inner experience with depth, clarity, and timeliness. When in doubt, speak it out.


You don’t have to be a mind-reader, but your lover will think you are

If this concept feels overwhelming (constant check-ins ?!?) know that it is a skill set that can be learned and practiced like any other. Although ‘constant check ins’ seems like a high bar, this phrase is used to emphasize the constant collaborative nature of co-creating a consensual cosent space. Later practice sections will introduce tools and techniques to create space for communication such as pausing the action momentarily (employing a ‘Prolonged Pause’) and the use of an arousal building tool called a ‘Preparative Narrative’.  Constant check in is a practiced skill that becomes effortlessly ingrained over time and is another way of describing the attunement that grows from the desire to care for another being.

In order to visualize yourself in a ‘constant check-in’ attunement state, you can observe or contemplate the behaviors of those who have needed to cultivate this skill to succeed at their employment. Common examples of those who have developed a ‘constant check in’ skill set include: accomplished therapists, bodyworkers, empaths, parents with infants, animal whisperers, and renowned lovers (either historical or personal).

Benefits to honing attunement skill sets include: people thinking that you can read their mind, understanding someone’s unspoken motivations, knowing when people are telling you the truth, increased understanding of babies / children / pets, being an unforgettable lover.


When Over-communication becomes under-communication

One may think of this change as a shift in the current status quo towards a penchant for over-communication. What is currently considered ‘over-communication’ may indeed in the future be seen as laconic and lacking in both nuance / frequency (especially when as we collectively reach the point at which we can mind-meld and communicate through consciousness itself ;D ).

Through expanding depth of dialogue, we increase our chances to practice the skill of attunement and in so doing gain the additive benefits of raising the general communication skill level of all involved. Communication skills serve us especially well when we are interacting with those whom we have not yet established historical rapport / patterns, interacting with those who challenge us, and when engaging in activities in a small or compressed time frame (high speed/pace).

Everyone needs touch

All humans need touch to thrive. Babies even need touch to survive! An orphanage**touching cite* was befuddled when their infants who were otherwise taken care of (food, shelter, warmth, etc.) ‘failed to thrive’ and were dying. Once the babies received physical affection each day the trend reversed and all the infants lived. Engaging in platonic touch releases endorphins and oxytocin (the bonding, love hormone) into the body, increasing feelings of well-being and connection. These compounds decrease stress allowing the immune system to operate at highest efficacy.

Today many people are touch-starved including most males and vulnerable populations such as the elderly and infirm. It is my personal belief that many ‘crimes of passion’, rapes, and violence against women (and even all people) are due to an unfortunate majority of males being touch-starved. *cite ** Men who travel on business hire prostitutes just to touch them lovingly.  The shadow of a touch-starved and touch-judgmental culture is dark, depressive, and deprives us of the potential of bountiful daily connections.

Now future : Safe Loving touch as human right

I propose that we decree safe loving touch as a human right. Touch is an essential nutrient for growth, development, and the very continuation of life itself. The fact that newborns die without touch came to light when babies in an orphanage who were being well taken care of in every way except receiving touch were perishing from the lack of human contact. **cite touching Ashley montague

With safe loving touch recognized as a renewable resource and right for all we can multiply love and conscientiousness and regenerate our world – finding peace through pleasure. In casting off patterns of extractive and self-sacrificing touch (touching to get yourself off/elicit a reaction; losing sense of self agency in desire to please) we can instead refocus on reciprocation. We give each other this renewing gift of somatic synergy where we are able to dance with the balance of giving / receiving – finding the point of melding where we can give in receiving and receive in giving.

Your body is a gift – to be enjoyed by the bearer

Pleasure is our bodily birthright. We are born sensate, sensitive, and wide open – but over time we close down, protectively veiling ourselves behind shells and masks due to the psychological blows of not being seen, met, or supported as we are. We are taught that sensitivity is weakness, to ‘toughen up’ to the harshness of ‘real’ life and so we guardedly shut down in self-preservation. Body is the sole physical thing that you can truly possess, and the ultimate playground of your sovereignty. Body is yours to share with those whom you choose in the way that you choose. Self-inquiry through experimentation allows you to track your inner experience, identify with precision what you do/not enjoy, and have a clear knowledge your boundaries. A strong sense of body sovereignty cultivates confidence in your right to say no at any time for any reason, regardless of the past.

Touch Abundance

In sharing the Razma Movement Method and my SomaSenZ sensation style, I am formalizing the study of soma-tech (= somatic technology) to usher in a lived new cultural story of feeling safe loving touch as abundant. I have found that when the need for nurturing touch is not met a ‘lack’ energy of seeking creates a vacuum and the starving neediness of empty places suckling for sustenance dominates. Alternatively, in the culture of ‘platonic touch activism’ I am promoting partners can come to their intimate relationships as resourced wellsprings of sharing energy in a more reciprocal respiratory flow of pre-balanced and harmonized symbiosis. Within this abundance model even ‘red blooded’ highly sexual people can meld desire and plenty as overflowing vessels of passion flowing freely into each other.

A helpful metaphor characterizing these two modes of being is the distinction between someone who is parched and is protectively rationing their only canteen of water and another who has just visited a nearby spring and is eager to share not only their liquid but also the location of the source.

Re-conceptualizing Touch – Touch activism

My purpose as a touch activist is to re-normalize platonic touch as a pathway to intimate connection and wellness. Touch activism bridges the realms of dance, bodywork, massage, deep platonic connection, physical communication, and consent.

My personal passions as a touch activist include : non-verbal communication, dance-floor consent, creating body-supportive spaces, translating the physical embodied realm of dance & bodywork into evocative / explanatory language, and developing new bodywork tools, techniques & styles (and engaging in bodywork { everywhere } ). As an educator I seek to make safe and consensual platonic touch supported in all spaces and expand our physical language to increase the range of ways that we can touch each other to mutual satisfaction, delight amd sillybration (silly + celebration).


Consent Workbook


Level 1 – Connecting To Self-Body

Self-Knowledge Examination and Cultivation

  • Boundaries

Boundary Flavors

There are three main types of boundaries : hard, soft, and conditional boundaries. Each term denotes the flexibility of the boundary based on context and comfort. Boundaries (aka limits) are discussed during an initial exploratory and conversation (*referred to in BDSM as a negotiation) with all participating playmates. I will be using the parlance of BDSM to clarifty fine distinctions conveyed in terminology. Due to BDSM’s inherently edge-exploring nature, BDSM culture has developed a nuanced vocabulary around boundraries and consent our of necessity for fine and clear distinctions.

Hard boundaries are never to be crossed and a respectful distance should be kept from even approaching them out of courtesy (eg. if the hard boundary is no penetration, not hovering your hand at the entrance to their intimate openings as if ‘testing the waters’). Adopting the parlance of kink, I will use the terms ‘bottom’ as receiver of sensation and ‘top’ as giver of sensation.

Soft boundaries are “things that the bottom has indicated that under normal circumstances they do not wish to do, however, under certain specifically negotiated circumstances these types of play m        ay be permitted provided they are approached delicately by the top”. (eg. no spanking unless I stick my bum out and beg you, you ask me, and we start with light nail strokes and caresses to warm up the area) *terminology – thuddy, stingy, top, bottom, dom, sub

Conditional boundaries are boundaries that need a certain criterion to be met before they are approached (eg. verbally ask me before touching me below the waist).

A useful metric to determine if you can initially trust someone is if they respect your boundaries. Boundaries may change or relax when trust between partners builds or a partner becomes more adventurous. Gently pushing (probing) boundaries – when done by a comforting, compassionate partner with great care – can be a beautiful way to enrich and evolve a relationship. *trust

How do you know what your boundaries are?

If you are new to exploring your physical expression you may not have a detailed crystalized understanding about what your boundaries are. I recommend exploring a ‘sensation buffet’ with a trusted facilitator who is willing to start slow and escalate the sensation and allow you to tune into your body’s inner experience. Turning into the guide inside and tracking your inner sensations, attractions, and repulsions will provide a sensation scaffolding to map and build details into. The more knowledge you have about what you desire, the more enhanced the detail you can communicate your needs to others which increases the likelihood of being satisfyingly met.

Physically, you can tell If someone you are playing with is approaching a boundary when you start to feel uncomfortably nervous – wanting to move away and have them leave you alone. You may freeze or shut down because as your bodily boundary is being encroached upon, it is no longer a safe place to be feeling inside of. You may begin to feel an activated adrenaline response of fight or flight and become jittery or ‘on edge’.

