Episode 25: Sports, Sex and Orgasm
Every athlete can identify peak moments in their career, when something seemed to take over their bodies and they performed at their best. In sports, this is called flow, where the critical mind shuts down and the body takes over. Hear from one athlete about his peak experiences pitching, how he owned the field and everything that happened, and how they relate to orgasm and sex.
J: I love sports; the challenge, the exhileration, the winning and losing, the conflicts on the field, the frustration, the teamwork, the trying, the getting better, and best of all, those moments where you are truly free, where your body acts instinctively and without question and your instincts kick in.
J: If you’re wondering why I’m talking about athletics on a podcast that claims to be about conscious connections, sensuality and relationship, it’s a good question. I have a good answer though. In my opinion sports and sex, in particular orgasm, have a lot in common. In both sports and sex peak moments come when the chatter of your mind shuts off and your body leads the way.
J: From One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco we bring you A Taste of Sex: Reality Audio, a podcast featuring the personal stories and perspectives of people engaged in the act of exploration of conscious connection, sensuality and relationship. This weeks podcast: Sports, Sex and Orgasm. I’m J. Stay tuned and turn on.
J: The mind is an amazing machine. It judges everything and it never hesitates to tell you what it thinks. If you don’t watch it, it can spin out for hours. The saddest part is that we don’t even realize how much our minds control us. Even during sex, or maybe especially during sex it can be hard to shut down this overactive thinking, judgmental mind. We’re wondering if we’re doing it right or why isn’t our partner doing it right and don’t they know that we don’t like this or that, or maybe there’s just something wrong with us that we can’t feel. And then there’s this place where you just don’t care how you look or what’s happening, it just feels good. Your mind turns off and your body is on. That’s orgasm. Which brings us to part one: The Inner Game of Tennis. Tim Gallwey who wrote The Inner Game of Tennis published by Random House, defines flow as a state of being quote “unconsciously conscious”. Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis became a phenomenon after it was published in 1974. It provided what could be called a meditative approach to tennis that helps many people, from those who dabbled in the sport to professional athletes, tap into their natural intuition and improve their games. In the book Gallwey identifies two selves. Self one is the ego mind. It judges everything as good or bad. Self two is our natural self or the self that knows. The trick is getting self one out of the way so that self two can do what it already knows how to do. Here’s a passage from the book:
Unknown Speaker: “Reflect from the state of mind of the player who is said to be hot or playing in the zone. Is he thinking about how he should hit the shot? Is he thinking at all? Listen to the phrases commonly used to describe a player at his best; ‘He’s out of his mind. He’s playing over his head. He’s unconscious. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.’ The common factor in each of these descriptions is that some part of his mind is not so active. Athletes in most sports use similar phrases, and the best of them know how their peak performance never comes when they’re thinking about it. Clearly to play unconsciously does not mean to play without consciousness. That would be quite difficult. In fact, someone playing out of his mind is more aware of the ball, the court, and when necessary, his opponent, but he is not aware of giving himself a lot of instructions, thinking about how to hit the ball, how to correct past mistakes or how to repeat what he just did. He is conscious, but not thinking, not overtrying. A player in this state knows where he wants the ball to go, but he doesn’t have to try hard to send it there. It just seems to happen, and often with more accuracy than he could have hoped for.”
J: A few years ago I realized for all my years of playing sports I had been using physical activity as a way to come out of my mind and into my body. I realized this after starting the practice of orgasmic meditation. For women, orgasmic meditation requires that you focus your attention on your partner’s finger, which strokes up down, up down on your clitoris for fifteen minutes. Believe it or not, even though it is a finger stroking your genitals, it is still easy to withdraw into your mind. You have to actively pay attention in order to feel. After starting the practice I’d realized that those moment so flow that I’d had during sports mimic those I felt during orgasmic meditation. Part two, pitching and sex.
Mark: Before there was sex for me there was baseball.
J: That’s Mark, a friend of mine who lived at One Taste Residential Emerging Program for a few months. As he puts it, baseball and sex are similar for him because he cares about both a lot.
Mark: Baseball was how I actualized. It was really core to who I was. I mean, I loved it, I loved it. Pre-sex all my fantasy was about baseball. And…
J: What would you be thinking about?
Mark: I mean, always imagining, imagining situation where I was the hero or I came through in the clutch, imagining all your friends watching and being in the major league.
J: Mark was a pitcher. On your best days as a pitcher you know what’s going on in all parts of the field, from the players on your team to the fans to the batters in the batters box. You feel their emotions, their strengths, their weaknesses. You feel all of it and from there you make decisions about what to throw and how to throw it. A few experiences stand out in his mind. They’re extreme cases where he became locked in an almost trance like state.
Mark: There was something there that was different, you know, like it felt like you were channeling something that wasn’t you.
J: The first occurred when he was eleven. Mark’s team was playing in the Little League All Stars. Teams from all over the country had come. For an eleven year old whose whole world until that point had been his elementary school it was a big deal. For his eleven year old ego a lot was at stake.
