Not many people get to get off for science!
I have to confess something. Forget thriller movies, forget detective cliffhangers: The orgasm is my favorite mystery.
What is it really? Do we all experience it the same way? Is the same sensation happeing to everyone? Is it purely an incentive to procreate or is it more? An incentive to connect? A means through which we fully embody the beast within us?
Is it all of the above?
I pay a lot of attention to orgasm. After all, it is central to me as a coach and trainer of Orgasmic Meditation (OM). And still, with all the attention I pay it, the mysteries of orgasm are still largely unresolved for me.
For me, being asked to join a study Rutgers University was conducting about orgasms, how they work and what they look like in your brain was an amazing opportunity. And it was exciting to know that, as much as I had wondered about orgasms, scientists were wondering about them right along with me.
I arrived at Rutgers with one single goal: offer my services to the cause in any way that I could. In this case, that meant orgasming inside an MRI machine.
My brief of the day went something like this: We’d custom fit a head stabilization mask. I’d spend some time completing a few exercises on sensory imagery, imagining sensation-producing experiences.
Then, finally, I’d hop in the MRI to have my brain activity imaged and measured while I orgasmed with a partner.
Inside the MRI, I had three jobs:
1. Press a button when stimulation begins.
2. Press the button again when my orgasm begins.
3. Press the button one last time when my orgasm has finished.
So It Begins...
Part one is pretty easy. I'm in the MRI and the guy I chose to be my partner (the one whose number one task is to stimulate me) is sitting outside the machine.
He begins stroking and I press the button for the first time. I begin to feel some familiar sensations in my body. The heat that starts in my clitoris and spreads rapidly. The tingling sensation on my skin, a syrupy swirling in my belly.
I feel our bodies fall into a rhythm that begins to build and build sensation in my body. In my practice of Orgasmic Meditation, this is all we would do. We’d stroke for resonance with no goal and see what happens. But this is different: we're in it for climax. We're going for the gold.
As this builds, it becomes clear to me that an orgasm is within my reach. In other word: it's gonna happen.
So I wonder at this point … When exactly do I push the button? Can I actually tell when my own orgasm starts? The sensation builds and builds. Up, up, up to a peak. I’m on the edge.
Just the right stroke here and I would go over. So do I push the button here?
There’s no clear line in the sand. My body feels suspended weightless, unable to move, pinned in that spot that’s so good I could stay there forever. So is this orgasm? Do I push the button now?
And just then he pauses the stroke at the top and I feel my body melt and relax again as he begins to stroke me slower and more downward in to a valley. I can breathe again.
Everything feels clear, vivid. And from there he starts an upward stroke and we start to climb back up… up, up, up. I'm on a peak again. I’m on the edge. This time he doesn’t pause at the top and I begin to feel my entire body pulled into the sensation.
There is the slow steady escalation in a way where I know we can’t reverse this, we can't turn back now. This is an entirely different feeling from before. I'm reeling. I’m going over no matter what now.
This is what I call climax.
Where Does Orgasm REALLY Begin And End?
I manage to press the button signifying my orgasm started because I know this is the moment in time they want to measure. When it's over, I press it again to signify that my orgasm has concluded even though my body is still humming.
All of this, this entire experience, solidified something I'd begun to realize through my practice of Orgasmic Meditation: My body had been in a state of orgasm long before I pressed the button to indicate it had begun, and it would remain in a state of orgasm long after I indicated it was over.
But if it starts before climax, how far back can we trace it? Did it start on the incline of the last peak? Or perhaps the one before that? Or did it start the moment I was first aware climax was available?
Did it begin when he first put his finger down on my clitoris? Or perhaps it began during the imagery visualization exercises where I first began to imagine being stimulated, a sort of foreplay.
Then, when does it end? Does it end when the sensation thins out, or a minute or two after that when the contractions inside me stop? Am I still in orgasm when the touch of skin to skin with my partner continues to produce oxytocin, the “bonding” hormone that makes our bodies magnetize to each other?
If it’s up to me, I’d include all of it. All of it is important. All of it is sensational. By including all of it, I'm focusing on a richer experience with my partner or myself, where all of the parts, from beginning to end, are equally valid and deserving of attention.
My experience with the orgasm study ended in a follow up interview.
The facilitator asked me what I found most challenging about the entire process. I told her it was deciding when to push the button. She smiled and told me women commonly mention having similar challenges in the MRI.
Whereas we normally think it’s clear where it begins and ends, what it includes, and how it works, perhaps the more we put our attention on orgasm, the more we realize that it really is one of the best (and most special) mysteries we'll ever know.
This article was originally published at www.summerengman.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.