My journey into mindful mediation started in my early 20s.
Combining a few meditation approaches with a life-long habit of self-reflection, my understanding of mindfulness grew and evolved.
I explored different types of mindfulness practices and noticed how each affected my life.
Some worked better for me than others.
But there is one mindfulness practice that transformed my life so completely that it ended up becoming my passion.
This is the practice of mindful sex.
All of my mindfulness teachers have repeatedly mentioned that mindfulness doesn’t end at the meditation cushion. I experimented with different moving meditations and understood perfectly well that bringing that mindfulness into everyday activities is one of the most potent ways to bring acceptance and loving-kindness into my life.
Yet I somehow managed to compartmentalize sex from my life.
Sex was just this thing that I did with my partner (or by myself, mind you), and I viewed it as an activity that needs to be kept apart from everything else.
I needed a prompt wake-up call before I understood that sex is as good as any place in my life in which to practice mindfulness.
Embracing mindfulness into sex started only once I realized that my sex life is a source of grief and discomfort.
It’s not just that it was not enjoyable — like I believed it should be — there was also an invisible cloud of shame and embarrassment around everything that had to do with sex. A veil I didn’t quite notice at the time, that made it uncomfortable to approach.
As soon as I started practicing mindful sex, the veil lifted.
At some stage, it became clear to me that I kept sex in a dark corner of my mind. And mindfulness shone a light on sex to make it a wholehearted experience.
Sex became innocent, uplifting, and increasingly enjoyable.
I experienced many benefits from practicing mindful sex. And as I started writing about it and teaching it, I feel confident to share what I noticed, both for myself and for my readers and clients.
Finding peace in your body’s increasing sensitivity.
In our society’s representation of sex, there’s a strong emphasis on penetration and on orgasm.
For many people, including researchers at the forefront of sexual studies like this one, sex starts with penetration and ends with male ejaculation.
Everything before or after is not considered of essence.
However, when it comes to mindful sex, like any other mindful practice, the journey is as important as the goal — sometimes even more so.
We focus on every step of the way, without striving for an outcome. Every sensation is as important as another. A climax is not more valuable than anything leading to it, nor does it mark the end of the sexual session.
Many sensations and emotions come into play throughout the encounter, some intense, some subtle, some pleasant, some not-so-pleasant.
And staying present with these gives rise to our body’s fine-tuning its ability to notice even the more indistinct and elusive of sensations.
Instead of needing more and more sensational creativity to make our sex experience more exciting, we enhance our sensitivity, and we find joy in the little things.
We realize that we don’t need to chase an explosive climax: we can simply relax and have an energizing, profound experience that requires no effort.
Healing past hurts.
When we practice mindful sex, we are moving with increased awareness into areas of our body that at times tend to hold a lot of tension.
Whether it is due to being excited or nervous, or due to past trauma, bringing our full awareness into our body and progressing mindfully is comparable to some forms of body oriented psychotherapy, which is gaining traction as an effective method for healing many psychological disorders.
For me personally, practicing mindful sex has helped to eradicate the shame and embarrassment that I had harbored around the topic of sex. And for some of the people I worked with, who had previous negative sexual experiences, bringing mindfulness into sex had further helped them release strong emotions that stemmed from their past experiences.
Deepening of connections.
I often claim that mindful sex is a game-changer.
It is so completely different from the messages about sex that are found all around us in mainstream narratives, that it allows us to deeply explore who we are as sexual beings, and present the most authentic self, time and time again.
We don’t need to confine ourselves into pre-determined boxes that define who we are sexually if they are unhelpful.
We don’t need to perform for anyone else’s satisfaction.
We don’t need to look a certain way or behave in a certain way in order to find pleasure in ourselves and in our partner.
The only thing we need to do is to remember our mindfulness and do it to the best of our ability at any given moment.
As we come to sex as authentic and as vulnerable as we can be, our relationship deepens. It enhances our connection to ourselves, to our body, and to our partner.
How to bring mindfulness into your sex practice.
There are a few approaches one can take in order to move into a more mindful sex practice.
Similar to your meditation practice, when you most probably tried a few different ones before realizing which one works best for you personally, it’s a good idea to experiment to find out what works best for you. And as you practice with a partner, you’ll have to find a practice that works for you as a couple.