Mark: I remember the day before being, I don’t know, it’s a combination of fear, of dread, excitement, it’s just like the feelings are bigger than you. There was a way in which I was fretting so much that something happened.
J: His ego overheated. Like a car engine that can’t take anymore, it shut down, collapsed, gave up.
Mark: It’s almost like my, like my ego fainted, couldn’t handle the pressure, it couldn’t handle “Oh my god, if I do wrong”, you know. There was too much at stake so it shut down.
J: Turns out the collapse of the ego isn’t a bad thing. Mark went onto the field and started striking batters out. He was throwing so hard that kids from the other team were crying. He’d entered a flow state, the kind of experience that athletes dream about.
Mark: You know, it was one of those experiences of extreme power, like you could, I could see, I could just see the body language and it was like this sort of, you know, this sort of killer instinct feeling, like you could just sense it, you could just sense that you, you know, you were controlling the scene completely. The game came and went. I think there were like 21 impossible outs, that I like struck out 19.
J: That same kind of extreme flow state occurred when he was in high school.
Mark: I was in my junior year of high school and it was, we were playing our arch rival and again in the relative world of who I was then it was, you know, a profoundly important situation. I cared a great deal about it. My sophomore year I played in the varsity and I’d done well but I wasn’t really viewed as a team leader. Like my junior year there was tons of expectation on me, like I was, I was meant to lead the team, you know, it was my turn to be that, that player people counted on, you know. So it was like there was more at stake. I remember waking up that day, that nervous but blank feeling, a feeling like, “Oh god”, dread creeping in, you know. You’re just waiting for the day to get by, waiting to get through school, like just terrible, anxious feeling. I remember being in the bullpen warming up. I started to warm up and I was, I was terrible, like I was bouncing it to the plate, I was terrible. The manager of our team, our coach, like he kind of like just left me alone, he just needed to get away from me ‘cause he wasn’t, you know, I was, I remember him, he was so, you know, and I remember just having this absolute dread feeling, like “Oh my god, I’m going to totally tank. Like, I’m going to choke.” Choking, at that point to me, choking meant you’re a bad person, that’s what was at stake.
J: Everything, like your whole identity was at stake.
Mark: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s how it felt.
J: Like it could kill you.
Mark: In the craziness of one’s mind, yeah
J: You’ve been listening to A Taste of Sex: Reality Audio. We’ll be back after this short break. Stay tuned.
J: This is A Taste of Sex: Reality Audio. I’m J .
Mark: I could hear the crowd getting, filling up. You kind of hear a murmur, the murmur gets a little louder. I remember not wanting to look at the other team, just being afraid, and it’s like I started to just close in. And then I remember sitting in the dugout telling someone, like, “Don’t talk to me.” And the next thing I remember, I think it was like the third inning.
J: So you don’t remember the first two innings.
Mark: I don’t remember the first two innings. As soon as I got out there I was a different person. It didn’t feel like me. I was in this state where my body felt like it was effortless, but I was throwing as hard as I’d ever thrown before. I could see the surprise, I could see in other people’s faces what was happening. There’s a quality to it which is not from this world in a way. I remember throwing a pitch and I remember catching the ball and just sort of walking back, you know, turning my back, and I was just so relaxed. I knew that I was going to put the ball where I wanted. I knew the batter wasn’t going to hit it. I could just see it everywhere, I could just sense it everything that was going on, and it was just this ecstatic feeling, like I felt in control of the entire scene. I could feel everyone looking at me in awe. On that day, in that moment, like there was no more potential.
J: Like you were at your full potential…
J: and maybe even beyond…
J: your full potential. What happened during the game?
Mark: We won the game. I gave them one hit. It could’ve easily been a no hitter, but there was confusion with the first baseman on whose going to cover. I think I struck out 17 people, like it was easily one of my best performances ever. It was just this feeling like something visited my body, you know.
J: I’m curious about coming out of it, and then did you ever enter it again, and was there ever a way that you could manufacture, because it’s such a rare and precious state…
J: and yet it’s the place we all want to be.
Mark: Yeah, I mean the thing about it is is that what I did is I remembered it as not me. Like my ego couldn’t have it that that experience wasn’t it. There’s a way in which I didn’t trust my body, like I didn’t trust that it was me. And in a way, that’s step one in having more difficulty recreating it…
J: Since you couldn’t trust it as your experience then you couldn’t have it again, is that something…
Mark: Yeah, but my ego had to say that as, “That’s not Mark”, queued it as something it can’t, it…
J: It couldn’t replicate.
Mark: Yeah. It found, it found a way to make it not me, you know.
J: Because it wasn’t involved, is that…
Mark: Yeah, exactly.
J: But did you ever want to…
Mark: Of course, yeah, of course.
J: did you ever want, like think about like, “Oh, how I could get there”?
