A week or so back, a fellow pup posted a question on pupzone.com about having trouble getting back into pup play b/c a bad experience left him w/ a bad headspace. I am cross-posting my response here... for those who may find my $0.02 of value:
I think it depends on what the particular source of your bad headspace is. The two most common, I would suppose, would be being too self-conscious and being too on-guard.
I think many pups have one time or another faced the overly self-conscious headspace. “Do I look stupid?” “Am I doing this right?” “Why can’t I get into my pup headspace?” "Does this harness make me look fat?" It’s self-defeating b/c pup-space is completely un-self-conscious and not-analytical. My usual advice for this problem is, “Fake it until you make it.” Just get down on all fours and pretend you’re a puppy w/o fretting about the headspace. This grows out of the same kind of magical “let’s pretend” we all did as children (before we turned into hyper self-conscious pre-teens). My theory is that if you push through the self-conscious, self-critical “talk” in your head and just play – just pretend – then in time your mind will start to relax and you’ll come to find that puppy-Zen headspace you want. (One thing the Buddhists say is that you can’t find the “no-mind” headspace by wanting it, searching for it, analyzing what you are doing, and checking your progress… such things move you in the opposite direction.)
I would also point-out that not every pup-play scene needs to be about the puppy-Zen headspace. I was very surprised at my first mosh pit to find that many of the pups were talking, making wisecracks, and laughing throughout the play. For some pups it’s just an excuse to be silly, mischievous… or to wrestle w/ mostly-naked guys! ;) Don’t ever feel like there’s a right or wrong way to pup-out… so long as everybody is having fun and reasonably safe.
Which brings up the second hang-up: being too afraid, untrusting, on-guard, etc. to let go and pup-out. You definitely can’t pup-out if you don’t trust your environment or the people you’re playing with. This is a much tougher situation… b/c often if you feel unsafe, if something is just not sitting right, then you need to listen to that feeling! All BDSM activity is built on a foundation of trust; if you are submitting to someone in any fashion, then you are making yourself vulnerable and trusting them to protect you (physically, emotionally…). Just some general thoughts I have:
Safety in numbers. If possible, play with a pack or at a mosh. If there are multiple pups and handlers about then odds are nothing will go too wrong, and that may help you relax.
Check references. In the
Southeastern U.S. (unless you are
very new) if I don’t know you, then I know somebody who knows you. From DC to Atlanta,
from Nashville to Wilmington, I doubt there are many
lifestylers more than two degrees of separation from me or my Owner. And it is always acceptable to ask for
references! If any Top/Dom/Handler/Alpha
finds that rude, walk away fast!
Take your time and get to know Handlers and Alpha pups outside of a scene. Have a dinner or coffee date. Go to a movie. Get comfortable around them. It’s okay to get to know the people you play w/ before you strip and let them shove a tail-plug in your ass.
Above all: relax, have fun, find people you can trust and then let go... and enjoy life on a leash. :D