When I think of spankings, I think of two things: transference and release.
A spanking isn't simply the sum of swats on a submissive's beautifully curved ass; it's a transfer of energy from one mind's body into the flesh of another mind and body. Each time contact is made between an open hand and softly taut skin, the bottom is receiving the energy of the Top.
When I am spanking my pet, especially OTK, I can feel the excitement vibrating from my shoulder to my fingertips. In the moments before I strike his ass, I relish the way his muscles tighten in expectation - it only causes my hand to fall harder. I know that I'm transferring my lust and excitement to him. I know that he can feel my blood pumping.
I know that my excitement makes him more and more excited.
That's the gorgeous transfer that all Tops and bottoms experience when they are truly present in the heat of a spanking scene. There can be no boundary and no limit to the amount of energy shared between two partners when minds and bodies are tuned to the energy that flies back and forth through harsh touch and well-crafted words.
Spankings are so often associated with "being naughty" or some other pretext that "justifies" the "punishment" being received by the bottom. To my mind, spankings and other impact play is not so much about punishment (though that has its place) but rather about imprinting someone for whom you lust with your own self.
The easiest example is physical marks: when you use a cane or paddle or hairbrush on an ass and thighs, there are warm, welted, red marks. They may last, they may fade, but in the moment of their delivery, they are the Top's physical lust living in the skin of the bottom. That is no small thing.
On to release.
The release of endorphins is, of course, a fabulous side effect of the exertion during pain. We feel the lash, we feel the impact, and our bodies instantly release these chemicals to relax us and diminish the pain.
Our bodies, it seems, are prepping us to receive higher and higher amounts of input in order to enjoy greater and greater degrees of pain. This is how pain becomes pleasure; this is how our bodies find release under the violently loving hand of a Top.
There is also the utterly unparalleled bliss of taking what your Top dishes out, and doing so in order to please the Top. When you take the hand, the lash, the crop, the cane, and any other impact play tool, you are performing and giving your body over to the Top's desires. You are serving in an extreme and whole-being fashion.
Sadism is not always met with pure masochism - often, the bottom endures the pain not because they find it to be the most pleasurable sensation, but rather because they want to earnestly to please their Top.
The bottom's pleasure and release comes from giving the body over to the whims, desires, and touch of the Top. Service and submission allow us to be made over by the desire of another, and in that makeover, we are released from our own desires.
We are released from being our own self, and are beautifully reduced and enhanced to a canvas.
A canvas need not think, need not plan, but only accept the pain and sensation that form the Top's art. Each handprint, each bruise, is a testament to the release found in reduction.