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Sexual Mindfulness: How to be more present during sex

Victoria Scott - 19 August 2021

Good evening,

It is unfortunate that sex education is never is high up on the school curriculum, you've probably encountered an awkward lesson with your teacher fumbling to explain the mechanics behind sex, but you're never really taught about how to feel pleasure.

Instead the majority of people learn about pleasurable side of sex through it's portrayal in films, TV and porn. These platforms leave viewers with an unrealistic view of sex, where characters seamlessly rip each others clothes off and end up climaxing simultaneously.

These "ideal" depictions set the standards of "what should happen" during sex, and lead us to compete with a fantasy that doesn't exist, so that when you body doesn't behave how you would expect it to, you end up stuck in your head.

If you have found yourself unfocused, overthinking or trying really hard to reach a specific result, then you are not alone. 30% of women experience anxiety before sex and 92% have reported not feeling present during sex.

Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex

Sexual distractions

The root of sexual distraction can take many forms, from negative thoughts and worries about performance and appearance to external concerns like uncompleted chores or your phone ringing suddenly. Factors like these make it difficult to concentrate on touch and pleasure.

Not feeling present can also be a defence mechanism for people who want to protect themselves from emotional or physical pain. This is also known as a dissociative disorder, and is sometimes described as an 'out of body' experience. If you feel like this is something you're experiencing, getting help and support is an important part of the recovery process and we advise you to talk to someone you trust or seek medical support.

It can be frustrating not being able to enjoy the moment and it can have an impact on the pleasure you feel. One way to feel more present is to approach sex differently, viewing it as a journey rather than an end goal with focus on curiosity and exploration. This can be achieved by practising sexual mindfulness.

Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about paying more attention to the present moment, free from all judgement. It is easy to lose touch with our bodies and live in our heads - and when we do get stuck in our heads we often fail to notice how those thoughts affect our emotions and behaviour.

The theory of mindfulness is that it is better to fully experience what is going on as the event unfolds without jumping forward in time to label, judge and worry, or jump backwards to compare or feel remorse.

Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex

How mindfulness can help mental and sexual well-being

The practice of mindfulness can help improve your mental well-being in all areas of your life. Meditations apps such as headspace believe that learning how to live in the moment can help with productivity, build trust in yourself and help find joy in everything you do.

An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with your body and the sensations it experiences, taking notice of small things such as the sounds outside or the way grass feels between your fingers.

Because mindfulness is interlinked with how our body it can also improve sexual health as well. It can help you focus on the moment without "spectatoring,". Spectatoring is a term coined by Masters and Johnson in 1970 and is essentially the opposite of mindfulness, it is when people cognitively evaluate themselves during sex, worrying about their arousal, pleasure and performance. From this study, a technique called Sensate focus has emerged and is still recommended by sex therapists today. Sensate focus is a practice of touching and being touched and involves these 5 stages.

Through practicing mindfulness you can: discover what types of touch you enjoy the most, become more in tune with your body in the moment, reduce self judgement and understand both you and your partner's needs.

Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex

How to be more present during sex

Firstly, it is important to remember that moments of distraction are normal and aren't something you should be ashamed of and you shouldn't put pressure on yourself to be present all the time.

But if you do want to experiment with ways to feel more present during sex, the best way to begin is by identifying the factors that are frequently distracting you, once you know what these are you can communicate them to your partner or therapist to find a suitable solution.

The main tools for tackling sexual distractions are good sex and pleasure education, challenging cognitive habits and practising mindfulness.

Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex

7 ways to be more present during intimacy

Here are some exercises and possible solutions I have put together to help you become more present during sex.

Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex

  1. Understand your sexual needs

    Understanding your own sexual needs can help you be more present during sex. The better you know yourself the more confident you will feel in the bedroom, that is why I always recommend solo play! But it's not just knowing what touch you like but also respecting your sex drive, and giving yourself enough time to warm up with foreplay. Once you understand your sexual needs you can communicate them with your partner.


    Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex
  2. Create a sanctuary

    If you find yourself worrying about your to-do list or cleaning the house, consider preparing your bedroom beforehand, decluttering and creating a safe space for you to relax can help you leave any nagging thoughts behind in the outside world. Similarly, you can introduce a digital detox by banning all phones in the bedroom!

    Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex
  3. Ground yourself

    Grounding techniques can be helpful if you experience dissociation, if you narrate what's going on in your head, or even out loud to your partner it can help you focus on what is happening in the moment. Or alternatively you can focus on your breath.


    Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex

  4. Challenge cognitive habits

    "Spectatoring" and negative thoughts during sex can be challenging to get rid of. They can emerge from pressurising expectations, unwarranted fears and cognitive distortions.

    It helps if you become aware that the sex you see on the screen is unrealistic and you're probably mixing up sex myths for facts. It is also always good to challenge the negative thoughts that pop in your head, remind yourself that every time you have sex doesn't have to be amazing, and it's not the end of the world if things aren't as romantic as you like.

    Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex
  5. Focus on only one sense

    If you feel overwhelmed during sex you can channel your focus onto only one sense, not just touch - paying attention to different senses, such as your breathing, can allow you to have a more conscious experience. If you choose to focus on touch you can try the 5 steps of sensate focus. And if you want to practice mindfulness outside of the bedroom meditation can help teach you to be more in the moment.

    Sexual-Mindfulness-How-to-be-more-present-during-sex
  6. Forget about the orgasm

    This might sound crazy, but if you stop focusing on an 'end goal' and remove orgasming from the conversation you can focus on what you're feeling in the moment. This can remove a lot of pressure and stop people from faking orgasms. If sex has to have a "goal" it should be pleasure not an orgasm.


    Sexual Mindfulness - How to be more present during sex
  7. Try something new

    If your sex life has got stuck into the same routine, it might be time to spice things up a little to keep you more engaged. You can try a new position, a change of scenery or you could even introduce some sex toys into the mix.

Time to live in the moment!

Like anything worth waiting for, practising mindfulness can take time but can make a massive impact on your sexual and mental well-being. Let me know what technique works best for you.

Lovingly,

Victoria xoxo

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