It's pitch black. Martin interlaces his fingers with mine. I take a long deep breath and let it out slowly. My senses are heightened. I feel acutely aware of every sensation. Every sight and sound. Every feeling. I'm excited and scared and so present I can't imagine anything before this moment or after.
Martin isn't my lover and we're not having or even about to have sex. He's my dive instructor and he's taking me out on my first night dive. The whole arrangement is surreal. I flew from Brisbane, Australia to Hamilton Island, Australia in the Whitsundays.
An outfit called Cruise Whitsundays has taken me by boat out to a permanent pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, at Hardy Reef to be exact, called Reef World where I've spent the day diving.
It's spectacular, as you would expect. Gorgeous fish, both enormous and minuscule. Unreal coral. Everything around me living and pulsing and swaying.
And tonight, I'll sleep in a swag (a very Australian rig that's a mattress, sleeping bag, and tent all in one) under the stars, all but alone on the top deck of the pontoon under a vast canopy of stars, the Milky Way winding through.
But before I rest, I go out on my first ever night dive. It's exhilarating and terrifying. I can see only what the light of my torch blazes on. The plankton in the water sparkles like stars, making it feel as if I'm floating through outer space, weightless and alone in the universe.
"We're three of the luckiest people in the world right now," Martin says to Victor, another instructor, and I as we prepare to get in the water. He couldn't be any more right. And as I glide through the water, catching glimpses of beautiful coral and fish playing in the reef, I am suddenly struck by just how profound experience this is.
It's incredibly dangerous in some ways. We're out in the middle of the ocean, at night. No boat or copter at the ready should there be an emergency. And yet, we're also incredibly safe. I'm PADI certified, meaning I am fully trained and prepared for this dive. My instructor and his colleague are insanely experienced and trained. All I have to do is the easiest - and the hardest - thing in the world. All I have to do is trust.
It's that realization that makes me think about how much night diving, or diving in general or any number of other adventures for that matter, requires precisely what is needed to experience the kind of truly intimate, mind altering, life affirming sex that too few people enjoy but that everyone should experience.
The five tips for great sex that I learned from night diving.
1. Trust your partner. Martin is my instructor. My life is in his hands and, to some extent, his in mine. There is no one else down there to rely on. I trust him completely. Only then can I really enjoy the experience.
When it comes to sex, when you trust your partner fully, you can let go in a profound way. The best sex, the fullest, most intimate, most mind-blowing sex comes from giving yourself over completely to the person you’re with.
2. Trust your equipment. Your dive equipment is literally your lifeline when you're diving. You check it completely before you get in. But once you're below the sea, you have to trust that it will do what it's designed to do, take care of you while you're below the surface.
Our bodies were made for pleasure. People have a bad habit of not fully enjoying all the bits and parts we've been given, not trusting that we have the right and the privilege of reveling in the amazingness of all of our "equipment." But if you trust your body, it will take care of you and bring you great pleasure. All you have to do is give in to it.
3. Mind your breathing. If you gobble up air when you're diving, you have to come up way sooner than you would otherwise. If you hold your breath, you could damage your lungs and ears. Underwater, you have to breathe with intention, listening to your breathe sounds and being conscious not to hold your breath or hyperventilate.
Sex is all about breath. Focusing on your breathing can intensify orgasms greatly. Breath deeply and with intention. Play with how your body feels when you breath deeply versus more shallowly versus holding your breath all together. (Not recommended during sex and an absolute no-no when you dive.)
4. Be ever present. It's easy when you night dive to get lost in worry. Is there something scary around that next mountain of coral? Will you have enough air? But if you spend your time thinking about that, you'll miss it all. Instead, you have to be in the moment.
The same goes for sex. Forget about the mail you didn't open. To hell with any nagging body insecurities. Explore every sensation. Let yourself sense everything and take it all in.
5. Ride the unknown. This was my first night dive and my 8th dive ever. Everything about it was unknown. Even for Martin who had done this dive 1000 times, couldn't really know what we were in for. The sea is new every time you enter it. To truly enjoy it, you have the relish the unknown.
Each time you have sex it’s a brand new experience whether you're with a familiar partner or a brand new one. Whether you're trying something for the first time or enjoying the rhythm of familiarity, let the possibility of the unknown excite you and allow yourself to follow it wherever it takes you.
I came up from that dive exhausted and exhilarated and so proud of myself, allowing my sense of adventure instead of my penchant for fear and insecurity guide me. If you do the same when it comes to sex, you'll be amazed at the pleasure that's in store. All you have to do is dive in...