A blue haze emerges from the darkness, softly illuminating a face. A body. Some small motion can be seen, the movement of pleasure. All while another’s digital pleasure cascades before blank eyes. A grunt, a small moan. The blue glow disappears in a snap.

Fade to black.

That’s a pretty bleak depiction of masturbation, right? This kind of situation could be considered the new “wham, bam, thank you, slam” as the 'bator’s device closes down. Is this how most people with penises envision self-pleasure? Maybe. But does this kind of event speak to the idea of self-love? And should masturbation be such a mechanical affair?

Of course, a fast and furious wank while enjoying your favorite titillating media might be exactly what you hope for in your masturbatory romps. And if it is, and you love it - good on you! Keep it up! You’re living your best sticky-fingered life.

However, this approach to masturbation can also be indicative of a wider societal concern. Surely anyone can experience this connection to their personal pleasure, but people with penises do seem to present the most routine relationship to their bodies.

How did we get into this situation?

Think back to all of the sitcoms and movies that depict penis masturbation. How are those scenes usually depicted? For the most part, guy gets caught, tries to cover up, slapstick comedy ensues and everybody gets a good laugh at this goofball wanker. On the other end of the spectrum, the other main depiction is that of an obsessed man stroking to a forbidden person or object with a menacing scowl on his face. Scary much?

As a society, we do not present a positive view of masturbation! Boys are mocked about it and they aren’t given space to talk about it. The stigma that still sticks to self-pleasure keeps it bound to fast moments, fleeting flashes of flesh and keeping a box of tissues handy. One of the most primal and instinctual pleasures and coping mechanism has been reduced to stolen moments and stolen feelings.

Can masturbation really be mindful?

As with any endeavor worth doing, if you want to bring masturbation back to a more evolved state, you’ve got to set your mind to it. This just might be a new way of thinking for many. That new approach could be mindfulness.

Psychology Today defines mindfulness as “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.”

For many, this type of thinking is completely contrary to our everyday existence. We live in a fast-paced, make-a-decision type of world that often revolves around obligation and necessity rather than desire. As a result, we rarely have the time, or even understanding, that moments and experiences are happening all around us, that our thoughts can focus more our present selves than the specifics.

The same can be said for our masturbation habits. Sure, most of us will still self-pleasure with the hope of achieving orgasm. Nothing wrong with that future planning! However, how we realize that orgasm, and what we think about along the way, can make a huge difference to just how fulfilling that orgasm can ultimately be - and not just in a physical sense.

Read: Giving and Gratitude: Is This What's Missing From Your Sex Life?

How can mindful masturbation work for people with penises?

Caitlin K. Roberts and Cosmo Meens of Happy Touch work with others to help them realize their best body potential and connection. They are currently running a challenge with 75 people who are looking to broaden their experience with mindful masturbation practices. They have seen people have many different reactions and experiences with the idea and techniques.

“[People’s feelings] can be anywhere from 'this is so hard I don't know why I'm doing this' to 'this has literally changed my entire life for the better,' Roberts says. “Everyone's experience is so unique! Overall, there's a lot of noticing how we typically don't create and set aside time for our pleasure and to be with our bodies and listen to what they need. “

Meens, who also works with The Apollo Project, is documenting his own participation in the challenge and logging his responses in a journal. As a person with a penis, his writing offers valuable insight into specific challenges. One of his recent posts explores the connection between a person’s individual mindful masturbation response and their connection with lovers or partners.

“This is not entirely new and I would say that only engaging in partner sex has at times separated me from this connection being deeply rooted in my being. My arousal, that is .... as something that is mine and that I share with my partner in sex but that is not created by engaging with them,” Meens said.

“When my body feels the expectation to perform or all the circumstances surrounding a partner choice are not in alignment or I’m not in alignment with my connection within myself, I find arousal sometimes hard to find. My body is like a tuning fork. When a 'fuck yes' is present my cock feels like a rocketship that might actually be able to lift me off the ground with its forward momentum. When I'm not aligned with my pleasure it can feel very disheartening when my cock simply says 'no'."

On a personal, body connection level, Meens' experience with sensation is a fascinating reflection on what mindful masturbation can do for an individual. This is not to say that everyone will experience the same thing. Everyone will have their own, unique relationship.

Also, let’s not paint an impression that mindful masturbation is primarily focused on deep introspection or challenging thoughts. Mindful masturbation is contemplative, yes, but it is also meant to deepen your connection to yourself and your world for the purpose of pleasure. And we can also see in Meens' writing a delightful immersion in sexual bliss. Here is a taste from his May 7th entry:

I can feel my orgasm starting in my right shoulder where it meets my neck and my cock wants it. Reaches for it as it crosses through my heart and down into my stomach. I flex and release my muscles to pause and move the sensation around. Letting it get to my pelvis and then stopping or slowing to hold it. So fucking delicious!

It's Your Turn

Meens might have a head start, but you too can explore mindfulness this #MasturbationMonth. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed and wondering where to start, Roberts recommends that people use the tools that work for them (porn, toys, fantasies) and build arousal around them.

Then, turn it off. Put that toy down, pause the porn, open your eyes and come back to the sensations in your body.

"What does it actually feel like to be in such deep pleasure? If THIS is the pinnacle of pleasure in your body, how can you make it EVEN BETTER?" Roberts says.

Actually, have you ever really asked yourself that question? According to Roberts, pleasure is a neurophysiological response that happens inside the body. If you want to get more mindful, start there. Come back to those sensations. Because if you aren't paying attention to that process, where are you really?