The term mindfulness is one of those words that brings up numerous and often contradictory connotations. For some mindfulness is about living in the moment, for others, it is linked to mediation practice, and for some, it is simply an overused pop-psychology phenomenon.
As with any concept that has gone mainstream, mindfulness has at times lost its way as to what it truly is and is not. Along with this comes the loss of fully understanding its benefits and applications.
When I work with both couples and individuals I like to bring mindfulness as a practice into the work that we are doing. Whether we are discussing being a trauma-informed partner, making peace with our bodies and learning to enjoy sexual touch from a partner or with a toy, or anything in between it all boils down to our awareness of what we are experiencing and what we want to do about it.
How Can Mindfulness Help My Sex Life?
Mindfulness becomes a perfect tool for overcoming sexual challenges because it does not prescribe external answers to our personal and internal struggles. Instead, it allows us to find our own answers and move deeper within our own minds and bodies to see things as they truly our from our inward perspective.
I love the quote, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” I think this framework is something that mindfulness can help us explore in a unique way.
In the bedroom, mindfulness helps us to slow our thoughts down so that we can uncover what we want, how we hope the touch of a partner or how the delightful vibrations of a toy will make us feel, and why certain feelings are coming up for us.
Mindfulness can be misused and then turn into obsessive analysis, so it is vital that when using it we are being asked to observe and acknowledge, not analyze and fix. For example, if I have anxiety about being honest about my sexual likes and dislikes, mindfulness allows me to notice when I’m saying something works for me disingenuously.
I can realize that hesitation or a pit in my stomach feeling tells me I need to share something else that is my actual truth. Mindfulness can also help us work through recognizing and naming what is causing feelings of fear to rise up.
When people say they are afraid I often tell them to walk me down the “what-if road.” Tell me exactly what would happen, in your worst nightmare, if you faced this fear. In the previously mentioned example, it might be that my partner wouldn’t accept me, that I’ll hurt their feelings or that I’ll be rejected.
The fears underneath these are often "I’ll be abandoned, I won’t be loved ever again, and I am not actually lovable for who I truly am." By mindfully identifying these fears and concerns we then can ask ourselves how likely they are to actually happen and if there is anything we can do to mitigate these risks.
Let’s say your partner does feel like it’s their fault you aren’t enjoying what they are, can you set up the conversation to help everyone feel safe emotionally and to alleviate some of that pressure? Now, what if you communicated everything in the best way possible, but things go terribly wrong and your worst fear is realized and you part ways?
Mindfully considering if there is truth to the idea that there is no other great match for you on a planet of eight billion people helps you realize that this belief is pretty far-fetched. By identifying, observing, and walking through our thoughts we come to realize what we think, what we need, and where truth lies.
How Can Mindfulness Help Improve Sex With My Partner?
For couples who are together for the long haul, mindfulness can help with one of the great sexual enhancers—remaining present. When we have built a lifetime connection with someone it is all too easy to be mentally in a dozen places when it comes time to be intimate.
As we are kissing we are running through our grocery list, while our clothes fall to the floor we think about how we need to mop, in the moments of sexual connection we are worrying about our last email from our boss. Sound familiar?
While these realities are not uncommon they are also not good for us. In the moments where we need the world to melt away, we hear our worries and distractions all the louder. This causes everything from our mental connection, to communication, and physical pleasure to decrease.
Instead, the next time these intrusive thoughts enter your mind, stop and take a breath. I find that verbally sharing my distraction helps both my partner and I recognize what is going on. It is then easier to talk through it and re-center on the pleasure and joy of the moment.
A Mindfulness Practice for You and Your Partner:
Here is a quick way to get started incorporating mindfulness into your solo or partner playtime, this can be done with a sex toy or with your bodies alone:
- Take a deep breath and notice your first sensation of touch.
- Begin touching in a sensual but non-sexual way. Lightly grazing your body apart from your most erogenous zones.
- Breath and notice how this feels. Have you lost your focus? Do you notice any hesitation? If you answer yes to either of these, take a step back and breath slowly and deeply into your belly and come back into your body in the present moment.
- Communicate any needs you have to increase your comfort.
- As you progress in touching your sexual body continue to do the same.
- In addition to breathing and staying present, notice things you might otherwise miss: smells, tastes, textures, the tone of moans, and other sexual sounds.
- Take your time and remember staying present means letting go of a goal-oriented experience. Instead of thinking of how to speed up or prolong orgasm, simply enjoy the journey you are on, whether partnered or solo.
To help connect with your body and learn what feels good to you in a mindful way, you may want to take some time with a toy that stimulates a few of your pleasure points. We recommend the new We-Vibe Nova 2.
A regular rabbit vibrator has a short clitoral vibrator "ear" which means it lifts off the sweet spot if you thrust the vibrator inside the vagina. This toy has solved that problem.
The Nova 2 has an elongated, flexible clitoral vibrator which means the good vibes don't stop, even when you choose to go deep. It's the perfect toy to help you stay mindful of the sensations your body is experiencing.
Mindfulness Helps You Stop Flying on Autopilot
In sexual spaces the increased awareness mindfulness provides allows us to stop experiencing sex on autopilot—whether that’s with a partner or sex toy (or both!). The more we can check-in and listen to our minds and bodies the better everything becomes.
Mindfulness in the bedroom or in any other area of our life can give us fresh insight and perspective on what is going on internally with ourselves so we can continue to grow, connect, and evolve.
Stay present and embrace everything that is happening right now, after all, it is all we ever really have.