Self-care has become commercialised in the recent past; there are endless products, apps and experiences out there for anything from mindfulness to gratitude practices, daily affirmation podcasts to conversation cards.
But one ‘act of self-care’ – mindfulness meditation – while only recently popular, has long been a practice used by people all over the world. But it hasn’t been until recently that research into its effectiveness in relation to sex was explored… and the findings have been remarkable.
If there’s one practice you can do, anywhere, consistently: it’s mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of bringing your awareness to the present moment and observing something like your thoughts, the space around you or your breath, as it happens and without judgement or the need to change it.
The real impact from mindfulness though, comes from consistency with the practice. It is an intentional, compassionate practice – something that most people find very difficult. Easy to be kind to others… much harder to be kind to ourselves. So mindfulness is a means of practicing kindness to ourselves. And it’s been scientifically proven to decrease stress, manage anxiety, improve mood, and yes, improve your sex life!
When it comes to sex, mindfulness seems like an odd practice that could make a difference for you in bed.
But here’s why you might need to take it up daily:
- Sex is all about letting go and “being in the moment”. We’re told this time and time again, and yet most of us struggle to get work/ the kids/ that comment from our friend out of our head. Just think about all the random stuff you’ve had pop into your head during sex! Mindfulness teaches us how to bring our mind back to the present – what we’re doing… being sex and possible connection with a partner.
- Our brain is our most important sex organ, and so if it’s full of thoughts that have nothing to do with what we’re doing or thinking of some arousing fantasy, it’s going to be really difficult to make the most of the pleasure that’s on offer.
- It helps us to stop, pause, and think… especially if we need to have conversations with our partner that make us uncomfortable, such as about sex. Mindfulness teaches us not attach to the difficult emotions but rather to just notice them, perhaps label them, and allow them to pass.
- It gets us out of our heads and into our bodies. It helps us to stop, pause and think about what we’re feeling and experiencing right then in the moment, rather than lying there thinking about what you should be doing or what’s to come. Noticing and observing pleasure in your body is going to get you far more from your sexual experience than if you are constantly worrying about how your body looks (mindfulness teaches you to notice these thoughts and allow them to pass like a cloud floats in the sky).
- Practicing together as a couple is an intimate, bonding exercise. Often if there’s anxiety in talking about sex or sex feels a bit stuck, it can be really helpful to practice some mindfulness together every day – you’re learning a new skill, which benefits you
- It lowers anxiety and can be a great stress management tool, and far too many of us experience anxiety or stress in relation to sex, or have difficulties sexually because of these experiences. The number one reason people are currently seeking therapy more than ever before is stress. And it’s impacting our sex lives just as much as our daily functioning.
If you’re new to mindfulness, I highly recommend starting with an app like Headspace or one that’s completely free, like Smiling Mind.
Then if you want to take your sexual experience to the next level, have a look at the app Ferly – a mindfulness sex app for womxn and couples that I recommend to every new client!
If you want to learn more, I have an amazing podcast episode on this very topic, with one of the most prolific people in the field. She’s the one behind the incredible, powerful evidence we have about mindfulness and sex. Check it out here.
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