Can’t get your mind in the game? How to relax and be present in sex.
Sex is enhanced when you can relax and be fully engaged in each moment. Stress, anxiety, fears and distractions diminish your access to pleasure and connection with your partner and what you are doing together. It’s important to learn to relax, slow down, and just take in the breadth of your experience. This includes the subtlety of the physical sensations you are having in all of your body, the thoughts and feelings you are having while doing it, and the awareness of your partner and their experience as well. Learning to minimize those things that pull you out of your experience will increase your sexual experience.
Learning to slow down and pay attention is a good skill to have in all areas of life, and it is very important for good sex and for a sense of connection with your partner. Can you tell what your body is feeling? Can you feel your sensations? Are you aware of the emotions that you are having? Can you identify your thoughts and recognize that that’s all they are? Can you just “be”?
Develop a mindfulness practice in your own life.
Whether you learn to meditate or whether you develop the habit of sitting quietly and just noticing what is happening for you, in your mind, body and emotions, you can get better at being present and aware of just the moment. Set aside 10 minutes a day to quiet yourself, sit with what’s happening in your mind and body, and breathe to relax. Let go of judgements and thoughts; just let them pass through your mind without attaching to them. Scan your body slowly, head to toe, to see what sensations you can identify.
Let go of worries and expectations.
Through your mindfulness practice, you will likely get to know the thoughts that keep you distracted from your experience. For many people, these include worries, doubt and self-judgement. Many of these negative thoughts arise because we believe we aren’t meeting expectations. It’s important to see what your negative thoughts are, and then you need to try to let those go. Sometimes therapy is helpful in working through those beliefs and releasing them. Sometimes talking it out with friends will help. Journaling can be a place to explore them. Affirmations can help replace the negative messages with positive ones. Your negative beliefs and judgements will get in the way of your enjoyment and presence in sex, so do whatever it takes to tackle them and move them out of the way.
Use a mindfulness exercise with your partner.
It can help to practice presence with your partner, and there are exercises you can do to that end. One tool is eye gazing, done for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Sit in chairs, facing each other. Adjust the distance between your chairs so that your eyes can focus on each other. Sit with your feel flat on the floor and relax. Hold your gaze on your partner’s left eye (to your right). Let yourself just be in this experience; there is no need to mask what you’re thinking or feeling. Notice how your body feels, what emotions come up, and what sensory experiences you have. Let go of any judgment you have about what’s happening for you or what might seem to be happening for your partner. This is a good practice for letting yourself be seen as well as just being in the moment.
Once you have some comfort holding each other’s gazes, you can add an element of synchronizing your breathing. Begin by breathing in and out at the same time, so that you both draw breath in together. Once you’ve aligned your breathing together, switch to alternate breathing: when your partner breathes in, you breathe out, and vice versa. Keep your body relaxed and your breathing slow.
Show up with what you’ve got and practice letting things go once you’re there.
If relaxing and being present is a struggle for you, you’re going to feel distracted or worried when you attempt any of these ideas. That’s okay. Part of learning to relax and be mindful is to show up and try it. You will gradually get better at leaving things at the door and letting go. That’s the whole idea of a practice – you need to do it regularly to get better at it. Don’t judge your success by any one attempt. Keep showing up, no matter your mood or your state of mind, and see if you can make progress becoming present in the moment. Your worry about how you’re feeling is just one more level of distraction from the current experience.
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