“Mindfulness” is a hot wellness buzzword that seems to promise improvements in all areas of life. But what is mindfulness, what’s the relationship between mindfulness and sex, and how can you practice better mindfulness in your sex life? Let’s dive in.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware, focused, and fully present in the moment that’s happening right now. It can involve feeling your feelings and any sensations your body is undergoing without judging them as good or bad – simply experiencing them. According to Psychology Today, practicing mindfulness can reduce anxiety, depression, and pain; help you cope with uncomfortable emotions; and help you relax.
What Does Mindfulness Do to Your Sex Life?
Those states are all benefits to healthy relationships and a good sex life. “Sex and mindfulness meditation are both practices in which you are encouraged to break away from daily activities, connect with the body and with the present moment. Clearing the mind of anxieties, worries, and to-do lists is also recommended for both these activities,” writes physical therapist Heather Jeffcoat at Feminia.
Jeffcoat goes on to note that research across several studies has found links between mindfulness and greater sexual desire, arousal, lubrication (for people with vaginas), easier orgasms, higher sexual satisfaction, lower pelvic floor dysfunction, and improvement in sexual function around erections (for people with penises).
Mindfulness Tips for a Better Sex Life
So what does a mindfulness practice look like, and how can you use it for a better sex life?
To get better at mindfulness in the bedroom, start by getting better at it outside the bedroom: The best and most important way to build mindfulness into your sex life is to build it into all areas of your life.
“Being present is a skill that requires practice, and it’s usually easier to make the space for that practice when you’re not naked with another person,” writes therapist Vanessa Marin at Lifehacker. Marin recommends meditation apps, such as Headspace – which even has a meditation specific to pre-date anxiety – as a way to start to learn how to meditate, since even ten minutes of meditation per day can help you build a skillset you can use anywhere, including during sex.
Reduce distractions...: Whether noisy thoughts, a visually noisy and cluttered space, or a loud and auditorily noisy environment, external distractions can take many forms. You won’t be able to eliminate all of them, but you can reduce them by figuring out what distracts you most and removing it. Excited to have sex and super present with your partner until you notice the pile of laundry and start going over your to-do list? Put the laundry and other mess or clutter away – and in case it needs to be said, do so before you start having sex. Or take up a “brain dump” practice where you spend 15 minutes a day writing out every distracting thought or to-do item rattling around in your brain so you don’t have to think about them anymore. Distracted by streetscape sounds? Try putting on some music – or if that’s distracting, too, a white noise machine to drown out the street (or kids in another room) – to make the space feel more private.
... and be flexible when they pop up anyway: Even if you do your best to eliminate internal and external distractions, they’ll still pop up now and again. When that happens, you can choose to let them make you less present in the moment, or you can use them as a way to practice bringing your focus back to your body and partner. Make note of the distraction, but rather than getting frustrated or feeling negatively about it, try to simply observe that it’s there before returning your attention to the moment. Think of it like you would if you were sitting outdoors in the sun reading a favorite book, and then noticed a hummingbird flitting by – you’d notice the hummingbird, and then go back to your book. Do the same during sex.
Bring your attention back to your breath: No matter what else is going on, your breath is a constant to which you can continually return your focus. Practice beyond the bedroom first by sitting or lounging in a comfortable position, setting a timer for five minutes, and simply keeping your attention on your beath as you inhale and exhale. Be forgiving of yourself when your mind wanders – just gently return your focus to your breath. Once you’ve gotten used to using the sensation of breathing to ground yourself when you’re alone, begin to incorporate it into your sex life by taking a deep breath when you feel yourself get distracted so you can return to your body and the sensations it’s experiencing.