Do you ever feel too distracted or stressed to properly enjoy sex? Or find you keep thinking about work instead of focus on how great it is? Maybe you are so caught up in all that mental noise that you don’t even desire it in the first place?
Mindfulness is a practical way to improve emotional and sexual intimacy by making us aware of our bodies and bringing us into the present moment.
In this interview, I spoke with Nat Tencic from Triple J’s popular The Hook Up about what mindfulness is, why it turns up the volume on sexual pleasure, and how we can start having more mindful (and mind-blowing) sex.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply about bringing our full attention to whatever is occurring in the present moment. It is something we all do at times, and can also be trained through meditation and just by engaging our full attention with whatever we do in every moment.
One simple way to train mindfulness is to bring the attention to the breath and the sensations in the body. Just feeling what’s happening, without thinking about it or trying to change anything. That’s mindfulness. And it’s sex’s best friend.
Why is mindfulness important in sexuality?
When we are fully present, we can experience more pleasure. Anything we pay attention to is more intense – think of how fully you taste your food when you eat at an expensive restaurant! It’s because you just pay more attention to each bite.
Likewise, if we pay full attention to sex, we experience deeper connection with our own pleasure and with our partner. And this leads to more ease, and pretty mind-bowing orgasms.
Unfortunately, our minds have this annoying habit of not being present. We think about work, kids, chores, errands, friends. Basically everything except what is actually happening right in front of us.
In 2010, two researchers from Harvard named Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that the average person spends 50% of the time thinking about something else, rather than paying attention to what they are doing! Actually, they found that when people are having sex this drops to 20%, which is kind of a relief. But not really – that means 1 in every 5 times you have sex your partner (and, let’s face it, YOU) are looking up at the roof thinking about random things.
And of course it’s not just grocery shopping that we think about when we have sex. Many of us also worry about how we look, sound and perform. “Do I look good in this position? Am I making the right noises? Is he/she enjoying this? Is he/she bored? This isn’t how it looks in porn”. Etc. You know what I’m talking about!
These constant thoughts are normal, but Killingsworth and Gilbert found they make us less happy. And don’t make for the best lovemaking, do they?
Recall a beautiful sexual experience. How did you feel? Where you present in the moment?
Recall an unsatisfying sexual experience. How did you feel? Were you present?
See what I mean? When we are present, sex is just…better.
So what do we do about this? Well, step one on the journey toward more mindfulness is just to notice when we are not being mindful. Anytime we catch ourselves daydreaming or worrying, we are no longer fully lost in that mental noise. It’s literally like waking up out of a daydream. Then we are back in the present, focused on what we want to focus on (e.g. how nice our partner’s body feels). At least for a moment, and then we are gone again.
But if we practice noticing and coming back, over and over and over again, eventually we catch ourselves quicker. Eventually we learn that judging and criticising ourselves for getting distracted makes us feel bad – and is just more distraction anyway!
We can practice this using any of the senses as an anchor. People often focus on feeling the breath or the body to start out. But why not focus on how nice SEX feels? Surely that is an easier thing to pay attention to than just breathing!
Mindful Sex is sex in which we are present, with our body, mind, heart and spirit all in the same place at the same time. We bring our full self to the sexual encounter, and this is what makes it so electrifying. This is the basis of tantra, just in case you had heard that word and were wondering what it was.
And when we do this, we feel MORE PLEASURE.
In my interview with Nat, I share some tools and guide a simple exercise to help you connect with yourself and deepen your awareness and your pleasure. Listen to the interview and start having more mindful, mind-blowing sex.
The Hook Up Podcast: Fri 15 Mar 2019, 9:59am
Presenter: Nat Tencic
Producer: Lisa Divissi