Hypersex and Sensuality

Posted: October 18, 2010 in sensuality, the body, the burn

Burning Man woke me up to real sensuality.

I observed my male friends, and to a certain extent myself, approaching the event focused on the sex experience. Once the event started, we began chasing the sex experience almost immediately.


In the default world, we get used to the fact that sex is the only thing that makes many of us feel REALLY good. In Black Rock City, sensuality is more common, and actual sexuality is more muted, which I think is more natural.

I have a theory. I think the default world is hyper-sexual because there it lacks so many other things that feel good, such as:

  1. Deep community
  2. Spontaneous sharing
  3. Affectionate, bonding, non-sexual touch
  4. Self-expression
  5. Creativity

The default world doesn’t feel as good, because there’s not as much happening that’s good for our brains. We are isolated in plastic cubes, typing on plastic machines, driving in plastic cars down concrete roads, through concrete jungles, living in air-conditioned boxes, trying to chase away our feelings of isolation with illusory image-streams that are, themselves, mostly fake.

At Burning Man, there is a ton going on that’s good for our brains, sights, smells, sounds and vistas that produce rushes of dopamine and serotonin. We get surprised by gifts of food and goods at every turn. We see beautiful humans all around us, in various states of decoration and dress. We see soul-lifting art. We witness the power of nature and are moved by its majesty. We are released from the stress of jobs we don’t like. All our material needs are provided for.  We get to play almost non-stop. We get time to reflect. We have the opportunity to release negativity.

All these things combine to make our heads feel good. Not just “good”, like the good we feel during the moment of orgasm, but good in a more general, less intense sense. A general sense of well-being pervades the city at all hours of the day and night, and lifts our mood and satisfaction in life with it. It gets into your bones. It is so strong it stuck with me for weeks after I got back to my Normal Life.

This made it much less urgent for me to get sex. I could just sit and be with people, without urgency, and release the need to always be hunting for hot sex. See, in the Default World, I’m always hunting for hot sex because that is just about the only thing that feels really good, that releases a significantly-large surge of dopamine into the brain (well, that and a good solid workout).

At Burning Man, my brain is so much happier that there is a constant drip of dopamine, and a metric ton of non-sexual peak experiences along the way, that I have less need for the intense peak of sexual coupling.

The sensuality at Burning Man is also related to that instant feeling of bonding you can attain with anyone you meet. It is the sense that everyone means you no harm, and probably means you well, and is willing to work with you if necessary. I also met some very enlightened teachers who were able to instantly create a very solid feeling of security amongst strangers. And this happened again and again and over again.

Sensuality proceeds from a feeling of security and an enjoyment of the physicality of the moment. Sexuality, especially the hyper-sexuality that pervades our culture, comes more from a desire for attainment, a need for accomplishment, and a fundamental focus on performance and judgment. Magazines and editorials have drilled into our heads that sex is inseparable from the idea of “how good”, or “how skilled” we are, or how attractive our bodies are.

Sensuality is more about giving in totality, and without attachment or goal — creating a moment where people can be together in a physical way that creates closeness and security, not competition for pleasure or goal-focused striving. At least that is how I have come to understand it personally.

Burning Man showed me how deprived our default culture is, and how obsessed with attainment and goals, with respect to the body and the sources of pleasure in life on the whole. There is a great deal more room for being when a culture is more accepting of sensuality.

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