Partner-Present Boundary Probing : Realizing in Relationship

If you feel these physical communications from your Guinsde (guide + inside : pronunciation evocative of go or goo -Inside) in a SomasenS session explore the edges of the boundary to clearly realize it’s nature. If you didn’t previously realize a boundary was present in that area, stick with the sensation and follow it to the root to pinpoint its cause of feeling / what feelings are feeding it. Treat yourself gently as this is a probing personalize learning experience! Signal to your partner to slow down by giving your ‘slow’ physical sign or saying ‘yellow, you’re approaching a boundary and I want to get clear on what it is – can you do what you were just doing in slow motion and explore the surrounding area while I get a clearer idea?’. If you can determine why this boundary exists and details of the context that erected it (eg. partner running sexual energy, unfamiliar partner, distracted partner, low energy, body state, soreness/injury, not feeling stretchy…) this will add to your self / situational awareness and aid in communication with other play partners in the future. When a boundary can be directly articulated (eg. don’t touch my face unless you hands are washed) confidence in vocalizing your needs in the moment increases and leads to deeper and more satisfactory play.

Sensation Buffet : Determining your Personal Yes/No/Maybe Lists

Although there is an abundance of yes/no/maybe lists to peruse to determine what you may be interested in, here is one specifically focusing on platonic touch play. Here are my favorites from a full sensation buffet journey I take exploratory playmates through when they are unsure of their preferences or wanting to explore new ways to interact. Variations are found in parentheses. I heartily encourage you to make your own and share your favorites at * / book website / blook (blog +book)

Feather pulled across skin (neck, face, side of ribcage)

Head scratched : with metal ‘spider’ scalp massager, brush, comb, short/long fingernails

Hair pulled (back of neck, full scalp, body hair)

Hair braided / cornrowed

Nails dragged across skin

Muscle/skin grabbed, pulled away from body (top of shoulders, biceps, thigh, stomach), shaking back and forth

Lung work : ribcage massages, hands feeling outline resting gently, tight squeeze of hug, chest sat on

Face touched (eyebrows, cheekbones, eye sockets, around mouth)

Percussive play : light tapping, spanking

Sound play : moaning, laughing, purring, belly rumbling (try placing the head in different places such as the thigh to stretch the neck, directly on the belly, on the heart)

Air play : fanned, incense, heat of fire (wax dripping candle play – just make sure it is not beeswax as it burns hot and blister skin).


Confounding Boundaries – Journal Prompts

Journal : What are your boundaries? Are they context dependent? What are the contextual factors that cause your boundaries to dramatically change (what makes you put down or raise up your boundaries or ‘make more space’ – increasing the width of the buffer around a hard line)? How have your boundaries evolved through time? What caused them to change? How did you learn what your boundaries were? What was it like before you had a boundary? What happened to cause you to make a boundary? Have your boundaries become more general or specific over time?

Were there any signs in your body/mind the moment before your boundary was crossed that were red flags? These are your personal intuitive signs – mark them well, for monitoring them enables you to check in with yourself regarding your inner state. The following exercise can help clarify your internal process and help you identify your personal signals.

Knowing internal Boundary Approach signals

Exercise : Two Lines – Approach & Body Monitoring

People pair up, and stand 10-15 feet away from each other in two lines. One side designated Approachers moves toward the still line embodying the intention expressed out loud by the facilitator (ex. Friendly, threatening, inquisitive, animalistic, lustful). The Still partner stands in place and in the process of being approached holds their hand up when they feel a reaction in their body. When the Still partner’s hand is up, the Approacher stops in place. Some examples of physical signals that someone is approaching your boundaries are : coldness in stomach, heat rising, discomfort, desire to back away, wanting to freeze, breath getting tight or shallow. When the Still partner feels the sensation dissipate they put down their hand and the Approacher continues toward the Still partner.

Discussion :

How close was your partner able to get? Did the distance change depending on the intention the approaching partner was holding?

Still partner : How do you check in with yourself to know when the sensation has dissipated ? What are your subtle signs? Does each sign increase in volume (does the feeling become more intense) or do you have a series of sensations that occur in an order that signals an increase in parasympathetic response?

Exercise : Deliberately boundary crossing

In this exercise, we deliberately cross boundaries to create data points for our inner personal response and practice expressing our ‘no’ both physically and out loud. Pair off and discuss your hard boundaries with your partner, sharing a flexible boundary, a conditional boundary, and a hard boundary. You partner’s role is to begin with one of the stated conditional boundaries and cross it without the condition being satisfied (a boundary violation). Experiment with rapid violations and moving slow and ‘sneakily’ violating and note the differences in physical reaction. Run through this boundary at least 3 times 1. ‘freezing’ with no reaction from the Receiver 2.  Receiver remains silent and only communicates with body language 3. Receiver allowed to vocalize ‘no’. Note the differences in body tension and discharge.

Next a flexible boundary is probed and pushed with the 3 variations, and repeated with the hard boundary.

As the Boundary Pusher approaches a boundary (such as touching the neck if the boundary is not to touch face) – notice physical sensations and instinctual actions that occur when a boundary is being approached (near, far), at the edge, and penetrated. Does the experience differ when allowed to respond?


How to know you can trust someone ?

A deep level of trust and easeful capability to judge trustworthiness can be reached in a relatively short time when the animal body is able to relax, the fear-seeking warning systems can power down, and the unconscious is free to speak and be heard through the body. An integral part of knowing if you can trust someone is being able to tune into your body’s own innate system for communicating the trustworthiness of another. The unconscious receives significantly more bits of information then what is filtered and presented to the conscious mind, and the unconscious speaks through the body, a relationship summarily encapsulated in the phrase ‘the body never lies’. To tap into the storehouse of stimuli you must know the personal language of your inner voice to receive detailed messages from your body about other people. This process is often called intuition, having a hunch, or listening to your gut. Each body’s language will have its own patterns and idiosyncrasies, and the ‘Two Lines – Approach & Body Monitoring’ exercise can help you begin to explore the subtle signs of your body’s language. The language of the body can sometime be slow and subtle and it is helpful to reduce the pace and allow space for the message to be fleshed out.

When you are deciding how much to trust another potential playmate notice how the person interacts with others – watch them play with others and attune to your body’s communication regarding what it is feeling. Ask the wider community about the potential playmate’s reputation – ask others within their friend group or social group if they would recommend you playing with them. Notice if the potential playmate remembers what you have told them – especially if they ‘forget’ anything (goes double for important issues such as boundaries). Train an eagle eye on whether they are proactive about your boundaries and if they check in or seek clarification in grey areas. Do you feel as though you have their full attention? Is the interaction a conversation with messages being communicated through both physical and verbal channels? Are the needs of both parties being met?

Fascinatingly enough, as crucial as trust is in creating intimacy and propelling society, we do not frequently blatantly discuss it, choosing to veil our statements in oblique language. One interesting example that comes to mind is the phrase that is uttered in a ‘game changing’ relationship – ‘I am breaking all my usual rules for you’. The subtext encoded in this phrase is you are reading my body language and communication so deeply that you are in tune with respecting the needs underneath the boundary I have created, I feel so safe with you that I can trust you with relaxed or lapsed rules.  This phrase demonstrates our indirect understanding that if the needs which created a boundary in the first place are listened to, this dissipates their need to exist as a protective mechanism. If you feel that you have a lot of tender boundaries initially, have hope – it is possible to unpack boundaries that no longer serve you in a loving relationship/partnership (such as therapy). However, engage with this relaxation at your own (slow) pace and do not feel pressure to change if you are being currently served by your boundaries.

  1. Finding your voice

Although it can be challenging for ‘shy’ or ‘quiet’ folks (author included) to be proactive and vocal about their desires it is especially important for us to both be advocates for our pleasure and to extend invitations/advances to those whom we fancy. If we do not step up into expressing ourselves, we continue to silently support the status quo of dominant / aggressive individuals being rewarded for their forwardness and persistence (never mind that their success relies solely on the taxing emotional labor of continuously rejecting another’s advances, until in the persistent wearing down of resource it becomes easier to say yes then continue to say no). Much like power, the people who deserves your attention are the ones honoring it – aware and appreciative of the responsibility of requesting your most precious resource –attention.

Exercise –  Warm up your throat – practice your yes/no/more/less/pause/refresh

In Phase One : begin by positioning yourself in a space where you fee free to express yourself sonically without judgement (somewhere you can be loud without being self-conscious). You may wish to begin in front of a mirror. Begin by gaining comfort in vocalizing each of the six main directives – no/yes/more/less/pause/refresh. Practice all the different ways, or flavors, you may choose to conveying the same message : pleasant, gracious, graceful, forceful, sharp, humorous… Note the types and flavors of expressions that you are least comfortable vocalizing and explore what causes this discomfort (potentially through journaling. Developing a wider vocabulary to convey these messages while diffusing the tension will provide nuance, aiding in self-awareness and detailed communication with playmates.

Phase Two : practice saying no/yes/more/less/pause/refresh to a friend with a distinct flavor of communication in mind and get feedback on the way that this flavor comes across.

