Have you ever had an orgasm while meditating? One of my students reports that her inner peace sometimes comes with a side dish of Oh My! She worried that she was weird, and asked “isn’t mindfulness about, well, the mind? Why do I get turned on?” As a sex therapist and meditation teacher, it drives me crazy that the topic of sex is so often avoided in discussions of mindfulness. And for the most part, if arousal is mentioned at all, it’s like a repeat of the bad advice we got in seventh-grade sex-ed class—sex is dirty, don’t think about it, nice meditators hang out in the mind, not the messy ole’ body. This leads to the confusion expressed by my student. But meditation is not meant to be a disconnected head-trip – it is about direct, embodied experience of what is occurring right now. And if right now you are making love, sexual pleasure can become a fabulous meditation object.
Sexuality is one of the only experiences where non-meditators naturally experience a calm, concentrated state of present-moment happiness. After all, mindfulness and making love are both practices of awareness. So imagine what can happen if you cultivate this awareness during sex? Quite simply, mindfulness can make you a better lover. In terms of sexual communion, we can practice leaving our head behind and becoming one with our breath and our lover’s breath, our heart and our lover’s heart, our body and our lover’s body. When we show up completely, fully present in intimate connection, we are having mindful sex.
Practicing mindful sex can enhance your relationship and sexual pleasure in several ways. First, emphasizing breath and connection creates a deep level of intimate contact. In our modern over-scheduled lives, we rarely stop and intently focus on our partner. When we do, our hearts open to profound love. We experience non-judgmental acceptance of each other as we are.
Second, the slow pace of mindful sex allows us to explore the vast sensual palette of bodies and minds. Surveys indicate that the average sexual encounter lasts an astonishingly quick 7 minutes—and that is from nudge, nudge, wink to snore. Not a lot of mindfulness there. When is the last time you caressed the back of your lovers’ knees, or nibbled on their left shoulder blade? Slow down, show up, and turn each other on in new ways.
Third, by practicing mindful sex we can develop sexual ecstasy that lingers. Did you know a typical orgasm lasts an average of 7 seconds for men and 20 seconds for women? As far as I’m concerned, they polled a bunch of underachievers. For both women and men, extended orgasms are possible. Hmm. Suddenly meditation got a whole lot more interesting, didn’t it?
Sex becomes a meditative experience when we deeply inhabit this moment together and meditation becomes a sexual experience when our senses are alive and blazing and our hearts are wide open. In this way, mindful sex is about compassion and awareness, whether we are making love with our partner or sitting on our cushion making love with the world.
Five Tips for Mindful Sex
Remember dating your partner? You chose sexy underwear in the hopes you’d make love tonight. You experimented with seduction and sexual techniques. You treasured your beloved. In other words, you made an effort. But now, many years later, sexuality may have become a neglected part of your relationship. If so, mindful sex can reconnect and heal. Whatever the past, begin again, right where you are. Treasure your beloved anew, honoring their mind, their heart, and their body. See them through fresh eyes, and trace their skin with today’s fingertips, here and now, for the very first time.
Start by recreating the delicious anticipation you used to feel about connecting sexually with your partner. Create an event. Prepare to tantalize each of your lover’s senses—perhaps lighting candles, playing music, and laying out warm scented massage oils, chocolate and berries and bubbles, and a scarf for blindfolding. Forethought is foreplay, so be mindful. Carefully plan for passion, and then let go into the present moment.
Begin by facing each other and gazing deeply into each others’ eyes. And yes, start with clothes on. It’s most powerful to focus on one eye; this keeps you intimately exposed (some people look back and forth between the two eyes to reduce the intensity but that’s cheating). Next, synchronize your breathing – breathe in together, exhale together. Then try breath exchange – you inhale when they exhale, you exhale when they inhale, as though you are breathing each other in and out. Feel the distractions settle, and the worries melt away. Really look, really see, and allow yourself to be seen.
Begin slowly, mindfully, undressing each other. Take turns. Slowly, ever so slowly, tease and arouse your lover’s whole body, eventually caressing their most sensitive parts. Invite them to sigh or moan, surrendering me into we, blending your touch with their sounds, no distinction, just this sensation. Bring them to the edge of orgasm, then back. Repeat. Reverse roles. Give, receive, exchange, and explore. See if you can drive each other wild with anticipation and then drop that tendency to reach for what comes next. Stop. Breathe. Relax into the direct experience.
With mindful sex, excitement and pleasure are just the beginning. The focus is on slowing down, staying in the moment, and allowing profound sexual and emotional merging. Instead of swooning away from your partner and into your own orgasm, you cultivate and sustain the sexual ecstasy. You then share the energy of your orgasm. To practice this, stay connected with your lover’s eyes and breath as you make love and approach orgasm. Just before the peak, focus on the impending waves of pleasure. As the orgasm waves begin to move through your lower body, stay present. Allow everything else to fall away except for your eye contact, your breathing, and your beating hearts.