Traditional sex education may provide some basic knowledge about anatomy and safe sex practices, but it falls short of the deeper understanding and connection we need to make sex satisfying and fulfilling. We all know that sex is an important part of human life, leading to pleasure and creating intimacy and love in relationships. However, it is not always easy to navigate the complexities of our sexual desires, especially when it comes to asking for what we want or communicating what we don’t want. For many of us, sex can be an experience of shame or guilt rather than pleasure and empowerment. But what if we approached sex as a mindful exercise?
What if we learned to listen to our bodies and confidently communicate our desires? This is where mindfulness can play an essential role in our sexual life.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of mindfulness in sex, including; tuning in and grounding down, finding what turns you on and off, asking for what you want, and building confidence and acceptance.
If you’re ready to explore the power of mindful sex, keep reading.
Tuning In and Grounding Down:
The first benefit of mindfulness is that it helps you tune in with your body, needs, and desires. Through this awareness, you can develop a deeper understanding of how your body, nervous system, and psychology work together. Mindful Sex is based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) modality developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, and adapted from thousands of years of teaching in Buddhist traditions
In a recent study, MBSR was shown to reduce anxiety, depression, rumination/worry, and improve quality of life (Querstret, et. al, 2020). Through a regular practice of being present in the moment and identifying how you react, you can begin to have an easier time navigating through your emotional and physical responses.
What Turns You On and Off:
Furthermore, mindful sex can clarify what you like and don’t like. By paying attention to your body’s responses, sensations, and emotions, you can discover what turns you on and off. As Emily Nagoski wrote in her seminal work, Come as You Are, understanding your turn-ons and turn-offs is essential to developing greater sexual awareness (Nagoski, 2015). This process is not about judgment or comparison but rather curiosity and exploration. When you take a mindful approach to sex, you can notice what feels pleasurable and what feels uncomfortable.
You can then use this information to communicate your desires and boundaries to your partner. For example, you might find that you enjoy a certain touch or type of stimulation or realize that certain positions or words are triggering for you. Whatever your discoveries, they can help you become a more authentic and empowered sexual being.
Through this increased awareness and acceptance, you can create the foundation to take the next step in communicating this to your partner(s). This may sound scary or nerve-wracking, but sometimes change can be a frightening experience.
Ask for What You Want:
The third benefit of mindful sex is that it teaches you to ask for what you want and hear others’ feedback. Many of us struggle with communication in sex because we feel ashamed or embarrassed to express our desires or limits. Mindful sex, however, is all about open and non-judgmental communication. By tuning into your needs and preferences, you can learn how to articulate them to your partner without fear of rejection or ridicule. Additionally, you can also learn how to listen to your partner’s needs and preferences and incorporate them into your sexual encounters. This two-way communication can lead to greater intimacy, trust, and satisfaction.
Increased Confidence and Acceptance:
The fourth benefit of mindful sex is increasing your confidence and acceptance. By becoming more familiar with your body and desires, you can feel more comfortable and confident in expressing them. This can lead to a more profound sense of self-love and acceptance and a greater appreciation for your partner’s uniqueness. In a recent study with female-identified folks with sexual dysfunction issues, they found that Mindfulness “led to improvement in subjectively evaluated arousal and desire, sexual satisfaction, and a reduction of fear linked with sexual activity” (Jaderek & Lew-Starowicz, 2019).
Take a moment to imagine that you are confidently asking for what you want, whether you get it or not. How does that feel? To avoid hedging or not immediately undercutting your request? How would it be to confidently hear someone’s “no” as their boundary and not a rejection of you?
Mindful sex also invites you to let go of judgment, shame, and guilt, and instead embrace the present moment with curiosity and openness. When you practice mindful sex, you are practicing self-compassion and self-care, which can lead to a more fulfilling and joyful life overall.
Mindful sex is not just about “getting off” or pleasing your partner. It’s about discovering the power and potential of your sexuality and using it to feel more connected with yourself. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, there’s always room for growth and exploration in your sexual journey.
Jaderek, I., & Lew-Starowicz, M. (2019). A systematic review on mindfulness meditation–based interventions for sexual dysfunctions. The journal of sexual medicine, 16(10), 1581-1596.
Nagoski, E. (2015). Come as you are. Simon & Schuster.
Querstret, D., Morison, L., Dickinson, S., Cropley, M., & John, M. (2020). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for psychological health and well-being in nonclinical samples: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Stress Management, 27(4), 394.