Phase Three : Practice conveying no/yes/more/less/pause/refresh and adding additional context / intent in mind (eg. ‘yes, and I’d like to have a boundaries conversation before we escalate to any other activity like touching erogenous zones’, ‘less / what a compliment, I don’t feel like going that far just yet, let’s get to know each other another way’, ‘pause : let’s slow this down give me some time to check in and see what my body is telling me’). Get feedback on how you are perceived / how forceful that flavor and word choice comes across (likely it will garner a milder reaction then you expect).

Phase Four : repeat Phase Two and Three  with a stranger (or relative stranger / new friend)

Exercise : Own your Own pleasure in open expression

Here is your enthusiastic permission to make noise : be it juicy sexy noises, giggles, gurgles, gargles, guffaws, or gasps ! Begin simply by allowing yourself to breath heavily and notice your breath during your personal favorite pleasurable activities (you can start solo and build up to being witnessed if this is edgy for you). Begin with breathy moans, then start turning up the volume on your expression to test your pipes. ). Let the giggles and gushes multiply, mumbling and tumbling out from your belly, letting your jaw relax and soaking in the easy delight of ecstatic expression. Move on to letting your sounds out when working with a partner – such as while receiving a massage. Not only do your noises convey a wealth of information about specific types of touch to your play partner, but they are they often quite rewarding for your playmate and those within earshot!

Challenge : Expand the range of places, sense spaces, and activities you openly express in and work on incorporating vocalization and sound into your life as frequently as possible. Note which emotions and contexts you feel the most challenge expressing in. Don’t keep your inner world locked up inside – let your personal experience be known in sound. *cite: research shows that test subjects encouraged to vocalize and curse were able to withstand pain longer then those told to hold their tongue.


What does your yes / no sound and look like ? Does it change based on the situation ? What carries over into all situations – what are you preferred channels of communication?

New Vocabulary – SomaSenZ / SomaSenZi

In my journey I have found that a big part of building confidence in voice and self-expression has been learning and developing new terms to describe and share more nuanced shades of life experiences with others. Finding new terminology helps me feel as though I am not alone and I deeply appreciate the thought that has gone into the creation of expanding our shared language with new vocabulary. In some ways ‘something’ does not consciously exist in a meaningful way in the collective until it is named – at which point dialogue is possible through shared understanding.  I have found immense relief in finding words that help describe me or a way that I experience the world as a shorthand to communicate with other people and to know that I am not alone.

A term that I have created to help me conceptualize my own experience is SomaSenZ, and the related terms SomaSenZI, and SomaSenZitivity. SomaSenZ is a shorthand expression for the felt body sense in it’s totality : proprioception, body intelligence, and ability to communicate / read someone else through physical touch.

I was frequently labelled ‘sensitive’ growing up (mostly as a put down as used  in ‘stop being so sensitive and toughen up’), and through my explorations of self I have come to create the term ‘somatically sensitive’ to describe myself. My SomaSenZitivity led me to understand that I have higher then average SomaSenZ (somatic perception) which dovetails with my emotional intelligence (also described as emotional sensitivity). Certain other groups of people can also be thought of as ‘Somatically sensitive’ – colicky babies, those on the autism spectrum, those diagnosed with Asperger’s, obsessive compulsive disorder, and many others.

Am I SomaSenZI ?

You may be somatically sensitive if you find the following to be true in your life :

Your body speaks so loudly its signals cannot be ignored (similar to the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom taking over more and more of your brain as you continue to ignore it over time), you cannot suppress the communications of your body regardless of social norms of politeness. If you need to stretch, you will no matter the circumstance.

You cannot stay in one position for too long – you feel the need to move after a certain amount of time sitting. If we work on computers we have a setup that allows us to stand, move, bounce, or shift positions.

You can sense if someone is being fully attentive to you in their touch and if not your patience with letting them touch you wanes rapidly.

You have a high level of skin sensitivity – itchy tags are unbearable, certain types of fabric are irritating (such as only wearing predominantly natural fibers, and favoriting fine fabrics such as secondhand silk and cashmere)

Daily movement practices are crucial for our physical and mental well-being. Sleep is sacred to you and is a highly protected and valued activity.

You may think more clearly when in motion – going on ‘movement meetings’ through walks or hikes in person or on the phone.

You tend to seek out spaces where your body has the option of playing. You may have body tools such as a back cane, inflatables (yoga ball), yoga swing, or other body tools. You have a space in your home, outside, or a studio space where you are able to freely move.

Sometimes when hearing a body injury story you shudder or feel a shadow of the pain because you are able to somatically empathize with the felt sense. When you watch another person dance, or a duet or group dance together, you can deeply feel what that is like to move in that way with you body – your mirror neurons are very physically linked.

You are very conscious of spatial positioning – moving out of the flow of traffic on a busy sidewalk if you stop walking rather then standing in the middle of the stream.

You invest money in body technologies – including nutrition, massages, herbs, pure water.

You spend time educating yourself about nutrition and how to take care of your body.

You are sensitive to artificial scents and you avoid toxic perfumes, opting instead for unscented laundry detergent or essential oils.


Level III Communicating with Others Consensually

Beyond the Verbal – Types of Communication

Is non-verbal consent a solution to the consent crisis? A case for holding each other accountable for becoming fluent in body language.

Communication happens on many levels – verbal, physical, energetic, and within the web of situational context & cultural/group norms. Current consent education teaches that an affirmative verbal response is the gold standard and the only way to have ‘true consent’. Alas, the current hierarchy placing verbal consent as the only authentic form of consent minimizes those who prefer or are more fluent in physical communication. There are may people who spend much of their day in communication in non-verbal modes such as children, dancers, bodyworkers (not to mention animals and pets). Additionally, there are those who have not yet developed comfort in vocalizing their needs and desires or are within a power structure that minimizes their voice – eg. women, subordinates in the workplace, minorities, and young people.

Moreover, certain situational contexts can make the possibility of clearly communicating verbally impossible, such as in spaces where silence is commanded, or in loud places. Finally, there are many secondary benefits to cultivating and holding each other accountable for the skill of body language fluency – such as allowing us to consider whether the messages from our playmates are congruent and whether a verbal check in is needed to clarify details.

Power and Verbalization

On overlooked pernicious assumption that ‘all consent must be verbal’ invisibly transfers power to those who are comfortable communicating and bargaining. (Anchoring in marketing)

Currently there is a hierarchy of the verbal (at the command of cerebral world of symbols) above the realm of physical communication (connected to the body and with the subtext of being less advanced or specific). This sets up a pernicious power dynamic when considering a physically sensual encounter in which any of the participants have not developed personal strength of voice. This developing of personal voice is highly socially and culturally constructed, and in the US we have a pattern in which the voices of minorities, women, and those who do not currently hold power are silenced and marginalized rather than nurtured. Men taking up most of the talking space in conversation citation. Those in positions of power interrupting those who are less (hopefully we are seeing a change thanks to leaders saying ‘leaders speak last’ (simon sinek)*.

Historically muffled groups are then left with communicating more in the embodied, emotional realms, which places then squarely in the devalued and easily dismissed communication style group in our current patriarchal society. When the cultural pattern of submissively shouldering burdens and placing other’s need and pleasures before your own (even at your discomfort) has been internalized (eg. for female bodied people socialized along those lines), it follows that these behaviors continue in silence or freezing in physical interactions and most frequently end in personal and public judgement for the silent party, longstanding regret, and self-blame. To this end I developed this program to cultivate our Voices and share our Boundaries and Limitations.

Why has the verbal been placed above the non-verbal as the ‘only true way’ to establish consent?

The emphasis on the verbal as the only iron-clad form of ‘affirmative consent’ is likely due to the attempt at precise clarity that utilizing spoken communication reaches for. The emphasis on the verbal may even be due to our current culture’s litigious nature and obsession with holding people to their word (even if the situation changes). This ‘verbally binding’ overtone concerns me when conflated with consent, because a cardinal principal of consent is that you can change your mind at any time, and for any reason. The implication (however subtle) that because you have vocalized an agreement that you must follow through regardless of changing circumstances does not belong in Consent Culture.

Predatory ‘binding verbal agreements’

Currently in the mainstream the only way we are told we can get concrete consent is through ‘affirmative consent’ through verbal channels (it would be informative to look up the legal president for this **). There are several pernicious assumption that ‘consent can only be given verbally’ hides – the first being that someone may agree to something verbally but when their body is saying no, that does not give you the opportunity to say ‘well you agreed verbally’. In our current litigious society it is understandable that because speaking invokes a verbal agreement that enables ‘holding’ people to their word. However, this is a predatory mind set more interested in following the letter of the law to prevent getting in trouble then actually honoring the individual they are interacting with. This is a manipulative form of consent, because at the heart caring for the other person is obviously not present. Additionally, the concept of binding verbal agreements in consent is false, because the truth of the matter is that consent can be revoked at any time and for any reason. Do not let anyone pressure you into an agreement that no longer feels right, and do not give those who try make you feel guilty for changing your mind the gift of your company.

