03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sex And The Memory of Sexual Experience

Recent scientific research is beginning to investigate the relationships between experience and the memories of experience. Researchers are seeing that certain areas of the brain light up depending on the thoughts, actions and experiences of a person. Detailed maps of the brain now exist for the repeated patterns that we human's experience. There are precise regions of the brain that light up when we see our child or grandchild. Everyone has similar patterns with slight variations that depend on how you feel about that child or grandchild. The rush of 'love' chemicals; dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, opiates and other neurotransmitters, fill our body and brain quickly to produce the incredible feelings of love and attachment that are involved in the profound moment when that child's eyes light up upon seeing you and hugging you.


Like any event, if this series of actions happens a few times, the solidifying effect in your body/brain becomes codified and remains. If you come across a picture of that child, and the memory of the happy face and hug has the opportunity to become visceral, you can experience the same 'rush' though you may be sitting by yourself half way across the world. The same exact regions of your brain are lighting up as they did when the real event happened. That's why we can cry at the drop of a hat sometimes or smile when nothing but a fond memory traces our mind. And we can experience even more physical manifestations during these memories too. You only have to recall a very bad memory or experience, to 'feel' it all over again in your body.

Our memories dictate how we will feel about a similar situation because our brain and body is coded from past experience. If you are a person who has had a series of unfortunate or 'bad' experiences with intimacy, relationship or sexuality, these memories are codified in your brain/body. You probably relate to them as 'real' and consider that they will always be a part of you. Scientists are discovering that this isn't true. Our brains are much more 'plastic' than they ever understood. But how do we change our mind/body experiences, and memories of the experiences, so that we can have a fresher, newer outlook? How do we shift if we're so plastic?

One of the tenants of neo-Tantra is just say 'Yes' to everything! While I actually don't advocate for that, especially for beginners, I do believe that saying yes sometimes, with a calculated risk assessment, is a very good thing. When you say yes to something that is risky you are being brave and you are probably about to have an experience that will make a shift in your perspective, especially if you make the decision to go forward consciously. That shift has the potential to lead you out of a negative feedback loop and into a more balanced attitude about the past experiences that do not feel so good now. This takes courage to change.

Scientists are beginning to understand that it takes very little brain 're-wiring' to make changes in our brains but the 'little' has to be pretty big to make the change. In other words, risk, boundary breaking and most importantly trust has to occur in order to make the profound changes that are needed. So if you have had some not-so-pleasant experiences with intimacy, or maybe reaching an orgasmic state, then a whole new way of approaching the situation may cause a break through to occur. Your brain/body can make a profound change for the better.

Many people have done this during experiences with skilled teachers, healers and workshop leaders in the Tantra community. Sometimes it's difficult and sometimes it happens easily. There's no guarantee ever but one thing that is assured is that the door will open to the opportunity to see things differently; to understand that our brains, bodies and memories are not frozen in us but malleable and changeable. Old memories can be transformed and new ones can grow and nourish us more fully.

On a personal level, I believe that the mind, body and 'spirit' manifest powerfully within us. They work so tightly together that it is a small wonder that modern science hasn't made more discoveries about their interconnectedness than it has in recent years. It makes me wonder if we will be able to keep up emotionally, educationally and rationally with many of these discoveries. Reading and studying about scientific breakthroughs is an important part of basic education and many of the current fascinating discoveries would help us right now with personal growth and evolution. Yet it takes years for many of these discoveries to come to light.

I know that scientists like to have proven results, beyond a doubt, but in the fields of sexuality, spirituality, energy, quantum physics, meditation and neurology the many deductions that can be formed from the current science aren't being expressed, and speculated on, as much as I would like to see. Maybe speculative ideas are going on behind closed doors, in the academic institutions doing research in these areas, but I would like to hear more about them.

Suzie Heumann is the founder of She studies, writes, has authored three books and makes films about conscious sex, Tantra and the Kama Sutra. Check out Premium for the most comprehensive tantra training available on the Internet!