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Mindfulness and Sex

Is meditation part of foreplay for you and your partner? If it’s not, it should be! Mindfulness may seem like an overused buzzword these days. We hear it ad nauseam about everything, including mindful eating, mindful drinking and mindful parenting. When a wellness trend becomes as ubiquitous as mindfulness, it’s easy to roll your eyes and assume it’s mostly hype. If that’s the case for you, I urge you to keep an open mind because today, we’re going to talk about the most fun mindfulness practice of all – mindful sex. 

In theory, being mindful is easy. You simply bring awareness to your breath and focus your attention on the moment. In reality, it can be incredibly difficult. Our brains are like hamster wheels, spinning feverishly with thoughts and worries. For most of us, the second we close our eyes and try to focus, we start to think about the laundry, the credit card bills, the project at work, the big date on Friday, and on, and on, and on... 

If that sounds like you, don’t worry. They call it mindfulness practice for a reason. We have to train ourselves to be mindful. We have to practice closing our eyes, breathing deeply, sitting still and existing completely in the moment. One of the most fun and rewarding ways to practice mindfulness is through sex. Whether it’s masturbating on your own or exploring with a partner, mindful sex not only increases pleasure and improves orgasms, but it can also help to heal trauma and combat sexual dysfunction. 

Improving Sexual Health and Wellness

If you’re one of the millions who struggle with sex, it will come as no shock that about 43% of women and 31% of men suffer from some type of sexual dysfunction. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (a lack of desire or low sex drive) affects approximately 30% of women and 15% of men. Sexual arousal disorders such as erectile dysfunction are found in 10% to 20% of the entire population and almost 30% of men complain of premature ejaculation.

The root causes of these disorders can be physical or psychological in nature. People who have a history of sexual abuse or trauma can go on to experience difficulty achieving sexual fulfillment. Medications, pre-existing health conditions and relationship issues can also affect sexual desire and performance. The good news is that no matter what your particular sexual challenge is, there’s a good chance that a mindfulness practice can help. 

Even if you don’t have a diagnosed sexual dysfunction, you may still have room for improvement in the bedroom. For instance, if you engage in a practice called “spectatoring,” you may very well find yourself distracted during sex. Instead of being completely absorbed in what you’re feeling in the moment, you’re observing from a third-person point of view, which may lead to being self-conscious or critiquing the way you look or perform. Distraction while doing the deed is the easiest way to sabotage your sex life, and that’s where mindfulness comes in. 

How Does It Work?

Imagine yourself lying in bed, eyes closed. Your mind is blank, and your only focus is on the physical sensation of being touched. A thought enters your mind. Maybe you forgot to feed the dog. You acknowledge that thought and let it go without worrying about it or judging yourself for having it in the first place. You focus your mind back to your body and the sensations that you’re feeling. You’re 100% immersed in the touch, the feeling, the pleasure. That is what mindful sex looks like. 

You might be thinking to yourself that this is easier said than done. However, there are some simple tools you can employ to help with distraction. The biggest tool you have in any mindfulness practice is your breath. Inhale deeply and bring your attention to your breathing. If you’re with your partner, breathe in their scent. Let it wash over you and connect you to them. Staying mindful during sex is not only a great way to achieve orgasm, but it’s also a great way to achieve greater intimacy with your partner or connection to yourself.

Just like with traditional meditation, there are structured forms and non-structured forms. For instance, Orgasmic Meditation or OM is to sexual meditation what Transcendental Meditation or TM is to traditional meditation. If you have a couple thousand dollars and want to take structured classes, that might be a good option for you. However, it’s really not necessary at all. There’s no wrong way to practice mindfulness in your life or your sex life.

It’s All About the Journey

Even though enhanced sexual pleasure and orgasm are awesome, they’re not the end goal of mindful sex. In this case, it’s all about the journey and not the destination. It’s about feeling and exploring your body and/or your partner’s body in a way that is completely focused and intentional. Use all of your five senses. Truly taste, touch, smell, hear and see yourself and your partner. Bring your focus back to one of these senses when you get distracted.

As with anything, the more you practice, the better you get. Try practicing mindfulness in your day-to-day life as well. Maybe take five to 15 minutes a day to meditate. You can use an app like Headspace or simply close your eyes and bring attention to your breath. The more you practice being in the present moment, the easier and more natural it will be to re-enter a state of mindfulness at will. Staying mindful in your day-to-day life will also help to relieve stress, which we all know is a powerful libido-killer.

The scientific literature on meditation and mindfulness is still evolving. However, we know that meditation and mindfulness positively affect our physical, spiritual, emotional and mental well-being. As we continue to research the benefits, I think the medical community will increasingly add sexual well-being to that list. In the meantime, I would encourage you to add mindfulness to your sexual repertoire. It may just become your favorite thing in the world to practice.