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Practising sex and mindfulness

This piece first appeared on PublicHouse.sg.

Have you heard the saying that sex can be a form of meditation? Annie Sprinkle, a performance artist and sexuality educator in the United States, combined the words masturbation and meditation to coin the word medabation. You, too, can practise mindful sex if you so desire. You may need to begin practising these concepts of mindfulness outside of the bedroom, before being able to proceed to have conscious sex.

First of all, what is meditation? Meditation happens simply when you acknowledge and observe whatever is happening – whether pleasant or unpleasant – in a relaxed manner. You probably already know that being relaxed and yet noticing what is happening to and around you, so as to respond accordingly, are key steps to having good sex.

These are the main components of being mindful:

Be in a natural state of mind

Your mind is relaxed and at peace. You are neither focusing too hard, nor trying to control your thoughts. There is no force or restriction imposed upon yourself. You are simply allowing your mind to be in its natural state of restfulness. How natural can you be if you are anxious about performance, or wrapped up in the inner dialogue in your head?

Be physically relaxed

It is not just about the mind. Your body should also be in a natural position and relaxed. Both the mind and the body should be comfortable. Bringing your attention gently to your breath is one way of centering yourself and allowing yourself to go into an even deeper state of relaxation.

Be aware

Being aware is not in trying to create anything, or rejecting what is happening. It is observing what the mind and body are experiencing. What are you thinking? What are you aware of? Where is the mind’s attention now? Inside? Or outside? It is not preventing thinking, but rather recognising and acknowledging thinking whenever it arises. This acknowledging allows thoughts to enter, and then drift away.

Be in the moment

It is about paying attention to the present moment, and not getting lost in the thoughts about the past or being carried away by thoughts about the future. It’s commonly called being in the moment or being in the present. Being truly in the moment – even somewhat engrossed in the now, where time seems to stand still – leads us to the next point of more easily letting go of expectations.

Let go of expectations

Do you want something during sex? Do you expect something specific to happen? Do you want something to stop happening? How do you think it will all pan out? During sex, we are so hard-wired and driven to take our partners or ourselves to climax that we may be, in effect, forcing a result. The effort to make the other person experience pleasure can actually create more anxiety and difficulties. Trust that the body knows what the body wants and allow the body and mind to go where it feels natural.

Letting go of expectations involves trying to know what is happening as it is. It is not about trying to make things turn out the way you want them to happen. There is no expectation, no want of anything, and no anxiety whatsoever. The result of wanting something or wanting something to happen will only be that you tire yourself out, and fail to experience what is actually happening.

One needs to be watching and waiting patiently with awareness, and not just about trying to experience something you want, have read, or heard about. A light and free mind tends to attain better results. Do you have the right attitude to have mindful sex? You can begin by practising sitting by yourself and practicing some of the above tips, and seeing if this makes a difference to the quality of your connection with your partner.

Dr Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), as well as certified sexologist with ACS (American College of Sexologists). She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia. For more, visit www.eroscoaching.com.

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