If you receive a no, you have a responsibility to honor it, no matter what level it is given on (energetic, physical, verbal…). If you are receiving mixed signals that is the moment to stop the action and check in with a physical pause (and usually verbal conversation) as it often means the person you are playing with is inwardly conflicted. To pause and reflect pre-emptively and proactively diverts the potential for your playmate to regret interacting with you. Your attentiveness to your playmate will build immense trust in them for you and allow them to more deeply surrender into your contact and help avoid any snarly non-consensual potentials.

Even through verbalization of a question for clarification causes us to pop into our minds and can alter the natural and easy flow that energy in the body had been enjoying, check-ins at any time are encouraged. Although disruption is often seen as negative, if it is in service to seeking clarity and checking-in this is a noble pursuit that demonstrates the attentiveness and caring of the individuals. The ‘worst’ that could happen is that the play partner would ask for a reduction in check-ins or give a yes in a commanding tone that might indicate a twinge of annoyance at the anticipation (“shut up and kiss me”). Remember it’s always better to err on the side of checking in more than is necessary then not doing so and causing an easily avoidable unpleasantness.

Mixed Signals – when signals don’t match

In your relational forays there may be times in which someone may verbally be saying yes, but their body signals are saying no. This is a prime opportunity to check in verbally explaining what you are observing / sensing with your partner (e.g.. ‘I am noticing that you have closed your eyes and your body feels stiff’), opening the conversation and engagement to a deeper level. Noticing and voicing the mismatch of signals demonstrates attentiveness to your partner, and deepens their trust in your ability to tune into them and speak up when receiving mixed messages.

If you are in a longer-term relationship or both parties have the interest and the capacity to dive deeper, you may consider discussing personal dynamics/past trauma (‘are you having any memories come up? Do I remind you of someone from your past?’). In this way you can aid in rewriting a previously painful pattern and be a new model for respectful relationship. Alternatively, you may find that the unconscious body signals that the receiver is giving off they are not only unaware of but also that they are incongruous with their desired communication. Through this multi-leveled dialogue spanning many interactions, observations, and clarifications, together you can begin to learn each other’s unique tactile vocabulary and body language until it becomes second nature.

In general, an upstanding principal to follow is that a no on one level overrides a yes on other levels. This helps honor the principal to pursue highest hell yes of all participants.


What do you do when verbal and physical do not match? What do you do in situations where you cannot obtain verbal consent (eg. a loud place, silent place)? It is recommended to ask these questions of yourself AND your play partners.

Specificity is Splendid, and unending

Another reality that is not frequently spoken about by those advocating that ‘verbal consent is the only way consent can be given’ is that not only can you never discuss every possible nuance of a particular activity, but also that specificity in asking has no end, as the following ‘may I touch your arm’ exercise illustrates. Verbal consent is not an ironclad assured safety mechanism, as manipulators will always find ways to twist words, hence the need for practice in affirming and defending boundaries through both verbal and non-verbal means.

Exercise : May I touch your arm

Pair off, one partner asks the other ‘may I touch your arm’ or something equally innocuous. The touching partner is to be in a manipulative, extractive, penetrative mindset, pushing the boundaries of akin to a misbehaving child wishing to get away with treating their younger sibling poorly as revenge for a previous slight. Beginning touching the arm in an expected ‘normal’ way, the toucher can them begin caressing in a laviscious, uncomfortable, or painful way (such as by pinching or twisting the skin on the arm in opposite directions such as an ‘Indian burn’). Allow the receiver to clarify what they do/not prefer, with the giver trying to look for loopholes, ways to manipulate, or cause pain. In subsequent rounds, asking more difficult questions such as ‘may I kiss you’ (here is an opportunity to gain comfort in vocalizing no or counter-offers for the receiving partner as well).

Discussion : What did it feel like to be the receiver? The giver/manipulator? What was enjoyable about being the manipulator (feeling smarter than the other person at finding a loophole)?

Consent killing the mood ?

A common reason that consent is seen as uncool or un-suave is the often-heard sentiment from many initiators (most often men) I have spoken to who believe that consent kills the mood. A phrase I hear frequently encapsulating this is ‘I don’t want a girl to ask to kiss me I would rather have her just do it”. I have heard the mirror sentiment from the receiver that they “don’t want to be asked to be kissed”. The subtext is that the receiver does not want their play partner to verbally ask them and put them into a mental headspace, however, the receiver does want to be listened to and communicated with on a physical, animalistic level. The trope that asking for ‘consent kills the mood’ has a big underlying assumption beneath it – that consent can only be given verbally. When we become fluent in body language we are able to ‘ask’ for consent through physical communication and to receive a body based affirmative consent answer.

** Negotiation and Consent Communication is not all verbal

I advocate for expanding ‘affirmative consent’ to include non-verbal communication,

In summation, consent has to do with both clarity in the question as well as giving the other person the time and space to respond without pressure, not the form the question comes in (whether verbal or physical) **

Body Based affirmative Non-verbal consent in practice – the Prolonged Pause – ‘physical asks’

A ‘Prolonged Pause’ is a ‘physical ask’ for body based affirmative consent. A good rule of thumb is that if you have been reading the body language signs of your partner and getting strong yesses and you would like to know if they would enjoy receiving a new sensation of [ insert activity here – neck biting, spanking, etc ] –go 90% of the way towards/into the action slowly and then pause, waiting for them to meet you the rest of the way. Through this method the engagement becomes a conversation and you are not simply impressing yourself and your wishes/desires onto someone who is reluctantly acquiescing. The amazing side benefits of this method is that the slow pace can increase sexual tension and therefore build arousal ! I would argue that offering a situation of prolonged pause and having your playmate meet your offer by moving forward constitutes ‘enthusiastic affirmative consent’.

This concept is best explained though an example such as a kiss. A kiss is a common physical escalation point  – a jump in intimacy occurs at this act and provides a prime place to practice non-verbal consent. For example, if you are the initiator/giver going in for a kiss, you can make lingering present penetrative eye contact and slooooowly lean in, pausing again about 10-20% away from physical contact to the lips of your receiver. This ‘hanging air time’ I call a ‘Prolonged Pause’. This prolonged pause is the initiator non-verbally ‘asking’ a physical question through body language – moving forward indicating their interest, with the pause signaling a space of respect that allows the receiver spaciousness to respond. If the receiver leans in to complete the kiss, this clearly demonstrates participatory consent (what I call a sign of ‘affirmative body based consent’) on their part, as they were given the choice to lean in, bridge the gap left by the initiator, and chose to join in the kiss of their own volition. (Caveat being there may be power dynamics at play that may have lead to the Receiver/Responder into feeling as though they did not have a choice – which we will discuss later – but in most typical scenarios the ‘Prolonged Pause’ is a great way to receive a yes with affirmative body based consent).

‘But what if I have to touch them somewhat for them to understand what I want to do?’

For example, let’s say the initiator is feeling inspired to give a sensation that the receiver may not be able to see before it occurs, such as hair pulling. I would recommend to start at a less-risky activity, such as resting your hand on their hair, or combing your hands through their hair to see how they respond first. Then you can begin with slow light pulling at the base of the neck and read their body signals as you accelerate the pressure. Remember, if you are unsure of you’re receiving affirmative body based consent you are always encouraged to verbally check in!

A great moment to break into the verbal realm is if you ever find yourself unable to track your partner or if any doubts or questions enter into your mind that are taking you out of the present moment. In a way, a verbal check in indicates that you want to make sure that you are still in sync with your partner and shows that you value shared resonance enough to voice interest into deepening into greater harmony. You will gain greater levels of intimacy and a long-lasting positive relationship through frequent check ins, calibrations, clarifications, and questioned posed to your partner. We demonstrate attentiveness through depth of listening, and in my numerous conversations with the body geniuses of the bay area regarding attractive traits in a play partner, attention always tops the charts of ‘hottest turn on’.

Love is Listening

The same way we demonstrate love for children we can use with our playmates : by observing them, making sure they come to no harm, and patiently answering their questions. An additional layer that we may not always grant children but do to playmates is the respect of giving them the spaciousness to come to their own conclusions without pressuring them into what we think they may enjoy or interpret to be best for them.

We can remain neutral in our inquiry through taking on the role of detectives and suggest hypothesis behind actions by using the phrase ‘the story I am telling is…’ and asking if the projection rings true (eg. the story I telling is that you are closing your eyes because you are having trouble separating your inner desires from my expression of my preferences and desired activities – how does that land with you? ).

Holding each other accountable to body language fluency

One proactive response to the falsely problematic assumption that verbal consent is ironclad (potentially stemming from the litigious nature of US society and the emphasis on verbal / written contracts*) is the need to hold each other accountable to speaking body language. Body talk is our first language, as all babies can speak to, and we all have the underlying neutral connections to make the most of this rich and nuanced original form of communication.

