I was 12 years old when I started exploring sex. My mother had spent much of my childhood making us write reference book reports as a punishment, creating a pre-pubescent book nerd excited to discover the Encyclopedia of Sex. Up until that moment, very little had been spoken directly to us of sex, but I had gotten in enough trouble for “sitting up underneath grown folx conversations” to know that sex was something I was going to do one day. This “encyclopedia” was both frightening and enlightening, arming me with enough information to become a sexual know-it-all by 8th grade.
I didn’t know a thing about orgasms though until I was in college, learning how to breathe. Before that, I was having fun with sex. I was even being brought to climax with several of my lovers, but I had way too much tension in my body to ever truly move into an orgasmic state. That is until I found yoga.
In the mid-90’s the landscape of yoga in America looked a lot different. In the inner-city, there weren’t a lot of gentrified neighborhoods sprinkled with storefront yoga studios like we witness now. In fact, at that time Bikram Yoga was the only studio accessible to most urban neighborhoods, so it was my introduction to yoga on Chicago’s near west side. It was just about 25 years ago when I started learning that although I inhale and exhale, I wasn’t breathing at all.
Outside of yoga spaces there wasn’t much discussion on breath in my world, but one day while lying in savasana, my instructor guided me away from the tension the body was holding and using breath I shifted into a deep state of relaxation. This was where I was introduced to the orgasmic potential of my body.
So much of my experience in sex was including being sexy, not being in the experience of sex. For me, this meant changing my stature, embodying smallness in movement and sound. My breath was shallow, my moans were ‘pretty’ and my body’s gesticulation was limited to my hips. The tension in this sexual experiencing stopped the flow of orgasmic energy into my body, limiting me to a genital-centered climax.
As I explored meditation I learned about my body’s tension and holding, which allowed me to experience what it was like to release and let go. It was the letting go that was deeply missing from my sexuality; from flirting to dating to fucking, there was just so much habitual tension. Yes I was having fun, but as it turns out, the orgasm was contingent on the liberation of my mind and body. There is no liberating the rigid body in a ritual of holding on to things that are not needed. Meditation allowed the memories that my body refused to surrender to release the grip on my pleasure, moving me into a place of allowing and receiving.
Now when I teach my erotic embodiment practice, I invite the lover to drop into a space where the breath is allowed to flow sensually into the entirety of the body, like water, gently eroding the rigidity that prepares for flight, fight or freeze. The infamous ‘monkey brain’ that we so actively avoid in meditation is supported and upheld by the tension in the body, serving as a barrier to sensation. That laundry list of things to do causes us to stiffen up in the hope that we will get to it, inhibiting arousal. And all the ways we don’t want to be makes us freeze in order to not become them, stunting orgasmic energy.
If you have tried meditation and struggle, consider this: there are many forms of meditation out there, but start with the one that brings you into your body. Meditation teaches us that despite the wandering mind, we can just keep coming back to the body, to the present moment and eventually, into our orgasm.