And same as for any spiritual teaching, if you come across anyone that claims that the practice they teach is the best one — don’t believe them. It might be the best for you, but it might not be. Your role is to try and see for yourself.
I ended up developing my own mindful sex practice that works for me.
Here I want to share with you the common principles that govern most, if not all, mindful sex approaches. And I do as best I can with my own practice to keep these principles.
Upholding a vision of sex that matches our personal values.
When it comes to sex, the way I see it, mindfulness includes not just the way I have sex — it also includes the way I communicate about sex.
Mindfulness is about bringing compassion, kindness, and acceptance into our lives.
Whenever I speak or write about sex, I do my best to paint a picture that projects these values.
This picture is of sex that is equal, straightforward, transparent, and loving. There is no room in this picture for judgment about the way enthusiastically consenting adults practice sex.
The emphasis is less on the “what” as it is on the “how”.
Having regular mindful sex dates.
It’s too easy to forget and just have sex with my partner whenever and however.
But I aim for a slow, mindful, long mindful sex session once a week.
We decide in advance when to have this “date”, and we make sure to set aside at least two hours for it.
We dedicate this time to mindful physical connection.
We have no rules as to what we might do, but we make sure we maintain our mindfulness for as long as we possibly can.
Steering clear of excitement.
Excitement is what we normally seek when we have sex.
However, excitement can easily get us distracted and lead us into striving for some climax instead of keeping us focused on the here and now.
And when practicing mindful sex, it is best to avoid the excitement altogether.
Instead of excitement, we bring ourselves to a state of relaxed arousal.
This is attained by genital touch that is not overly stimulating.
For example, resting a hand on your breasts without moving.
Or cupping the palm of your hand over your genitals for a few moments.
While staying in stillness, we can focus on our breath, or quietly share with each other how we feel, and which sensations are arising within us.
We might feel signs of arousal in our bodies, or we might not.
Whatever happens, we keep observing and accepting.
Slow, mindful movements.
When we move quickly, two things tend to happen.
First, it makes it harder to stay focused on any mindful practice.
If you ever practiced a moving mediation, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
Second, when we move quickly, excitement might start to build up, which can diverge our attention and shift it into wanting a climax, abandoning the mindful sex idea altogether.
Slow movements help when we want to keep away from getting excited.
Slow movements include slowing down pretty much everything we normally do during sex.
As slow as we can go.
If we get easily distracted from being mindful, this means we went too fast.
Penetration is optional only.
If bodies are ready, and partners are willing, we attempt penetration while maintaining our mindfulness.
A powerful slow-sex practice is bringing the genitals to touch. At times, penetration will gradually occur by itself. Without anyone pushing or trying to do anything intentionally.
At times, it’s nice to go ahead with penetration and gently go with the flow.
At other times, no penetration will happen, and we will still feel immensely satisfied.
Coming back to mindfulness.
Like any other mediation practice, at times our mind is absent. All of a sudden, we notice that our thoughts have gone somewhere all by themselves and we don’t even know how long it was. The best attitude is to calmly bring our mindfulness back without beating ourselves up for not being perfect yet.
It can happen during sex, too.
We suddenly notice we are going with the motions and mindfulness is nowhere to be found.
If that happens, we can decide to go back into stillness.
Or, we can bring our awareness to where we are, and consciously decide to chase our sexual climax.
In my personal practice, I find that switching into a more conventional sex practice after a long session of slow, mindful sex, still carries immense benefits and feels preciously connecting and fulfilling.
This is important to understand, especially if your partner is not as keen as you are about mindful sex, and they still want to experience a climax whenever they have sex.
Should you try mindful sex?
When I started my mindful sex journey, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
I wanted the entire world to know that if they only practice mindful sex, the world will be a better place.
But after years of promoting it, I came to realize that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Some people don’t enjoy it. Others might not experience those benefits from mindful sex that I listed.
And that’s totally fine.
We are all different.
But if you read this article all the way to this point, chances are you feel curious and want to give it a go.
My suggestion is, as any other mediation and/or spiritual practice, don’t believe me.
Try it for yourself, and see if what you read here is true for you or not.
At the end of the day, the measure of any mindfulness practice — whether it be mindful sex or any other — is how better your life becomes from practicing it.