Humanity would be well served to teach continuing education for physical communication to increase clarity and communication density. Body language holds deep nuance – as demonstrated by the continued preference for in-person interviews and insistence on live meetings to get a true read on people even in our dispersing digitized online age. The underlying truth of somatic communication is encapsulated by the phrase ‘the body never lies’.

Non-verbal/Physical Language/Communication Common Translations/Basics

Although everyone is different, below please find some trends I have observed for how to interpret physical movements. I have encapsulated the basic ways of physically responding through the shorthand of ‘no/yes/more/less/pause/refresh’.

Moving towards : yes / more

Moving away : no / less / slow down / refresh

Speeding up : yes / more / increase energy, pace

Slowing down : no / slow / refresh

Tensing up : no / slow / decrease energy, pace

Yielding : yes / surrender

Other aspect to note are : eye movements – open/closed, eye contact, breathing changes (heavier, deeper, quicker, shallower, swallowing, yawning), repositioning, movements synching up

Additionally non-linguistic sounds are a wonderful way to communicate and stay in the bodily experience : moaning, heavy breathing, animal noises – grunts, growls, yelps, purrs, squeals.

Non-verbal Physical Safe words

Having a ‘physical safeword’ which is a physical symbol to convey to your play partner that you need the activity to stop non-verbally (‘red light’) is necessary for deeper levels of play or any type of activity in which it may be challenging to speak or hear. You will likely derive benefit from creating a signal for ‘decrease intensity’ (‘yellow light’). Over time you may naturally create a whole non-verbal language with your play partner, but these two symbols -stop and slow down – are most paramount, so start by creating those together. Please practice these non-verbal communication symbols frequently as it is important to your safety to get into the habit of using them so that they become second nature and you can summon them easily to mind / body even in the altered state of sub-space.

A common physical safeword is the ‘two tap out’ sign. In wrestling when a combatant is pinned and they admit defeat the pinee give two smacks of the ground with an open palm or on the body of the pinner to signal to the pinner that they have ‘won’ and to release them. Another physical safeword for body handling, rope play, bondage, or restricting your play mates movement is for them to hold a bell, keys, or other noisy object in their hand and drop it, causing a loud clatter to signal the desire to stop the scene/activity.

De-shaming Desire

Showing your cards – Radical Honesty

When playing with a new partner, making the intention behind the proposed touch explicit allows all those participating to fully understand and agree to the activity and subtext. Although ‘showing your cards’ and letting others else know when you have romantic / sexual interest in them can be scary for the ego, there are a plethora of benefits to making this commonplace.

De-shaming the open expression of desire and attraction allows us to be honest with each other and prevents shadowy social manipulation of undercover attempts to reach our unstated needs. When we are upfront and specific about what we desire, we speed up the process of finding a partner who can enthusiastically connect with us in rapidly choosing and conveying exact compatibility – laying out all our cards on the table. This initial honesty has a second trust building element – the more honest and vulnerable someone is with us up front, the more we can trust them to be forthcoming in the future (even in challenging scenarios).

When we take another’s expression of desire for us at face value we are able to decouple the simple expression of desire with the current social script of feeling the pressure of acquiescing to their response simply because it was expressed. In the same vein we are free to respond without charge because we are not being expected to engage in the expressed offer, as it is communicated as a preferred possibility.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Most often conveying deep feelings is scary because of the fear that the other’s feeling will not align and the revealer will be rejected. The extreme terror that rejection can cause is bound up in fear for survival – when being accepted by others was a prerequisite for inclusion in the tribe during a time when aloneness equated death. The ego’s oversized fear is outdated – a symptom of the inflated alarm over a potential social gaffe, an overblown obsession with saving face and sparing embarrassment. Failing early and often allows you to build stronger relational prototypes that allow you to receive your deepest desires from those who delight in fulfilling them.

Working up the courage to clearly communicate how you feel allows you to seize the reigns of your life and avoid wasting opportunities that present themselves out of fear of rejection. This confidence translates into having more power and proactivity when interacting with others. The more frequent the rejection, the more effective the inoculation against fear of failure – for ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. There is wariness of saying or receiving a ‘no’ as well as a stigma around rejection that we as a culture would do well to dissipate – for ultimately our yes is only as strong as our no. Normalizing saying no without judgement and making rejection an acceptable and commonplace occurrence would also break our distended fear of receiving these as answers.

There are many options in this ‘worst case scenario’ when a no is received to an offer.

The Upside of No. Benefits to receiving a No

There is a big hidden benefit to receiving a No – time is not wasted on pursuing futile actions. Although there may be a moment of awkwardness or discomfort in vulnerably sharing what you want if the other person does not share your sentiment, you are able to know right away that you are not a match rather than wasting energy in courting this person sexually (no more ‘unknowingly’ being in the friend-zone!). (side note on the friend zone – the friend zone is only a bad thing if you don’t value having women as friends!* scarcity of connection leads to grasping needy energy ** ) You are then able to divert what would have been wasted energy chasing the un-interested into pursuing others who are more likely to enthusiastically meet (and even celebrate) your needs.

Verbal Responses to No – Counter-Offers

Receive a No graciously, and if it feels genuine you can thank your partner for expressing their boundaries. Allowing the receiver to make a counter offer, or making one yourself allows the connection and play to continue and models ‘a no does not mean the end of play or the relationship’. Very young children are only able to say no to their parents or caregivers when they feel secure in the relationship that they will not be abandoned/still be loved if they say no or express their body sovereignty. See how you can get creative within the boundary, for ‘a no just means a yes to something else’. My friends Catalina and Michael invented a new type of play called ‘Energy Sex’ because Catalina expressed that she did not want to have sex with Michael (a relatively new friend) with whom she was attending a sex party that evening. The pair got creative within the boundary and through circulating their sexual energy non-physically, they birthed a new way of relating ! **does ME want this mentioned ?

After it is clear that the Receiver of the invitation is a no to the stated offer they may still want to engage with the Invitee through another activity and may choose to propose a counter offer of an action they would enjoy. This keeps the connection going and flips the roles – with the former Invitee then being Invited to decide if they would like to engage in this newly proposed way by the former Receiver of the offer. If you are new to this play partner this is a great way to vet them (see the section on ‘how do I know I can trust someone’*) : you can experience how eager they are to interact with you as a person or simply interact in a certain way; you can see if they continue to push or pressure you into the initial offer; you can see how gracefully (or not) they receive the no; you can see how creative they are when working with the no and stated boundaries related to it.

Somatic Redirect

If you are in a non-verbal space and communicating somatically and someone give you a touch they you don’t 100% prefer, you are empowered to adjust the touch. There are three ways to do so, which I will present in escalating order of want for the action to change (also could be interpreted as severity of response).

The first way to react is to redirect the touch for your enjoyment – cats are seen to do this, nuzzling their heads and chins into your hand when they want to be pet there and physically moving the point of contact to exactly where it is bringing them the most satisfaction. This body repositioning can be the perfect response to an attentive partner, but if your playmate is not as perceptive or responsive you may wish to escalate the redirect.

The second way is through a physical grasping of the offending part with your hand and moving it towards another place – for example if your partner’s hand is beginning to slither up your skirt and you’re only wanting to engage at that level of intimacy in private, you can grasp their hand and lovingly place it exactly where you desire more attention from their nimble appendage.

Finally the third way is to combine either method with a verbal clarification if your partner is not getting the message somatically through body language. This can begin with a breathy request and escalate as needed.

Initially Platonic

If you are new playmates and still developing rapport, your playmate is likely to express that they would like to keep interactions platonic.  When we begin relating on a platonic level an environment of a respectful trusting relationship is founded on the evidence that both parties will communicate authentically even when uncomfortable or difficult. As the common date night movie trope often lead us to believe it is even possible that the organic deepening and growth of the platonic relationship over time may result in feelings of attraction blossoming from the romantically uninterested that were not there initially. However, I strongly caution that this should not be the primary goal when agreeing to be friends.

Best case scenario

Upon revealing your undying love you may find that they have a crush on you too – and you would have never known had you not bared your heart !

Practice Produces Proficiency

Promiscuous Flirting :

Flirting is a great place to have fun practicing with expressing physical attraction in a low/no pressure scenario and engaging more with others in the world. As I learned in a flirting workshop, ‘flirt with the world, and the world will flirt back at you’. Flirting is also an excellent space to practice saying no while continuing to engage someone in a socially interactive dance. Practice flirting anywhere it is appropriate – grocery store, on the phone, at events. Flirting works well to spice up places that are traditionally ‘boring’ such as the grocery checkout line, post office, or DMV. Make sure your flirting is clearly playful fun for all involved – keep it lighthearted and unattached to outcome. To increase the pool of potential flirting candidates, flirt with people you are not necessary sexually interested in (eg. a young man flirting with his grandmother’s friends). By flirting with those you are not sexually attracted to you gain valuable ‘practice time’ to try out your personality before a ‘high stakes’ scenario in which you genuinely fancy the target of your flirtatious banter.


