Does this sound familiar?
101 things on my to-do list - Fatigued and pained - Too busy, Too tired - My scars are ugly - Hurry up or no that is not right.
Who has all this and far more going on in their head?
It’s all that distracts us during intimacy & sexual experiences. I make that distinction on purpose. There is an abundance of pleasure, connection & health benefits to be had in non-sexual, consensual touch. Being able to be mindful during those interactions is sexual self-care.
It is common during sex to tune out, let thoughts wander. These thoughts might be thinking about work, family to-do lists, or playing out an unrealistic idea of sex in our heads and judging ourselves as not being enough. Things like stress, relationship difficulties and overthinking a busy life make it more likely you will get into our head rather than staying connected to your body and your pleasure. The anxiety that can arise from all of this and more can create a fight/flight/freeze response when we are wanting to feel connected.
To counteract this tendency towards anxiety and fight/flight reactivity we need to find ways to maintain an emotional connection with others, even when under stress. By simply remaining present during mindful sex we minimize the activation of the fight/flight response. And by focusing on the connection we enable the release of oxytocin, which helps us to calm down, focus and maintain emotional connection rather than withdrawing or reacting.
Here are 5 tips to slow down and be more mindful during sex.
1. Focus on foreplay.
This is not about living up to some unrealistic expectations seen in a movie or in porn. It is taking time to sense the way your body feels, getting in touch with your physical and emotional state. Connect with your partner by giving or receiving a massage. Using a beautiful smelling organic massage oil can be a great way to connect with your senses, extend foreplay and connect with your partner. You can do this by meditating before you start but we know that is not for everybody so try focusing on your breathing.
2. Focus on your breath.
Feel your body against your partner’s, how warm and soft their body feels against yours. Breathe. Notice the effect this has on your own body. Breathe. It is ok to say to your partner something like, “That feels really good. I want to focus on what you are doing, breathe and see what comes next” and then focus on your breathing and the sensations and pleasure in your body, move naturally and see what comes next. Your partner will enjoy watching your reactions to what they are doing and whatever comes next. If you notice your mind wandering keep coming back, to your breath.
3. Focus on pleasure.
Notice what sensations are happening in your body. It is OK to notice thoughts but allow them to come and go. Notice how your body feels as you are touched and how your partner feels, how they respond when you touch them. Don’t overthink how your body reacts to a touch or a sensation just let it flow. Don’t worry about how you look only focus on sensations and pleasure. If you are focused on pleasure and allowing your body to react naturally no one else is going to notice anything other than how sexy you are. If you are focused on your partner's pleasure rather than how your butt looks to your partner will be in heaven and no one will be noticing your butt for any other reason than it is sexy. Some people find that wearing a blindfold can help them focus on sensations in their body more, don’t be afraid to experiment in this way. Toys like massagers can be fantastic ways to vary sensations. Massagers like the Lily 2 by Lelo are also lightly scented, great for allowing you not only to focus on the sensation of the massager but also activating your sense of small creating a stronger connection with your body.
4. It is OK to experience emotion.
Recognize that all emotions are normal parts of the human experience and serve a purpose, in life, during sex, even in mindful sex. Pleasurable emotions like love, joy, bliss, etc tell us that we like what we are experiencing. Unpleasant emotions like anger, fear or sadness tell us that our needs are not being met or that boundaries may have been breached. Being mindful of both the pleasurable and unpleasant emotions look after our mental and physical health and are an important part of mindful sex. Saying no if something is not right and feels bad for us is just as important as saying yes when something is good for us and feels fantastic. It is important to listen to our emotions and to communicate them with our partner.
5. Eyes wide open.
Not only the name of a bad Hollywood movie but a way of taking mindful sex to a higher level. You can even experiment with looking into your partner’s eyes during mindful sex. This can be hard to do even confronting for some people and that is OK. If you try it and it doesn’t work you can close your eyes or shift your gaze again. There is no need to force it. If it is something that interests you and your partner then don’t give up keep coming back to this and practice to develop the ability to maintain eye contact. It can be a way to amplify pleasure during sex.
If at any point during mindful sex you notice that you are reacting, closing down or tuning out, slow down (or even stop) and bring your attention back to your body and your breath. Tune in to your physical sensations, let go of any tension and notice your breath. Communicate with your partner and let them know what you are doing and what you need from them. Then, when you are ready, tune back in to your partner once again—feeling their body touching yours, looking at them (as well as into their eyes) as well as smelling, tasting and hearing them. All of these are ways of being more mindful during sex.