My partner and I had been together for twenty years when we finally sought help for the long-term discrepancy in desire between us. I simply didn’t want sex as often as he did. You know how you don’t want to go to the gym, but always feel good after the workout? Sex was like that for me. It just wasn’t something I had the innate desire to do.
My body was disconnected from sexual pleasure. Throughout my entire life, I heard messages from the world like “women don’t like sex” and “women who like sex are sluts.” Truth be told, guys don’t have it any easier. They are constantly asked to “be a man” and at the same time are receiving messages that they should not show their desire, because that could be creepy or predatory.
A great part of being an adult is that we get to choose which messages we want to believe, including messages about sexuality. However, just choosing to replace these messages with more permissive beliefs was not going to automatically reconnect my body with desire.
So the first thing I did was talk to my doctor. But my gynecologist was unable to offer a solution. So we started seeing a sex and relationship coach, and that’s when the real progress started. You might be reading this and saying: “What the heck is a sex coach?” Turns out, it’s this awesome person that you can spill your heart out to, who will then look at you and say, “That makes sense. Those are the beliefs you’ve been taught. But what do you actually believe? And based on that, what do you want to do about it?”
My answer to that question was that I believed, buried under the mountain of negative social messages I had heard my whole life, and my long and distracting to-do list which previously always seemed to take precedence over pleasure, that I was a human being with sexual needs and desires. And I wanted to connect with that part of myself. What happened next was life-changing for me, so I’d like to share how focused attention helped me learn to connect with my own sexual pleasure.
I affectionately call this mindful practice “Breathing Down to There.”
The goal of this practice is to connect your breath from your lungs all the way down to your pelvic floor. The first time I did this exercise, I couldn’t make the connection. However, after a few more tries, I began to notice some warm and tingly feelings in places that, as I mentioned earlier, seemingly had been on hiatus. It was as if through this practice I was giving myself permission (maybe for the first time ever!) to truly enjoy my own sexuality. Inviting my whole body to become more fully integrated into my overall awareness practice has not only increased my sexual desire, but given me a greater sense of overall well-being in life. Sound interesting? Try it out yourself:
- Take a few moments to get comfortable, either sitting up or lying down and then close your eyes.
- Spend a few minutes breathing into your chest, noticing your breath in your lungs and the spread of oxygen from your lungs to the far reaches of your body like your fingers and your toes. Placing a hand over your chest may help you be with your body.
- Then move your hand down to your belly and breathe there for a few minutes, noticing whether this is difficult or easy and any other emotions, sensations, or thoughts arise. As adults, we often tighten this area of our body unconsciously, so invite those muscles to relax with each inhale and exhale.
- Next, spend time breathing down to your genitals, once again observing your experiences without judgment. If you begin to feel warmth and pleasure, give yourself permission to acknowledge those feelings.
- Finally, bring your attention back to your whole body by feeling the outbreath from your belly for a few breaths and then from your lungs for a few breaths. If it feels right, take a moment to appreciate each part of your body before opening your eyes.
Each of us has a different set of sexual experiences and needs. When we feel disconnected from pleasure, simply bringing non-judgmental awareness to our bodies can help us clear away the baggage of cultural narratives. And in doing so, we can uncover our own unique sexual story and gain compassion for ourselves, wherever we are at in our sexual journey.