Practicing : Comfort Receiving Nos

Bus Stop Backrub Exercise :

Offer someone a touch that you are certain that they will say no to (eg. ask for a massage from a stranger at the bus stop) Consciously practice comfort with making a fool of yourself, and be surprised at the range and style of answers you get to your offer (this is also a good way to learn the variety of ways that you can reject someone). Propose a counter-offer or invite them to suggest how they would like to be interacted with. Be open and receptive to their response and whether you want to engage with them in the way in which they offered.


Pure Play

Occasionally, such as with children, pets, or friends, one may find a play partner who will simply enjoy the touch for what it is – an exploratory gift of the moment. Holy Hedonists! If you are so lucky to find this rarity, they may be a good candidate to explore what kinds of touch you enjoy without obligation or shyness (with obvious considerations of appropriateness with children / pets for lack of informed consent). With such a partner the delight comes from the exploratory play itself – relishing in the journey without attachment to destination. The focus of the session can be falling as deeply as possible into the ‘now’ of the body experience, drinking deep of the delight of the moment. When I am blessed by such a relationship all the actions within the session become a pure gift and I am welcome to show up fully as my silly, sound-full, sacrilegious self (such as by laughing when a tumble takes place or invariably gas gets loudly squeezed from my intestines).  I am fortunate to have many bodywork friends in the bay area who help me to develop SomasenZ Razma Movement Method positions and moves through our untangled, sloppy, highly experimental play.

Safe Loving Touch Exercises

Throughout these exercises note how your nervous system initially reacts and if/how you relax into the exercise. Are there memories or metaphors that come up for you with regard to how you receive touch or your inner physical experience of giving / receiving touch?

Ragdoll Cradling Exercise (credit to Karen Moriarty) :

Form duets, one member as rag doll the other as the cradler. The cradlers prompt is to love, hold, nurture, and demonstrate physical affection for their beloved rag doll. Cradlers – this is your worn out, favorite doll, the one that has been with you from the beginning, the best friend always dangling from your arm – you have never gone anywhere without your beloved doll soul twin. How can you show your love and affection to the doll? How close and entangled can you get with your doll? You may want to stroke you dolls hair, whisper secrets into their ears, or tell them a story. Ragdolls – how physically inert can you get – you are an intimate object, limp, yielding, and receptive. Now go deeper into child’s mind surrounded by play innocence, wide-eye wonder, and imagination. What does this relationship feel like in the body? In metaphor? Switch.

Discussion :

Receiver : How does it feel to receive such childlike love? What are your memories of being held tenderly? Notice when you do not trust them to hold you – where do you tense up? When / how does your body tell you they are trustworthy? What was the hardest aspect to receive (true surrender, their secrets)? Do you trust the pure nature of this experience or is your mind going into protective thoughts evaluating what they might want from you? Did anything change when you went into child’s mind?

Giver : What was the hardest thing to believe or to trust your doll with (secrets, that they would not leave your side) ? Did you remember how you used to demonstrate love physically when you were a child? Why do you think you have that imprint of how you express love (grandma always pinching your cheeks? Roughhousing among playmates as a sign of acceptance?)


Listening to Heartbeat Exercise :

In this simple exercise you will lay your ear over another’s heart and listen to their heartbeat. Find a position that is comfortable to you: Can you feel their breath? Can you feel their water body move as they breathe and create vibrations? Can you feel how their heartbeat expands their outer boundary almost imperceptibly? Switch.

Discussion :

Notice how your breathing changes – do you end up in sync? Where are you holding tension – in your neck, not wanting to fully let your head sink into their chest? In your shoulders, not trusting their body to hold you head? Do you feel as though you have to remain frozen in one position or do you feel at ease moving? Do you have any recurring thoughts of doubt or uncertainty in your mind?

Human Blanket Exercise :

For 3 minutes you will have your partner lay on top of you as a human blanket. Decide if you want to be face up or down. Do a short 10 second ‘nestling’ trial with your partner on top of you (with them facing down) and see if you need to assemble any squish or pillows you may need to feel comfortable being compressed on the floor (putting a pillow under the hips and head is recommended). Feel free to move or adjust positions if you become uncomfortable. Switch.

Discussion : what memories came up for you? Did aspects of the experience change over time? What was the experiential story arc?

Level IV Advanced Topics –

Blanket Non-verbal consent

In due diligence I wish to preface this section by proclaiming that Non-verbal consent is an advanced technique for garnering consent (as opposed to merely using non-verbal monitoring as a skill to determine that playmates are still in attuned resonance) and should only be used when all partners are confident in identifying and expressing their boundaries, know each other’s signals well, are deep listeners, and have pre-established trust.  Non-verbal consent should only be used after a verbal conversation (or several) establishing that non-verbal consent is appropriate, welcomed, and constitutes an enthusiastic yes.

I have certain play-mates with which I have established a container of non-verbal communication and consent. I have given verbal ‘blanket consent’ for them to touch me in certain ways and that I am a pre-approved yes unless I state otherwise in a future moment. As an example, a frequent blanket consent I give is for hugs, although I occasionally (rarely) turn down hugs even from people I love because either I or they feel too hot or sweaty for such close contact, if I am repelled by their smell, etc. I also turn down hugs if I am feeling horizontal and giving a hug would require me to stand and I am cuddled comfortably in my current state. There are some people I turn down hugs from if I am in an emotionally tender place and do not have the resource to give that energy to them, or if I am on another mission not to be waylaid. As demonstrated by this example, just because you have given blanket consent for something does not mean you can say no, it is more akin to a ‘standing order’ or invitation to engage in certain types of touch without needing to go into a negotiation or discussion. Blanket consent makes the natural closeness that tends to develop between friends, lovers, or partners more explicit bringing clarity to how the relationship is developing. Bringing trends of what has been formally implicit into the explicit helps us consciously create the structures that fit the needs of all parties in the timeline that is best rather then just leaving this important work to chance or the normative cultural pattern.

While learning and practicing the skill of non-verbal consent it is even more important to be obsessively attentive to what your partner is communicating and to go slow. Due to the dearth of teaching the language of the body in traditional schooling, a useful comparison to make is as though learning you are leaning a new language through visiting a foreign country. As in the case of visiting a foreign land – be careful, courteous, and curious! Remember that as infant and young children all of us communicated through fluency in body language for survival before learning how to verbalize (in the case that we had attuned and expressive caregivers). Let’s return to our Original Language : Embodied Communication !


What type of consent do you prefer (verbal, nonverbal, energetic)? Does your preferred mode of consent change depending on the environment, level of trust in partner, or your mood? Ask these questions of both yourself AND your play partners.


Fixing the Broken Stair : Reforming Predators – the need for ‘Sensitivity School’ (**attentive academy, compassionate, respectful, altruistic academy)

In part I wrote this book to address the need for educating, rehabilitating, and re-integrating reformed predators back into our communities as trained, respectful play partners (that we can also keep an eye on to make sure they have indeed changed rather than ostracizing them and having the pattern repeat in another community). The term ‘missing stair’ encapsulates the current environment well : predators being ‘worked around’ in a community as a ‘commonly known’ dangerous entities without having the issue addressed directly (much like jumping over a broken stair in contrast to deciding to fix the stair).

De-shaming Predatory Behavior

There is a need in our communities to de-shame and de-stigmatize being labelled as a predator / having predatory tendencies. Although it is crucial we hold predators accountable for their actions through a re-education program, when we de-shame the process of being given the label of predator we open the possibility for reformation. Additionally, focusing on the label as temporary until reform has been integrated also minimizes the reactional whiplash of being given what, as history shows, was a damming label for life. This process also taps into the primal fear of not being ostracized and isolated from community/tribe, which throughout all of hum-animal history meant death. This ‘scarlet letter’ process of the past encourages the panicked denial that ultimately goes along with attempting to shrug such allegations, because of their lifelong effects. Consider the parallel situation of jailing someone for stealing, not giving them any rehabilitation within the penitentiary, and then releasing them, only for them to repeat their crime due to lack of alternatives or opportunity to reform, resulting in a revolving door of continued jailing and wrongdoing (not to mention the context of violence, gang exposure, and additional hardening that is likely to occur in prison).

When we de-stigmatize the label of predator we also acknowledge the reality that these predatory behaviors did not happen in a vacuum. Instead, we focus our efforts at gazing deeply at the root causes of the behavior in a less personally charged and emotional way – aiding in problem solving and creating structures in which this behavior is no longer likely or even possible. With this systemic societal wide lens, we can address the pernicious underlying factors that laid the foundations for misconduct and eradicate the possibility of predation through personal and social systems development. Social factors contributing to predation include the touch isolation that men are encased in US society, lack of outlets for safe loving touch, and other factors discussed in the ‘How did we get here’ section of this book.

