Think of the last time you slept with your partner. Try to remember the experience in your mind at that moment, rather than your physical movements. Where was your mind as you looked into your partner’s eyes? You may have been thinking about a lot of things at that moment; whether or not you’re going to orgasm, whether your partner notices you’ve gained weight, whether you’re able to satisfy them, the mounting list of things you still need to get done today, a friend who’s having a problem in their life or if your kid in the next room can hear you or not… This list will only keep growing—if you let it.
Mindful awareness helps us focus on whatever we’re doing in that moment; it can therefore be a guide for you while you’re having sex, just as it can while you’re eating or taking a walk. Mindful sex is a topic that is discussed more and more these days as it has been identified as an essential way of overcoming problems with intimacy and enjoyment during sex. Even if you don’t feel that you have experienced any issues in your relationship until now, mindful sex is an effective way of savouring and enjoying your sex life even more. Being mindful while having sex can help you more fully experience your pleasure, your partner, and all of the emotions, sensations and thoughts that come with this experience.
To contribute to this conversation, we’ve reached out to Sexologist Rayka Kumru and Sexual Issues Activist Jessica Graham. Kumru describes mindful sex as “any sexual activity we take part in with our entire minds, hearts and bodies…”. Graham, a meditation teacher, sex, relationship and spirituality guide for individuals and couples, and author of Good Sex: Getting Off without Checking Out defined it similarly: “You don’t have to choose one outlook over the other. Just do what is real for you.”
Our minds can tend to get in between us and our partners when we’re having a sexual experience, especially if we’re in the later stages of a relationship. The overwhelming excitement and adrenaline we feel in the first few months of our relationship gives way to certain responsibilities. This doesn’t mean that our love or desire ends, it simply means that our minds begin prioritizing other things over sex. Graham mentioned that the couples that come to her for help are generally in long-term, committed relationships. She stressed that hot passion generally gives way to a calmer loyalty and that this transition is, in fact, rooted in biology: “Mindful sex can be a great help to us in this stage. It can help you to figure out what’s pleasurable for you, as well as discover new things. Besides, your sexuality and your sexual relationship with your partner always needs attention, just like a friend would. Think of how your relationship with a good friend would deteriorate if you never communicated.” Rayka stresses something similar about long term relationships and mindful sex: “The mind doesn’t really want someone new, it just wants something new.”
During our interview, we also asked Rayka for tips on having more mindful sex and she offered a couple of suggestions: “I think one of the most effective things is to take your time. Everything else in our lives are already so fast-paced. Another point is not to consider sex or sexual expression solely as sexual intercourse. Nudity, kissing, embracing, standing together, looking at each other, dancing, watching something erotic… All of these are sexual activities and ways in which we can express our sexuality. When we reduce sexual activity to just sexual intercourse we reduce it to two goals; penetration and ejaculation . We are more likely to be present and therefore enjoy sex if we are not racing towards a specific goal. Not being goal-oriented also prevents us from rushing because we have nowhere to, just some way to be.
Which brings me to a third key factor: touch. What popular media presents to us as “foreplay” once again makes us believe that the overall goal of sex is intercourse. Yet if we were to stay in the moment with each other and enjoy the sensations that come simply from touch, we would find the same, if not more, pleasurable stimulation than from physical unity. To add to this, Graham says that an individual must first be in contact with themselves and get to know their own body intimately, before being able to form more of an awareness with their partner during sex.
We also invited relationship mentors and influencers, Danny and Mara, to our conversation around mindful sex. During our interview with them, the couple stressed the importance of being yourself, independent of all conditions and creating a space where you value yourself. Danny and Mara affirmed that the first step we should take in nourishing intimacy and comfort with our partners is to begin connecting with ourselves. Accepting yourself without the need for validation begins to invite self-love and a language of love into our sex life. Making peace with what we see when we look in the mirror is the key to a truly great sexual experience.
A regular, intentional awareness practice will create positive changes in all areas of our lives, including our sexual experiences. As Sexologist Kumru puts it, “Everything that happens in a person’s life is connected. If you can’t be present when you’re at work and can’t concentrate, then odds are you’ll be thinking of work when you’re at home with your partner. The mind is a greedy thing; it jumps from one thing to the next and is constantly under bombardment, and thanks to technology, even when we’re in bed, we can remain distracted.” Awareness comes automatically with meditation, so do lower stress levels, a higher and more positive perception of the body, and higher levels of concentration, all of which positively impact our sexual experiences. Kumru adds that research consistently shows that when people are asked about their best sexual experiences, they talk about times when they were able to be in the moment with their partners.
Kumru also talks about something that could change the way we think about our relationships as well: “it’s not that our relationships become boring in time, it’s that there’s this feeling that our sexual lives will always remain the same and as exciting , even as our lives are rapidly changing.” Graham added to this saying that, “mindfulness practices give us the gift of revealing what we’re feeling and demanding. This attitude invites sincerity, the ability to empathize with our partner, which enables us to create memories will remember with a smile on our face.”
We’re leaving you with the websites of the people that we’ve spoken with about sexuality, which is a large part of our lives and composes the dynamic of our relationships, so that you can reap the benefit of their knowledge. Connect with your individuality with mindfulness.