Sleepmask/Blindfolds can be used in various applications:
As a sleep mask: They block out light when sleeping, especially during air travel, or for those who sleep during the day. It is believed that shutting out light allows the user to achieve a deeper level of sleep. They can also provide relief from claustrophobia for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) patients.
In children's games, such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey and when hitting a piñata.
During both martial arts and weight lifting to encourage reliance on other senses, such as touch or hearing.
As a sensory deprivation tool in meditation (to focus attention on oneself rather than outside imagery).
A kidnapping victim, hostage, prisoner, etc. may be blindfolded to avoid identification of location(s) or people. (A common alternative to this usage is the use of a hood instead.)
Before sunglasses, they were worn as the primary facial cover for those who could not see. This usage, though uncommon, is still practiced in modern times.
Blindfolds are used in several magic tricks. One common trick involves a blindfolded performer doing a task that requires vision such as driving.
Sexual blindfold use is common in and outside of the bondage community, one of the initial things recommended for sexual variety. Blindfolds (along with feathers and handcuffs) are commonly sold in novelty "bondage kits" marketed toward non-BDSM practitioners. Many impromptu items already found in the bedroom lend themselves to such use without preparation or prior purchase of specialized equipment.
Use of a blindfold is said to enhance the remaining senses of the wearer, focusing attention on sound, smells and physical contact. This increased awareness is said to allow for greater excitement and anticipation by eliminating visual cues, as one cannot see what to expect. It also requires trust of the submissive, with all the emotional ramifications that entails.
The blindfold has been a powerful symbol in divination and mythology since the 15th century. In law, it is seen being worn by Lady Justice, to represent objectivity and impartiality. The blindfold as a symbol is also a common theme in tarot and other divination methods. It can represent themes of the victim, resistance to clarity, denial, or limited views. It is often accompanied by underlying themes of integrity and truth at a cost. Likewise, the icon of the blindfold can symbolize the dichotomy of the conscious and the unconscious, as wearing a blindfold represents a stasis or a lesser state of consciousness, whereas taking off one's blindfold represents a form of awakening or rebirth. It also represents connection to feeling over senses, emphasizing the importance of emotion over perception.
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