When we focus on forgiveness and use a restorative social justice model we focus on how we can make things right rather than focusing only on who was in the wrong. This shifts the focus from individual people to systems thinking to address issues that humanity has continuously been dealing with since the beginning of recorded history. Clearly, our systems are broken, and they are producing broken people in need of help and re-education. This book is one response to that need, and I earnestly hope many more follow.

Our current environment of calling predators out without systems of reform in place to direct them to change does not address the root causes of the anti-social behaviors and will cause the unconscious perpetuation of predation. Additionally, the current system puts all the onus on the victim to shoulder the burden of seeking justice, often with community scrutiny as to the truth of the allegations, judgement, and near-zero emotional support structures. Instead when we take on predator re-education as a community the victim can allocate their energetic resources where they are of most need – to heal from the trauma they underwent and reflect on ways to improve systems to prevent such transgressions in the future.

How Labelling Predators and Creeper School Works In Practice

Initially an allegation of Predation is made, which a counsel of trained community mediators evaluates. The onus is on the Predator to provide proof of lack of predation rather than the Victim. The community tracks who is making the allegations of Predation very visibly and will address the Victim if one individual continues to make many accusations or there is another suspected abuse of the system. The community then takes the power of reputation away from the predator as they have proven themselves unworthy of initial basic trust through giving the Predator a choice : being enrolled in ‘Re-socialization’ aka Creeper School or issuing a public statement of allegation. Within the public statement, the wider community is informed of who has made the allegation, what type of support is requested, the Predators choice of reaction. If additional Victims come forward this information is added to the thread of the document (available for searching online). This public statement warns potential victims and lets the community know to keep a special eye of the Predator. The opportunity for dissenting views on the character and actions of the predator will be possible on the document thread. Over time the label of Predator will dissipate (if a false accusation) or gather additional evidence as the community further scrutinizes the predator’s behavior. This system values the potential safety of a Victim over the potential initial reputation damage of a false accusation.

If the Predator chooses to attend Creeper School, they undergo the curriculum, learning in depth through practice the social and relational skills they may have missed. One portion of the curriculum may involve the Predator being assigned a Voluntary Victim who was violated by another perpetrator and has fully healed of their trauma to enter a dialogue of understanding and address the underlying social issues that need to change for the act of harm to not be repeated. There may also be a general conversation in the community between victims and Perpetrators (not each other’s) with each side attempting to analyze the factors that went into the act of harm.

Even after the Predator has gone through Creeper School, to evaluate whether the individual in question has reformed, we as a community need to address the matter through keeping eyes on the person and making sure anyone interacting with them is safe. Under this surveillance we can test and see if the perpetrator has authentically embodied their learning and changed deeply or if they are putting on a mask that occasionally slips off. This is reminiscent of speaking in a politically correct way while continuing behavior that is racist or bigoted (the values and roots of the evolved movement being cooped as a thin veneer insidiously propagating the issues they were trying to solve). Through a predator ‘catch and release’ system we also hold the community accountable to judging if the individual has truly reformed, especially in the period immediately after re-education, and reminds everyone to keep and eye on those ‘on the fringes’ and look out for each other. Part of Creeper School will involve past predators mentoring those who are newly accused Predators as their continuing duty to the health and safety of the community. ‘Creeper School’ is a program that I will release in partnership with others : stay tuned at the progress at the website of this book*.

Kink, BDSM, Boundaries, and consent

I was fortunate to connect to kink /BDSM (bondage & discipline, dominance & submission, sadism & mascochism) in my young adulthood and was drawn to it through the detailed practices around boundaries and consent, applying many of the principals I learned in my teachings and embodiment coaching practice. Due to the intensity of many of the acts, scenes, and the possible unfamiliarity of new play partners to each other’s preferences, out of necessity BDSM has developed a host of skills, techniques, and terms to create an extremely well-woven safety net of consent. BDSM culture emphasizes personal responsibility over ‘idiot’- or ‘baby’-proofing potentially dangerous scenarios and this focus forces a comprehensive ‘covering all the bases’ negotiation style. Negotiation is a cornerstone of BDSM and encompasses the pre-emptive verbal dialogue between the people who are going to ‘play’ or engage in a ‘scene’ (activity) to establish their interests and boundaries before any action takes place. For a platonic touch play context (very low-risk) some of these topics may be perceived as ‘over-cautious’ but seeing as people choose to engage in a diversity of ways, some of which have much higher risk, I stress it is wise to practice these skills proactively before you need them.

How BDSM helped me find my boundaries and understand advanced consent

BDSM was a crucial piece in the puzzle of what allowed me to heal from the trauma of losing my virginity to rape (BDSM is in addition to other formative pieces found in the Why the Somatic Magic practice was created section*). In the container of BDSM I gained detailed knowledge about the diversity of sensations and types of play possible. I found my space of comfort within BDSM and explored body handling, percussive, and impact play (mostly I discovered that others enjoyed the same activities that I did but perhaps for reasons beyond simply physical stimulation). Negotiation and communication were encouraged and helped me feel safe and secure in knowledge in what I was enthusiastically agreeing to with clear terms of exchange, disrobing my fear of ‘owing’ an unknown debt to my play partners. I love the nuanced vocabulary that has emerged around BDSM, such as describing the giver of sensation as a ‘top’ and the receiver as a ‘bottom’ and allowing for a wide range of nuances that can include ‘topping from the bottom’ (more on this later*). Educating myself about BDSM allowed me to uncover the power dynamics unconsciously operating behind broader social structures and interpersonal interactions and gave me the terminology and culture experienced with making these factors unambiguous.

In BDSM spaces I found partners who went slow, read my body language, and checked in. I also found myself in situations in which I needed to speak up to have my internal experience be understood so that my play partner could meet my needs with greater alignment. I also encountered ‘fluffy service tops’ (like myself) who often simply wanted to provide newbies with novel experiences that enriched their lives and added depth and richness to their understanding of what was possible.

I found a realm in which I could romp and relax, feasting at the buffet of sensation play without feeling pressure to be pushed into sexual waters – my luscious reactions and vocalizations providing all the tribute required to the giver of sensation. In dungeons, I was deeply apricated for my embodied gifts, body handling, energy sex, and splashy vocalizations and moans. I particularly appreciated the emphasis on reputation and community accountability which filters out abusers and manipulators quickly. I address how wider communities can address is in my ‘Reforming Predators’ section.


Negotiation is a word that comes from BDSM culture, and I have found it is a useful model for communicating needs, desires, and plans between potential play partners. “In the D/s or BDSM environment negotiation is one of the most basic building blocks of a power exchange…it is agreeing when and where to meet, what limits might be imposed or explored…physical and health considerations, emotional landmines, the use or absence of safe signals, [and] how and when the scene begins and ends.” (

A great tip to enhance clarity and make sure no topics are forgotten during negotiation is to preemptively write out your boundaries, desires, and other pertinent information to convey to your playmates in advance. This also provides an individual check in as to whether you are “able to discuss sensitive topics openly and honestly”, for if you cannot, you must seriously reconsider your status as “emotionally mature enough to engage in these activities with this person if you are not even able to speak about it openly”. This allows you to prepare your ‘elevator speech’ : a concise 3-5 minute summary of your health/injury status, boundaries, preferences, needs, and wants for connection.

One style of negotiation involves the use of white lists or black lists. “Whist list only indicates you will only perform activities that are explicitly negotiated as a “YES, please!”. Black lists indicate that you will do anything that is reasonably safe and sane, and isn’t indicated as an “I very much do not want to do this”.” For new-to-you playmates or activities, it is recommended to operate with a ‘white list only’ status until you get to know them over time. Even under a ‘white list only’ status, it is helpful to know your playmates  black list so that you can more deeply respect their preferences.

Beginning Verbal Discussions

When beginning verbal discussions use I statements, clear, concise, and assertive speech ( “I want” and “I do not want”) to express boundaries. Start small and simple with negotiations and don’t be afraid to speak up if clarification is needed (especially if the point is particularly salient for you) so that your wishes can be properly followed and reinforced. Leave nothing up to interpretation at first and gradually negotiate as it become appropriate for the developing dynamics (over several scenes / interactions or near the end of negotiation if you are comfortable with your playmate). Experienced players find clarity and honesty in negotiations more valuable than someone claiming to have ‘no boundaries’ and pushing past their comfort zone and ruining a scene. This is not a race, you will always have more opportunities to play! Start with a light and respectful scene, which allows for trust to build with additional conversation and interaction over time.

Do not agree to anything you aren’t enthusiastic about doing.

If you aren’t comfortable and 100% sure if you want to play with someone, don’t play.


Non-verbal negotiation

If you are engaged in low key physical play within the container of a class or a well-held workshop, extensive negotiations to practice a skill or prompt may not be necessary or possible. Additionally, in pick up play, or on a non-verbal dancefloor, verbal negotiation may not be possible.