Mark: Yeah, it’s just like, you know, you’re not throwing strikes, which is a common thing in baseball, right. And the catcher and the coach will come up to you and say, “Just concentrate.” Like, “Fuck you”, you know.
J: And what’s so offensive about that.
Mark: Well because what’s offensive about that is of course, you know, you want to throw strikes and of course it’s bothering you more than it’s bothering anyone else. Concentration, the word to me it associates trying, and there’s a way in which concentration isn’t trying, it’s letting stuff, it’s letting stillness happen. It’s not trying to muscle through and create stillness or trying to ignore things or, you know, trying to not think about things. It’s profoundly not trying. It’s being at peace with what you can control and not control.
J: So, I have a question about sports and sex because you said you were obsessing about sports before you obsessed about sex and that there was this similarity, like once sex came into…
Mark: I didn’t use the word ‘obsessed’…
J: Okay, sorry…
Mark: I used the word ‘fantasy’, right. My fantasy life pre-sex…
J: Was about sports.
Mark: was about sports…
J: Okay, I’m equating that to obsession ‘cause it was something that you were thinking about a lot.
J: I guess I just again just want to make a parallel analogy between sports and sex and this idea like, like you go on a date and you really care about what’s happening and then like you’re…
Mark: It is, there is a level of like lets ground in the truth. Like there is a level of performance. On some level there is a performance going on in the same way that there’s a performance going on in sports, right. It’s, you’re applying techniques in what you know to create something or co-create something, and it’s a performance that one cares about a lot, I mean most people care about it. Like most people care deeply about how they perform in sex. And so it has all those, you know, that vulnerability that’s associated with performance.
J: So as you’re talking I’m thinking, it’s almost like when you go into sports, it’s like you enter another realm, you enter a place that is almost as you said mythical, magical and you, you know, there’s the winning and losing part, but there’s also just the being in it part, right…
J: ‘cause there’s a place where you know that to be in it you have to leave everything else behind in order….
Mark: Yeah, it’s very enveloping…
Mark: like, when you’re in it.
J: And then there’s this comparison to orgasm and orgasm is the same thing, for the involuntary musculature to go off, which is our definition of orgasm, you have to leave everything else behind. I mean, even just to have a good sexual experience you have to leave everything else behind and, as you said, you become enveloped by it.
Mark: You know, you use technique as a way to go up to those events where you get beyond the body, like you were saying, you have those moments where you’re totally enveloped or you’re totally in your body and you get to this state of this beyond mind flow state but, you know, you get there by using the techniques and all those things, like they allow you to inch up to that space and maybe on good days you can drop into it.
Mark: Like orgasm, right. The orgasm enters when it’s going to enter. To some extent one’s technique, it does have an affect, right.
Mark: There’s good technique producing a good orgasm. And then there’s that other level…
J: Where you’re just totally lost.
Mark: Yeah. That’s where you’re not really in control of that. Like it’s going to show up when it’s going to show up, and it’s delusion to think that you do control that.
J: And what about the state that you enter into during an orgasmic meditation session versus that state in baseball?
Mark: The experience that I had in baseball, there’s no question in my body. My body was just like in command and it felt like the most natural thing. There’s a stillness to it, like there’s a quality stillness that, it’s like in a way you almost know what’s going to happen, and it’s a different, it’s not like an intellectual knowing, you can just tell what’s going to happen. Like in those cases I knew that if I wanted to throw the ball in a particular position, like it was going to happen. I knew that that pitch that I was going to throw, like I knew it was going to happen. Yeah, I mean and I’ve had glimpses of it with orgasmic meditation.
J: Yeah, so what are those glimpses that you’ve had in orgasmic meditation?
Mark: I’ve had moments of feeling what’s going to happen, feeling her reaction before it happens, being able to sense how her body is going to move. Like my finger knowing what to do, knowing when to stop and be still, having an instinct about what to do that isn’t, there’s no time to think about that instinct.
J: What do you see as the relationship between that orgasmic state that one can enter into during sex or in a practice of orgasmic meditation versus that state of stillness that you describe in pitching? Is there, is there a parallel relationship here, is there…
Mark: Yeah, well I think those states are ecstatic static, like those states are inherently fulfilling and connecting, like those situations fill you, like they fill you possibility, they fill you with a sense of mystery. At its best it’s an awe inspiring experience. I’ve spent a life chasing those experiences, those in flow experiences are the best part of life I think. It feels like the natural state, like that’s where all the good stuff comes from, where all the creative thought comes from. It’s like it’s a source, that state is a source.
J: A source for what?
Mark: Creativity, balance in a way. It’s deep pleasure. It’s not sort of titillating pleasure, it’s like soul pleasure. It’s a primary reason for being, you know, to be in that state.
J: Thank you for listening to A Taste of Sex. If you have questions or comments about this show you can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For transcripts you can find us on the web at Personal Life Media. I’m going to give you one more website and that’s for more information about One Taste, our lectures, classes and workshops, you can check us out at onetaste.us. I’m J. Join us next week.