Sexual mindfulness is a skill that can be learned with regular exercises and practice.
Sex is much more than a basic evolutionary, biological, and physiological imperative. It’s also essential to how we connect with our partners romantically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It’s also a potent stress-reliever and significant source of pleasure and well-being. Unfortunately, recent global data show people and couples, even the most satisfied with their relationships based on self-report, are having less sex. This begs the question, can sexual mindfulness help us all not only have more sex, but more connective and pleasurable sex?
Mindfulness involves focusing your awareness on the present moment, even when faced with distractions, as well as observing, but not judging, ourselves and others. Sexual mindfulness also consists of the two factors of awareness and non-judgment. Practicing mindfulness during sex involves being “present, aware, and accepting, as well as non-judgmental during sexual experiences, for a more qualitative experience for both partners.”
Quality over quantity is an approach that can lead to a better sex life. Studies show that feeling satisfied with the sexual aspect of their relationship is more important to many people than how often they have sex. You may be surprised to know that improving intimacy begins before you ever set foot in the bedroom. It’s important to nurture the nonsexual aspects of your relationship to boost marital satisfaction. Acts of tenderness and affection strengthen emotional ties between partners. Feeling secure and loved is a strong foundation for sexual pleasure, and practice sexual mindfulness can help.
On the face of it, having enjoyable, loving sex seems like the last thing we might be inclined to tune out. But we all know the kind of mind-wandering that can strike even in the midst of great pleasures. From a mental replay of the staff meeting earlier in the day to obsessing about the final luscious peak of the sex you’re having in that very moment, in lovemaking, as in life, tuning out is a part of being human that’s very difficult to turn off. That’s where sexual mindfulness comes in.
The very best and quality sex happens when we tap into and are at play with that nearly untamable energy: yours, mine, ours. We don’t own it or possess it (or the other person, for that matter), but we get to dance with something more powerful than us for a little while. Sexual mindfulness is about paying attention — with intention and purpose, and without judgment — to what is happening during intimacy. It’s about being present and accepting the moment as it is.
Here are some tips on how to practice sexual mindfulness.
Start outside of sex
Begin by practicing mindfulness in your nonsexual life. It takes purpose, effort and frequent practice to develop mindfulness skills. Guided meditations on YouTube or at a yoga class may be a good place to start. Once you are comfortable with this concept, you can incorporate sexual mindfulness into your sex life.
Avoid distractions during intimacy
Turn off your TV and silence the cellphone. Shut the door so pets can’t wander in. Create a sacred space around you and your partner.
Transition from your daily chores to intimacy
If you give yourself time to prepare for intimacy and wind down from the workday, you’re less likely to be interrupted by thoughts like “Did I turn off the light in the kitchen?” or to start composing work emails in your head. Writing down your to-do list before sex may help clear your mind.
Focus on your breathing. Practice sexual mindfulness by sync your breath with your partner’s if you can.
Engage all your senses
Light a candle. Try some quiet music. Feel different textures. Then, during sex, ask yourself: What do I feel? What do I smell? What do I see? What can I hear? What do I taste? Focus on each sensation.
Don’t worry about wandering
When random thoughts pop into your mind, don’t berate yourself. Simply notice these thoughts, then gently bring your attention back to the present moment.
Have a sense of gratitude for the special moment that you are sharing with your partner. Gratitude releases dopamine, which enhances libido.
Release your expectations
When having sex, try to let go of your expectations about being perfect, having to perform or needing to experience an orgasm. Release your need to control, direct or have a routine.
Be kind to yourself
Let go of self-criticism, negative body image concerns and sexual shame. If these thoughts pop up, don’t try to argue with them. Notice them, and picture them floating away.
Be kind to your partner
Be willing to set aside judgments. As needed, gently set aside critical thoughts. Being less judgmental of others will help you be less critical of yourself as well.