In my second article in this series, I talked briefly about formal and informal mindfulness training. In this article, I want to explain formal mindfulness training in greater detail and then spend the rest of the series on informal sexual mindfulness training activities. As I briefly mentioned in my second article, Formal Mindfulness Training involves daily breath meditation.
In my opinion, meditating on a regular basis has been the single greatest thing that I have done to reduce my stress and enhance my sexual response. I meditate 3-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes. I usually bicycle down to the beach at sunrise three times a week, run three miles, and then meditate for 30 minutes as the sun comes up. I really enjoy the solitude of running on the beach at sunrise and then meditating.
I find this to be an especially sensual practice that involves all of my senses. I love the sounds of the surf and shorebirds and the sight of the sun casting an orange glow over the Gulf of Mexico as it rises up behind me. The gentle warm breezes caress my body as I sink into the sand and meditate. If I lick my lips, I can taste the salt that is carried by the surf and the mist rising off of the beach. Focusing on this sensual delight is part of my formal mindful practice and serves me well in the bedroom with my wife.
What is Breath Meditation
Meditation is about paying attention, on purpose, to what is going on in the present moment. When you practice breath meditation you deepen your attention and awareness by focusing on your breathing. During meditation, you direct all of your attention to a single focal point, your breathing.
When your mind gets distracted, you merely note the distraction and then redirect your attention back to your breathing.
Breath meditation does not involve thinking about your breathing or trying to figure out whether you are doing it right.
Instead, breath meditation involves simply noticing and paying attention to your breath and what is going on in your diaphragm, lungs, and chest as you breathe in and out.
When you practice breath meditation it helps to visualize the passage of air as it enters and leaves your body. “Watching” the air travel in, around, and out of your nose, throat, and lungs makes it easier to stay focused and use your breath as the focal point in your meditation.
When I teach this to folks, I explain that they should give themselves three to four months of regular practice to have it become a habit, and part of their lifestyle. I start them with 5 minutes the first week and then add 2 minutes each week until they hit 20, the minimum time needed to achieve the benefits of regular practice. When you can meditate comfortably for 20 minutes you can maintain your practice at that level forever or increase by adding 2 minutes each week until you reach your desired level.
With a few months’ practice, you will find that you can slow your breathing down and stay focused on it for most of your session. At that point, you are ready to use your meditative powers to give your partner your undivided attention when making love.
Instructions for Breath Meditation
1. Prepare to spend 5-20 minutes of uninterrupted activity (find a quiet place where you can be alone and turn off all electronic devices).
2. Wear comfortable clothing such as yoga pants or sweats and a t-shirt.
3. Remove your shoes or sneakers.
4. Sit comfortably on a straight-backed chair or on the floor.
- If you sit on a chair keep your legs uncrossed with your feet resting comfortably on the floor and your hands resting gently in your lap.
- If you sit on the floor you should sit on a cushion that raises your buttocks off the ground slightly, allowing your legs to rest comfortably on the floor or padded mat.
5. Fold your hands comfortably on your lap or let each hand rest on a knee, palms facing up.
6. Sit up straight with your head, neck, and back in alignment.
7. Focus your attention on your current breathing pattern.
8. Make a mental note of the depth, pace, and regularity of your breathing.
9. Visualize a picture of your lungs and your diaphragm.
10. Slowly breathe in through your nose.
11. Notice the feeling in your nose as the air passes through it and enters your lungs.
12. Feel your belly move out as your diaphragm pushes down against it.
13. As you breathe in through your nose, visualize your lungs inflating completely, starting from the bottom (the part closest to your diaphragm) and moving upward.
14. Let your ribs expand and shoulders gently rise as your lungs inflate.
15. Notice the feeling in the muscles of your rib and shoulders cage as you fill your lungs slowly and completely.
16. When you have filled your lungs, pause for a couple of seconds and notice what that feels like.
17. Slowly exhale through your nose as you feel your belly push back and your diaphragm rises back into place.
18. Notice the feeling in the muscles of your rib and shoulders cage as you empty your lungs slowly and completely.
19. Visualize your lungs emptying completely as your lungs deflate.
20. As you continue to breathe in and out this way, pay attention to your thoughts and re-direct them back to your breathing when they drift.
- You might find that saying “in” as you inhale and “out” as you exhale makes it easier to keep your focus on your breathing.
- You could also try counting the seconds it takes to inhale and exhale as a way to stay focused on your breathing.
21. When your thoughts stray from your breathing, do not get upset at yourself.
- Simply note that this has happened and then refocus on your breathing and the words “in” and “out” or your counting.
22. Continue breathing this way for at least 5-20 minutes depending upon how far along you are in your training.
23. As you continue to meditate notice the sensations in your environment. Notice the sounds, sights, aromas, and sensations around you. Don’t think about them or try to analyze them, just notice their presence and then get back to focusing on your breathing.
In my next article, we’ll begin a deep dive into informal mindfulness training using your sexual behavior with yourself and your partner as the focal point.
Dr. Rich has found that most people in long-term sexual relationships get stuck in a rut because of troubling thoughts, painful emotions, and unhelpful self-talk about their sexual relationships. The key to overcoming this and getting unstuck is developing greater psychological flexibility. His new book, audio collection, and Sexual Mindfulness course will show you how to use powerful, but easy-to-master mindfulness techniques that will unleash the power of your sexual mind.
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