Orgasms are a result of sensory stimulation that culminates in climactic bliss. It isn't difficult to comprehend why many yearn for such a blissful, albeit fleeting, state.
The goal of any species is to make more copies of itself. From an evolutionary standpoint, orgasm acts as a motivator, a reward, to reproduce. Why? Because physical union is the only means to "spread the seed" for many species. The desire to experience this unique sensation persuades us to reproduce because sex is the gateway to this euphoria. This is why when we are adolescents and young adults, a stage in out life with highest reproductive success, our minds strategically make this sensory gratification such a high priority.
As our reproductive capacity dwindles, so does our instinct to seek out a mate for physical union. While seemingly all animals possess this instinct, there's something special only humans have; the ability to interpret it, not merely experience it.
Now, why is this discussion important to the understanding of our health and well-being? Because understanding the orgasm helps us to understand ourselves. Yes, that is true. Keep reading:
The orgasm carries with it the esteemed connotation of absolute pleasure — it's placed on a pedestal of sexual euphoria. While we like to paint the sensation with graphic undertones of lust, the neurobiology of the climax is far less provocative.
At its core, the orgasm is much less about what it makes us feel than what it allows us NOT to feel. With all of the hype surrounding the sensation, we can't help but wonder: What is it about experiencing an orgasm that keeps us coming back for more?
Pleasure is typified by three things:
An escape from self-awareness: We are liberated from our burdensome egos. The weight of our constant internal criticism is lifted as our self-observer takes a brief hiatus from incessant doubt.
Decreased sense of pain: Relief from pain is an immediate trigger for the sensation of pleasure.
Alteration in bodily perception: Our inhibitions are lowered to the point of bliss. This break from self-scrutiny allows us a passing moment in a heavenly utopia.
The only other time we are able to feel such emancipating ecstasy is during an experience that is seemingly polar opposite to that of orgasm-inducing intercourse — meditation. "Bliss, both sacred and profane, shares the diminution of self-awareness," according to a popular study.
Meditation allows us to experience the trinity of bliss: decreased self-awareness, lowered inhibition, and elimination of pain. The only difference between orgasmic and meditative states is that while sex leads to the physical union of two individuals, meditative processes, like those practiced by Tibetan Buddhist monks, diminish self-awareness by allowing our mind to focus beyond self-identification and shift our focus to the macro universe. Meditation, like the orgasm, allows us to ignore the disruptions of emotion and focus on the experience at hand. In both cases, we are freed from the burden of self-preoccupation.
While the blissful corporal experience resulting from an orgasm has an evolutionary purpose (to make more humanity), the reason behind such a blissful state is due to diminution of self-awareness that can be re-experienced at a mental level by practicing mindful meditation.
Meditation allows us to shift our attention from our ego-driven selves to the world around us. Try to make it a habit to remove the distractions of incessant self-critiquing.
Sacred or profane, the reason behind such a blissful experience is going beyond the confines of self-identification. Expand your awareness. Take time each day to think about the world around you; take a break from always thinking emotionally about yourself.
Rajeev Kurapati, M.D., is a Board Certified Family Physician and author, writing about what it means to be human. By uniting the wisdom of spiritual traditions, the theories of science, and the nature of biology, Rajeev empowers readers to understand the complex workings of our mind and the role this plays in our journey to happiness. He lives in Cincinnati with his wife and son. His latest book, UNBOUND INTELLIGENCE: Discovering the God Within, released in Jan 2014, is available on Amazon.com.