Expand Your Memory with Sensation
by Ruwan Meepagala Jun 10, 2014
It's 2012. The 50 Shades of Grey craze is still in full steam. A friend of mine who works for a publishing partner and passes along the message that the erotica genre is so hot that any half-literate person who can string enough naughty sentences to make an erotica novel would get published.
I take the the challenge. Two hours of stream-of-consciousness hammering the keys of my MacBook and I have written my first chapter. Never having read erotica, the best I could come up with was narrating a sexual experience from college, one that happened to be right after an intense breakup. It was almost two years prior but somehow every detail comes back to me; the glossiness of her eyes, the smell of her hair, the taste of her skin. Even more surprising was that in addition to reliving the sensations, I access the memory vault of everything I thought during that timespan; my anxiety, my lust, even the daydreams I had.
The publishing partner reads it, loves it, and says while it's not really erotica, it was interesting enough to expand into a novel. She tells me to keep writing from experience. Once again I plop in front of my MacBook. Another two hours pass...I write almost nothing. Weeks and ultimately months pass and for some reason I can't find the words to write. It's as if I don't know remember what happens next to me.
It's not like I don't remember the events. I remember the information, where I was, what I was doing, but for some reason I can't remember the details in a way that feels real. It's as if it's someone else's memory.
I decide I need to take better notes if I'm going to write about my life. I buy a stack of moleskine notebooks and a gel ink pen. For the next 8 months or so I walk around with pen hovering over notebook, ready to jot down every detail of what I see and hear. Sometimes I go so far to write down entire conversations I'm having, word for word, while I'm having them. (It doesn't make me a very attentive conversation partner.)
Periodically I review my notes and try to write down the stories again, but it still doesn't flow. The facts I had logged I can roughly remember even without the notes. It's the essence of the story that eludes me. It's like I wasn't really there.
There's some relationship between feeling and memory...
Flash forward to OMX 2 last March. I drive to the venue with Neil Strauss and I ask him how he remembered all the conversations and details from the two years he documented in The Game. I explain my dilemma: If I don't write it down, I forget. If I do write everything down, I'm not really paying attention.
He says "The Game wrote itself" because part of his journey in the Pickup Community was posting how he felt each night out on the PUA Internet forums. He says,
"you can remember what you did, but you won't remember how you felt."
Oh yeah, that's why after an OM, both partners share a frame--describe a moment of sensation.
We easily remember external observations. If you look back to yesterday at 7pm, you can probably remember where you were, what you were doing, what you were wearing, and even what you were saying. It's less likely that you remember how your hands felt.
We share a frame because by verbalizing the sensation we can better lodge it in our memory. If I say "there was a moment I felt a rise of heat in my head," I can more easily remember it so that OM by OM, I can expand my awareness of what I'm able to feel.
It's a bit paradoxical, but one little sensation can bring back the entire experience. Hearing a few bars of a kids' song can bring back your whole childhood. Smelling an ex-lover's perfume can relive the entire relationship. The emotional significance of my sex story brought back every little detail.
Feeling is the essence of experience.
One of my draws to the world of Orgasm was that I thought it would give me what I wanted to to experience. I didn't think it would alter how I experience.
I spent much of my life paying attention to the surface level, then wondering why the flowers of my reality would fly away with the wind. OM continues to teach me that feeling, sensation and emotion, are the roots that give all our experiences meaning and context. Feeling is what makes our memories real.
I notice that if I focus on the facts, I may or may not remember the feeling. If I focus on the feeling, somehow the facts, the ones that matter, stay with me.
When you root your awareness in sensation, you expand the reality of what you experience and can re-experience.