In early January we wrote about the trends in sex that experts predict are going to take off this year. One such trend was sexual mindfulness. This trend caught my attention, so I decided to chat with an expert on the topic to learn a little more.
To start, what is sexual mindfulness?
If you have even a basic understanding of the concept of mindfulness in general, you can probably figure out what sexual mindfulness is all about. But, in case you’re unsure, Rafe offered a simple definition.
“Sexual mindfulness refers to being present in the moment-to-moment experience of sex (whether solo or with others) and moving away from performative or goal-oriented sexual experiences,” she shared over email.
“It’s about acknowledging that sex is about the journey, rather than the destination, despite our traditional focus on orgasm as the goal of a sexual experience.”
Why is it important for a healthy sex life?
The concept of introducing mindfulness to your sexual interactions is all well and good, but why is it worth your time, really?
Well, if you’ve ever used mindfulness practices in your day-to-day life, you probably understand how centring and calming it can be. It also has an incredible way of making you more aware of the present, and the sensations your body is experiencing right now.
It’s pretty clear how that’s applicable to sex.
But Rafe has a long list of reasons she recommends sexual mindfulness so highly.
For one, it removes the pressure we tend to place on reaching orgasm.
“Focusing on moment-to-moment pleasure rather than performance supports us in learning more about what we like, want and need sensually and sexually, and reduces pressure on an end goal,” she explained.
It also “heightens the experience” by allowing us to tune into all of our senses. and our whole bodies “rather than just touch and genitals”.
In addition to all that, Rafe shared that sexual meditation offers space to explore different kinds of pleasure.
“The more we learn about our pleasure, the more our brain creates new neural pathways (we can call them pleasure pathways) and increases the likelihood of enjoyable and pleasurable sex in different locations, [and] positions,” she said.
And the list doesn’t end there. She also highlighted that mindfulness “helps us regulate our nervous system, allowing us to feel safe”; it allows for deeper connections with partners, and it supports a slower approach to desire – which is helpful to those experiencing low libido.
All in all, “it moves away from the traditional narrative that sex is all about performance, functionally driven and outcome-focused such as erection, penetration, orgasm and ejaculation. What we know is that functional and goal-driven sex is not aligned with the research on sexual and relational satisfaction, which focuses more on connection, safety, fun, and respect,” she shared.
So, yeah. There are a few benefits to sexual mindfulness. And it’s something anyone can try, but it’s especially useful for those who experience anxiety, orgasm difficulty or similar.
How to get started with sexual mindfulness
If you’re interested in giving this a go, Rafe has shared a simple guide to sexual mindfulness for both solo and partnered sex. She did highlight, however, that if you haven’t tried a general mindfulness practice before, it’s worth giving that a shot first.
The below can be attributed to Christine Rafe.
Solo sexual mindfulness tips:
- Set the intention of learning something new about your pleasure, rather than having an orgasm (which is also completely fine but might lead you to your conditioned touch practice).
- Bring attention to all of your senses, tuning in to what you see, smell, touch, taste and hear. For example, look at your body as you touch it, take deep breaths and allow yourself to sigh/moan etc as feels comfortable, and bring attention to what you hear.
- Start with 5 deep breaths, and slow touch over your whole body, bringing awareness to the types of touch and body locations that feel pleasurable. If it feels comfortable, move toward your genitals but maybe starting with touch on the pelvis, and inner thighs, circling the genitals, pressure etc., that isn’t straight to genital touch.
- Set a timer for 10+ mins, and use the time to explore either your body or genitals in a way that is curious, not focused on orgasm.
Partnered sexual mindfulness tips:
- Take turns massaging one another, with the receiver of touch giving instructions as to how they would like to be touched. As you are being touched, just pay attention to what it feels like in that moment, noticing whether it feels pleasurable or not, without immediately changing to something else.
- Incorporating temperature play, for example, an ice cube, and tuning in to what that feels like on different parts of your body.
- Discuss and agree with a partner to engage in genital touch that is non-penetrative, with no focus on erection, penetration, orgasm or ejaculation, and allow yourself permission to just receive pleasure without any end goal.
Tell me that doesn’t sound hot.
If you’re after more sex tips, check out some of our favourites from the past year here.
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