“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” – Vince Lombardi
The other morning, I was scrolling through my podcasts trying to decide what I was in the mood for when I came across this one – Orgasm as a Spiritual Discipline on The Life Stylist Podcast.
I mean… of course I chose that one. Who doesn’t want to start their day with a little morning sex (talk)?
The show focuses on the philosophy of Orgasmic Meditation, or OM.
(cue The Sound of Music soundtrack: these are a few of my favorite things!)
To keep this from being red flagged as porn, I won’t go into detail on what the practice entails. I thought it was odd when I first heard it… then I got intrigued as I kept listening… and by the end of the show I added it to my mental “to do” list.
But throughout the interview, several larger on-point observations were made about relationships and sex in our society these days. The one that hit home the most was the concept of surrender.
Eli Block, the guest on the show, states that surrender is the ultimate human experience, yet most of the time we can’t do it. That’s partly because our society has made sex a transactional act with a clearly defined success metric – the big O. We tend to focus on that goal. There is a lot of pressure to achieve it. Throw in the fact that our minds won’t shut off, our insecurities come out, and our egos can’t handle direction, and we just can’t surrender – to each other, or to ourselves.
I don’t mean surrender as in give in and have sex even though you’re tired… or because you’re drunk. I mean really surrender. I’m talking total lost-in-the-moment, completely uninhibited sex – no worrying about what you look like or if the other person is happy; no awareness of time; no holding back.
I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit I can’t surrender. I like to think I’ve had some great sex in my life… but I’ve never been able to really let go. I hold back doing the things I want. I hold back saying – or asking for – the things I want. I even hold back acknowledging the thoughts about what I want… sometimes because 17 other thoughts are running through my mind:
I wish he would go slower.
This isn’t working, change positions.
Yes, right there.
What meetings do I have tomorrow?
Oh shit, I lost it. Gotta start over.
This is going to take too long – should I just fake it?
As a very sexual person, I took it upon myself to learn my body a long time ago. I know what works and what doesn’t. In most situations, I can usually find a way to “get mine.” So that’s what I do – I focus on achieving the goal. And more often than not, I succeed.
But that’s not surrendering. Focus is arguably the complete opposite of surrender. I may be reaching the goal but maybe I’m just taking the short cut. Gaming the system.
Here’s where the podcast comes in. In the practice of OM, despite the O part of the name, you essentially remove that goal entirely. It isn’t the point. The point is just feeling. Not finishing. And by removing the goal – and the focus and pressure that comes along with it – you are able to surrender.
As a goal-oriented person – in sex and in life – this is a hard concept to wrap my brain around. It seems counter intuitive. Why would I not focus on finishing? I need to focus in order to finish… at least I think I do.
But what if we are cheating ourselves with that mentality and we don’t even realize it?
I’m going to use the analogy of running – a casual run, an official 5k, whatever. In either scenario, a route is defined and the goal is to finish the run… in some cases, as quickly as possible. When you’re running, do you pause to enjoy the scenery along the way? No. You may glance over at it and enjoy it for a split second, but mostly your mind and eyes stay on the route laid out in front of you; the route that leads to the finish. You don’t randomly wander off the route in search of a better one. You stay in the direction you know will get you to where you want to go. And then you reach the finish and you’re done… and usually tired.
Well, what if instead of staying on course, we just ran wherever we felt like running without thinking about it? What if we went in whatever direction we wanted to go in the moment with no expectation – or pressure – of where it would lead? What if we paused to enjoy every piece of scenery? Got lost in it. What if we didn’t care about crossing the finish line, but instead just went out exploring? Maybe that exploration far exceeds running across the usual clearly defined finish line we’ve (hopefully) crossed before. Maybe that really would be the ultimate human experience.
It’s a fun analogy to think about in terms of sex... but I think it’s even bigger than that. It can be applied to all of life. There are routes laid out before us that are considered normal, acceptable, and achievable. Routes that lead to a successful finish line for life. We rarely venture off them into the aimless unknown. Because why would we? These routes are well-worn with countless success stories. They are positioned to us as the best route… or even, the only route.
We also design and try to control every step of the route. Most of the how-to-succeed advice instructs us to set specific goals and have thought-out, intentional steps to achieve them. But the problem with that is we are then conditioned to plot out our life based on thinking, not feeling.
Often, we do surrender. But it isn’t to the whim of our desires. We surrender to the route. We surrender to the norm. We surrender to what is expected of us.
But what if in life, just like in OM, we stop focusing on the route as a means to the finish, and instead honor our instincts – aka follow our heart, listen to our gut? What if we let go of what we think life – and sex – should be like, and instead follow what we feel?
One of my favorite authors, Michael Singer, has two books on the concept of surrender – The Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment. In both books he talks about how the universe – or life, or God, or the cosmos, or whatever you want to call it – has a bigger plan for us than the narrow track with limited options we see ahead of us. And if you pay attention… if you pause to really look at your surroundings… if you listen to where you want to go… the reward for going off track far outweighs the risk. Because we are actually running in wide open space.
Maybe the key to surrender is to release the expectations we place on our life – including our sex life – and let go of the need to be in control. Embrace the unknown. Explore. Maybe in that freedom we experience the real climax of our lives.