What Is Mindful Sex?
The first thing you’re probably wondering is, “what is mindful sex?” and you wouldn’t be the only one whose curiosity has been peaked. With the rise of mindfulness in Western culture, more and more people are turning to this newfound way of approaching sex. And can you blame them? After all, research shows that it actually leads to better sex - that’s more than enough encouragement for us!
Mindful sex, most simply put, is the practice of fully immersing your mind and your body in the same moment in time. Put even more simply, it is the opposite of mindless sex. Mindless sex happens when, instead of being fully present during the experience, your attention is elsewhere and you might be lost in thought.
Who Is Mindful Sex For?
This point cannot be made strongly enough - mindful sex is for anyone and everyone. While all people can benefit from bringing more mindfulness into their sexual encounters, there are certain individuals who could especially benefit from doing so.
Pregnancy and early parenthood
For instance, pregnant couples and couples who just recently had a baby are two groups of people who might find physical intimacy with their partner difficult given their recent circumstances. Research shows that pregnant couples and couples who just recently gave birth are often fraught with insecurities surrounding their sex life, which can lead to a lack of intimacy or less pleasurable sexual experiences.
Luckily, mindful sex is the perfect antidote to these common issues faced by couples who are about to have or have just had a baby. Since mindful sex encourages both partners to get in touch with their bodies and to become present in the moment, it helps the couple to avoid getting lost in thoughts.
Not just for couples.
Mindful sex isn’t just for couples, though. In fact, mindful sex is an excellent practice to try alone and can lead to feelings of empowerment and comfort in and with one’s own body. So while mindful sex can be the magic elixir for couples, it’s also a wonderful practice to experiment with if you’re single, enjoy masturbation, or if your partner is often away.
So if you’re not already sold and eager to try it out yourself, keep reading for the 5 big reasons you should explore mindful sex - either with or without a partner.
1. Increases Sexual Arousal
Perhaps the biggest component of mindfulness is awareness or, becoming more aware of not only the world around you but also your inner world. Based on a study done at Brown University to measure the effect of mindfulness on sexual arousal, women who engaged in a formal mindfulness practice were able to feel “more aroused, more quickly.”
From this, we can deduce that being more mindfully aware helps you to tap into the feelings of arousal you’re experiencing during a sexual encounter. Compare this to less mindful sex, where you’re much more likely to drift off into distraction and miss out on the subtleties of the physical touch.
2. Lessens Physical Pain
Unfortunately, pain during sex can be a very real issue for many women, especially those who have just given birth. Couple these feelings of physical discomfort with a head full of possible insecurity and distraction, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
According to Today’s Parent and Baharak Amir-Wornell, a Halifax OB/GYN and pelvic-floor surgeon, “it’s not uncommon for women who have recently given birth to experience anxiety and discomfort during sex.” So if that’s you, you’re not alone!
Fortunately, mindfulness has been shown to be an excellent tool to manage physical pain in any capacity, and that’s no different when it comes to pain related to sex. In one of the earliest studies conducted on mindfulness and its relation to pain, results indicated, “significant reductions in measures of present-moment pain, negative body image, and inhibition of activity by pain.”
These three results are especially useful for those who experience some pain during sex because mindfulness addresses both the physical and mental woes. However, it’s essential that, if you’re experiencing any pain during sex, know that even though it may be common it is not "normal". We recommend you first speak with a women’s health physician. Clare Bourne is one of our particular favorites and she is super knowledgable about all things post-baby sex.
3. Sleep Better
It might come as no surprise to you that there’s an inherent connection between healthy sex life and a healthy sleep life. But what is that connection, you ask?
While the exact connection between sex and sleep is still being researched, current studies show that the “the chemicals released during sex may help you sleep better.” The chemical release they’re referring to here is the infamous oxytocin, aka, “the love hormone.”
So, when you engage in mindful sex, you experience more pleasurable, less distracted sex. And by doing so, you release oxytocin which indirectly leads to better slumber.
Sleep deprivation can take a significant toll on one’s sex life. That’s part of the reason why a healthy sex life is so important! Not only for the obvious reasons, but it can also help you sleep better. When you have a more restful sleep, that then improves your sex life further.
Moral of the story? Sex and sleep truly share an interdependent relationship.. And by doing so, you release oxytocin which indirectly leads to better slumber because it enhances mood, feelings of well-being, and releases stress.
4. Fosters A Deeper Connection
Whether you’re coupled or flying solo, mindful sex is a surefire way to build intimacy and foster a deeper connection.
When it comes to having sex with your partner, mindful sex gives you both the opportunity to bring your true selves to the experience. Through these moments of sexual awareness with one another, an intimate bond is formed. By creating this bond, you encourage a sexual environment that supports trust, openness, and compassion - three major components to a successful partnership.
But can it work alone? Of course, it can! In fact, it might be in your best interest to first explore the sexual relationship you have with yourself prior to exploring it with your significant other.
By engaging in mindful self-love through masturbation, you get in touch with your inner-most needs and desires thus, forming a deeper connection with yourself. This kind of self-awareness and level of wholeness naturally translates to coupled sex as well.
5. Boost Body Confidence
While all women struggle with feeling fully confident with her body from time to time, this can be an especially challenging issue for new mamas. After all, your body just went through a lot and it might not look or feel exactly the same as it did prior to having your little one. Let us be the first to say, that’s perfectly okay! And we know it might be hard to believe at first, but your body is absolutely perfect exactly the way it is in this moment.
Believe that seemingly simple fact - that your body is exactly the way it should be at this moment in time - does wonders for body confidence. The key to believing this concept is at the heart of mantra or positive affirmation, two aspects of certain mindfulness practices.
Positive affirmations have been proven to help us take ownership of the narrative we hold about ourselves. Listening to and repeating positive affirmations prior to sex is a great way to take hold of the narrative you tell yourself about your body. If you’re up for it, try silently repeating to yourself or even chanting out loud a few of the following phrases the next time you’re about to get it on:
“My body is a sanctuary and is perfect exactly how it is.”
“I have full control over my body and I own each sensation.”
“I love my body and everything it does for me.”
Part of what complicates sex for many of us is our overthinking it. So, when considering exploring mindful sex might seem like a chore. It might even make you see sex as more complicated. But there’s great news. Like we said earlier, mindful sex is for anyone and for everyone, meaning it’s extremely accessible.
How to explore mindful sex
There are a ton of ways that you can explore mindful sex.
Something as simple as gazing into your partner’s eyes for a few moments is one way to begin your journey into mindful sex.
If you have any familiarity with general mindfulness or meditation practices, you can also call upon that experience to help you along. For instance, you can engage in a grounding meditation, becoming aware of each of your five senses, prior to partnered or solo sex as a way to initiate the experience from a place of full awareness.
Of course, there’s also audio-erotica, our particular favorite way to enter into the world of mindful sex. By listening to these sultry stories and passages, you’re guided step-by-step on the many ways you can explore and engage in mindful sex - with or without your partner.
Listening to a mindful sex meditation is the perfect, most accessible way to get a feel for the practice. Not to mention, our audio is 100% free and you can listen anywhere in the world!
Ultimately, the way you approach sex should be the way you approach life - mindfully and with intention.
In addition to everything we mentioned here, let’s not forget that mindful sex also has the potential to seriously elevate our mood. Bring to mind that warm, buzzy feeling we get after we’ve had awesome sex - and let’s be honest, we can all use a little more of that!
So although it might sound scary to think of starting something new, keep in mind all the wonderful benefits that can come from beginning this new, sexual adventure.