A good rule of thumb for situations in which verbal negotiation is undesirable, unlikely, or impossible is to start by watching to gain more information about the players and the scene. If you feel as though your interaction would contribute and be welcome, make eye contact and make a physical gesture of ‘asking’ (eg. eye contact, hovering hand over arm to physically ‘ask’ permission to touch, making light contact and waiting for them to press their body into your touch as a ‘yes more’). **how to consensually enter group play

Start any new type of touch ‘low and slow’ – with low intensity, pressure, and pace, and only increase if your partner shows signs they desire more stimulation. It is also recommended that you touch your play partner on portions of their body where they can see you touching them at first (not staring out by sneaking up and smacking them on the rump unless they have expressed their desire and delight at this sudden shock). When introducing any new types of touch or sensation monitoring your partner’s body language is additionally re-emphasized.

For a thorough Negotiation Short and Long Form please see Appendix *

SomanautZ / Radical Bodywork Specific Negotiation Prompts

What would you like to share with me about your body / state ? Any areas that want special attention? Any areas to avoid ?

Injury Inventory : What is your injury history? do you have any old injuries ? would you like me to specifically avoid or work on those areas (eg. to break up scar tissue and fascia)? do you have any new injuries?

Do you have any medical conditions that are relevant to note?

Are you hyper-flexible?

Do you have any time limits to set an alarm for? If you fall asleep what would you like me to do?

Do you want to be in one role (dominant, submissive, switch) for a portion of time, or the whole time? Do you want the switching to flow back in forth in longer periods of time or like quicksilver whenever the feeling rises?

What are your signs / noises / vocalizations for no/yes/more/less/pause/refresh ( X 0 + – || ~ **)

How to make negotiation Safer : Community Net

For people entering a new community or place, there are several ways to make choosing playmates and having negotiations safer. These guidelines are particularly geared for those who are more submissive or have difficulty appraising if others may do them harm, reducing exposure to predators though relying on community reputation and visibility during vetting.

  • Play in a public place such as a dungeon, contact improv jam, or event.
  • Have a neutral party observe the negotiation and play such as a friend, event host, dungeon monitor, or even an attentive audience.

When new playmates are watched (especially the first-time people are playing together) they are much less likely to do something unethical, dangerous, or abusive which will reflect badly on their reputation.

  • Find a protector / mentor and have them select a play partner and negotiate with or for you.

Ideally this person is more experienced then you with the type of play you are wanting to engage in and is “a very trusted friend who very thoroughly knows your intimate desires and boundaries” with skill in choosing good play partners. ( This person may have been in the shared social circle longer, or generally respected as a good judge of character. Regardless of what others say, in the end the safest bet is to trust your personal instincts above all.

When playing in private – Set a check-in alarm

Pre-arrange with a friend that you will call them at a certain time to check in and make sure all is well on/after your first ‘play date’ with a new partner. Make sure that this friend has the address, name, and contact information of your new playmate. Tell your potential playmate that you are doing this (you can also recommend that they do the same). If they react with anger or judgement, note that as a huge red flag and reconsider playing with them, or proceed with additional caution. Be sure to set an alarm on your phone so you do not forget to check in with your friend. Remember – the first play date with a new partner is the one most likely to go wrong.

BDSM Consent

BDSM ‘Best Practices’ advocate for informed (risk-aware) express consent rather than implied consent (eg. inferred from silence). Informed consent means that all parties involved have a “clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of an action” and are aware of the potential risks of any action. Informed consent can be “given in writing, by speech (orally), or non-verbally, e.g. by a clear gesture such as a nod”. ( – this page is highly recommended reading and I will be pulling, paraphrasing, and adding to the concepts presented within throughout the section below).

Consent :

  • requires a clear, enthusiastic, resounding yes; can never be assumed, it must be granted
  • when given does not constitute blanket consent, it can be revoked at any time
  • is ongoing – requires continual communication between all parties
  • is only capable of being granted by someone who is fully capable, fully informed and not coerced
  • requires that each person involved is responsible for respecting, maintaining and/or communicating consent.


Many of the terms, concepts, and practices of BDSM have helped me immensely in understanding and navigating platonic touch situations. For example, due to many BDSM folk’s interest in power play BDSM makes explicit the typically hidden power dynamics present in many interactions with vocabulary to provide delicately nuanced detail.

Due to new playmates initial unfamiliarity with each other and the potentially intense nature of interactions consent is crucial, and trust is built up in the community over time through reputation, skill, and clear negotiation.

Absence of Judgement

There is trend in BDSM of preparing ‘elevator speeches’ in which each person’s preferences (‘yuck/yum’) are expressed and last test date / STI (sexually transmitted infection) status stated. This open and vulnerable sharing is part of the cultural fabric of informed consent and the radical unabashed honesty of the revelations allows mutually compatible play partners to find each other quickly and easily. When I encountered my first elevator speech sharing session I felt as though I had hardly explored my interests compared to the compressive and specific answers that many provided!

The emphasis on lack of judgement in BDSM is conveyed in a common phrase ‘don’t yuck my yum’ abbreviating the notion that we all have preferences and just because you don’t share someone’s penchant / perversity does not give you the permission to judge them. BDSM’s emphasis on deep sharing of personal preferences and proclivities provides a refreshing model for the clarity that comes from radical honesty and results in a system that provides the potential for comprehensive detailed matches between different playmates that are new to each other with the utmost rapid efficiency. Immediate intimate self-disclosure allows compatible playmates to find each other rather than trying to manipulate or mold someone into playing a role they are unsuited for or uninterested in. The protective nature of throughout preemptive discussion and agreement puts personal responsibility and agency at the forefront before any action occurs. Combining this with BDSM’s cultural emphasis on checking in during play and ‘aftercare’ once the scene has ended make it a model worth studying for anyone who cares about the wellbeing of their playmates – platonic or otherwise.

The lack of coercion and openness to ‘no’ and ‘stop’ in BDSM provides a strong model for healthy relationships. People only play together because they both want to, and anyone can stop the action at any time, for any reason (such as a bio-break – short for biology break like needing to go to the bathroom).

What BDSM can teach us about boundaries

When playing with a new partner it is good to have an exploratory conversation to establish your hard and soft boundaries, your rules/preferences around them, and what your intensions and desires for engaging with the person are to see if you are a good fit – having common ground to engage with harmoniously to mutual satisfaction. This may sound like sharing hard boundaries (not wanting to be touched in a certain place, no penetration, no kissing on the mouth) and describing moments that you want to be checked in with (check in when you increase the pressure beyond a firm handshake, check in before you slip under my clothing, check in before taking any piece of clothing off).

Within this initial conversation is an apt moment to establish words that signify stop, slow down, keep going, increase the pace, and decrease the pressure (for example, red, yellow, green, yes, more, lighter). BDSM uses red/yellow/green/pink light to convey stop/slow down, check in pause, less/all is well, you can increase the sensation. Pink light is coming into vogue as a sign to take a non-scene related break – such as a bio-break to get water or go to the bathroom. Some ‘safe-words’ are used to stop the action outright, such as ‘red light’ or ‘STOP’ while others can communicate a willingness to continue, but at a reduced level of intensity (such as slow down / yellow). I would encourage erring on the side of nuance, but only if it is easy to remember.

Additionally, if you are engaging in pressure play it can be useful to have an intensity rating scale of 1-10 and asking your partner where they want to be within that chart (eg. I would like to be at a 5-6, starting by building up from a 2, with a few moments at 7, with a maximum of 8). To do this you can give them some pressure and ask them what number that is, increasing and decreasing the pressure and getting their response to calibrate what their ‘2’ or ‘8’ means in terms of your provided pressure.

Pro dommes are deep listeners

Pro dommes are highly respected and sought after because they are consent specialists and are clear and thorough in their communication. Through the domme’s ability to listen attentively to their sub before the scene (as well as translating the physical signals that are unspoken during) they weave a safe container for those they are playing with. Through the magic of attentive presence, the strong container created by the domme allows the sub to submit to the domme’s control with confidence. Thus, the prerequisite for continual trust is fulfilled, allowing the sub to surrender to their deepest desires. This feeling of submission, or ‘sub-space’ is immensely pleasurable and relaxing for the sub, who feels cared for and attended to on a level that is infrequently found after infancy. Many dommes also can derive benefit from guiding their subs into this space, enjoying the Godlike rush of being in power or the feeling of nurturing someone they love, providing an intimately curated experience in which the sub can surrender further than they ever imagined through reading (and often enjoying!) the subtle communications of the sub’s body language.

[1] statistics about resources needed to produce a calorie of energy from meat, and the animals water and resource consumption as compared to plants

[2] *emotional labor reddit thread

[3] research that married men live 10+ years lnger then bachelors, and if they lose their wives they die much sooner then if a wife is widowed)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *