Someone asked me recently if mindfulness and sex are things that can go together.
My answer is yes, with a few qualifications.
While mindful self-pleasure can be incredible, for some of the reasons I detail below, many survivors feel that working directly with their sexuality, especially early on in the recovery process can be too much, too soon, too fast.
Its normal when you're healing trauma, to need a break from sex altogether. And, it's also normal to have a phase where you want to have all the sex possible. My point is, that if practicing mindful self-pleasure seems like way to much for now, that's totally normal. There are different tools for different stages of the sexual healing journey. Less direct ways of beginning a sexual healing journey can include learning how to resource safety, as well as exploring sensual (as opposed to sexual) pleasure.
All of that being said, if mindful self-pleasure sounds like something you're interested in, many benefits can be found from beginning this practice.
Mindfulness can promote greater body awareness which help you feel more fully and enjoy what you're experiencing. And, practicing mindfulness helps to settle the parts of your mind that get distracted, pulled out of or bored during sex.
So, what is mindfulness? To quote Jon Kabbat Zin,
“Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”
The impacts of bringing mindful attention into your sexual experiences can be profound. One reason for this is that pleasure, sensation, orgasm and connection can all feel deeper and more fulfilling the more present we are in the moment.
If you're feeling ready to incorporate mindfulness into your sexual experiences, self-pleasure can be the easiest place to start because it doesn't include the added complications of other people.
To start exploring mindful self-pleasure:
Set the intention to bring mindful attention to your self-pleasure practice by focusing on the sensations you are experiencing.
Notice when your mind gets pulled out of the moment.
Keep gently returning your attention to your body sensations, over and over, non-judgmentally.
Remember, mindful self-pleasure is a practice. It requires patience and self-compassion, especially at the beginning. Like any new habit you're forming, incorporating mindfulness into sex gets easier the more you practice.
Also, mindful sex doesn't mean that your mind is completely clear and you're not having any thoughts at all. Instead, bringing mindfulness into sex means that you're making a commitment to intentionally keep returning to the present moment throughout the duration of your experience.
Finally, just because you're being mindful doesn't mean you have to be serious. You can bring mindfulness to awkward moments, laughter and play!
Wishing you a fruitful exploration!
P.SIf you're interested in a deeper exploration of this topic I recommend the book Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Lori Brotto.