2. Meditation and sex
Once in a while, we in our culture hear about about the Kama Sutra, but, in general, I think our image of a meditator is a desexualized figure sitting in some sort of robe. We may have heard about tantric practice, which we associate with prolongingorgasm, but it's all sort of vague, and isn't meditation about sitting quietly and thinking about God?
I have no experience with tantra, but meditation is great for sex. (And by the way, "thinking about God" is problematic for meditators in about four different ways.)
Even in the short time I have been meditating, I have found it to tremendously improve my focus and orgasms during sex of any kind (solo, partnered, etc.), and meditation has altered how I regard sex from an ethical/religious perspective.
Like (I hope) many people, I think my biggest problem in sexual performance, over the years, has been distraction. Even the most mundane (and consequently hilariously inappropriate) thoughts can come up during sex: taxes, conference rooms, laundry. Sometimes the thoughts are less innocent, as they may involve other people, thus threatening the bond of intimacy which (ideally) exists between two lovers. In any case, these "foreign thoughts" (to use the Jewish term for them)take me out of the sensual pleasure, and emotional delight, and into some other place that is not as much of a turn-on.
In meditation, I have begun to learn how to notice these thoughts, and let them drop. Note that it doesn't usually work to push the thoughts away: the pushing is itself too much an action of the mind. In meditation, it interferes with Witness consciousness, which is all about noticing the mind rather than being caught in it,, and in sex, it takes the mind away from the erotic thoughts that we know are where we want to be, but which are still sometimes hard to stay focused on. "Dammit, why can't I focus!" - not an aphrodisiac. So these thoughts have to just be allowed to drop - mid-sentence, mid-articulation - and the attention guided gently to what is happening right now. In meditation, there are a number of ways in which the attention is turned: sometimes to one-pointed concentration on the breath or another subject, sometimes to open awareness toward whatever is happening now, etc. In sex, one- pointed concentration can lead to intense experiences of sexual release, and open awareness can tune us into the needs and desires of our partners. Both practices bring us back to what's hot, what's real.
In what Jewish mystics call "small mind" (mochin d'katnut), in the mind that divides the world into subject and object and is constantly thinking and desiring, I have had orgasms where I barely noticed they were happening, so busy were parts of my mind on subjects other than my penis. And conversely, I have been in sexual situations with people whose pleasure I valued but ignored, because I was too lost in my own story to 'tune in' to what the other person was feeling. Why even bother with sex like this?
But in "expanded mind" (mochin d'gadlut), when my concentration is focused just on the sexual pleasure I am feeling (usually on only one part of my body, but sometimes more generalized), I can keep the mind present during the ecstatic release for seconds at a time. Mere seconds - I can only imagine what experienced meditators can manage, floating in the physical pleasure for ten? twenty? thirty? seconds before a single thought or judgment arises. And I can only imagine tantric practitioners extending, through their mindful concentration, the period of orgasm itself to - so we hear - last for minutes and hours.
The Sacred and the Profane
A Conversation with Douglas Rushkoff
Reinventing the Wheel: A Review of Nothing Sacred
They Gonna Crucify Me: A 'Lapsed Jew' Responds to Nothing Sacred
Plus these other attractions:
Meditation and Sensuality
Anything You Want to Be
Josh Graduates High School
Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here