You can build sexual mindfulness through formal and informal training activities. Formal mindfulness training is a structured program of daily meditation practice. There are countless ways to teach people how to meditate. I teach mindfulness meditation in three steps:
- Diaphragmatic Breathing Training
- Breath Meditation Training
- Mindfulness Meditation Training
In this non-threatening way you learn about the breath first, then apply that knowledge to learn how to meditate while focusing on the breath. Lastly, it sets the stage for learning mindfulness meditation. Starting beginners with mindfulness meditation is a surefire prescription for failure. It is simply too difficult for most people to jump right into mindfulness meditation practice and succeed.
Informal mindfulness training revolves around using simple exercises and activities that apply to being more mindful of everyday experiences. When you apply this to sexual mindfulness, all of the activities relate to sex. I incorporate the following sexual activities in my book, audio, collection, and training course; mindful foot and back massage, mindful oral sex (for him and her), mindful masturbation (for him and her), and sex as a gourmet meal.
Both formal and informal mindfulness training use exercises and activities that focus on your internal and external environments. Your internal environment relates to what is going on in your body and mind in the present moment. This environment includes your thoughts, self-talk, mental images, and your feelings. It also includes all body sensations. Your external environment relates to your behavior and physical surroundings. Becoming more aware of your external environment revolves around increasing your awareness of your behavior and what’s going on in your immediate physical surroundings.
Your Sexual Identity
From a Sexual Mindfulness perspective, the most important component of your internal environment is your sexual identity. I always discuss gender within the context of sexual identity so it isn’t viewed as the be-all and end-all of your sexuality. Your sexual identity is the comprehensive term used to describe how you see yourself and behave as a sexual person.
Your sexual identity has six dimensions:
- your biological sex/gender
- your gender identity
- your gender role
- your sexual orientation
- your sexual behavior
- your sexual response.
All six of these parts combine to form a picture of how you see yourself and behave as a sexual person.
One way to view these parts is to look at them as 5 different continuums. To a certain extent, these continuums are fluid and change over the course of your life. Some are more fluid than others.
Male Intersex ______ Female
Gender Continuum (Gender Identity & Gender Role)
Masculine Transgender__________ Feminine
Sexual Orientation Continuum
Heterosexual Bisexual _____ Homosexual
Sexual Behavior Continuum
Not Interested Average Interest Very Interested
Sexual Response Continuum
Not Responsive Average Response Very Responsive
For example, your biological continuum is determined by your chromosomes (XX or XY) and your genetic inheritance from your biological parents. Your chromosomes and genetic inheritance determine things such as your biological sex/gender (male, female, intersex, other), internal and external sex organs, hormone type and levels, and your physical characteristics (body size, shape, hair, and eye color, skin pigmentation, etc). These biological factors are fixed at conception and can only be changed through medical, surgical, or cosmetic interventions.
I don’t want to politicize this or make any moral judgments about it. What you make of these biologically-determined outcomes and how they influence the path you choose in life is your business. The important thing is for you to understand the components and what your mind is telling you about them.
Unlike your biological continuum, the other continuums are more fluid.
Your gender continuum is very fluid and changes over the course of your life. How you see yourself (and act) as a man, woman, both, or neither, changes as you age, grow, mature, and gain sexual and relationship experience. For many people, the same holds true for their sexual orientation continuum. While the overwhelming percentage of people retain their initial sexual orientation throughout their lives, it is no longer unusual to hear of men or women in their adulthood, mid-life, or older adulthood becoming attracted to a member of the same, opposite, or both sexes. In some cases, they repressed these desires for decades and tried to conform to society’s norms. In others, the spark of desire was more spontaneous.
Your sexual behavior continuum also is very fluid. Your level of sexual desire will wax and wane over the course of your lifetime. Your sexual behavior repertoire will grow and change as you mature, enter into sexual relationships, and face or no longer face challenges associated with pregnancy and STD prevention issues.
Lastly, your sexual response continuum is very fluid. Sexual response is the result of a complex interplay between your body, mind, and spirit. Becoming aroused and achieving orgasm are intimately related to your thoughts, feelings, physical health, mental well-being, and a host of other variables. These variables and others vary for each sexual encounter and change over time as a result of the aging process. For example, to expect that you will respond in your 70s the same way that you did in your 20s is a sure-fire formula for being dissatisfied with your sexual response.
How Your Sexual Identity Relates to Sexual Mindfulness
The most important thing about your sexual identity is being aware of what your mind is telling you about the six dimensions. Are the messages your mind tells you helping you and contributing to your increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction? Or, are the messages hurting you and contributing to your dissatisfaction with sex?
How you see yourself as a sexual person is a key component of your overall satisfaction with sex. It influences every stage of the sexual response cycle; desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, and satisfaction. This is why a big part of Sexual Mindfulness training involves spending time increasing your awareness of each of the seven dimensions of your sexual identity. Being able to step back and observe what your mind is telling you about your sexual identity is the first step in liberating yourself from troubling thoughts, negative self-talk, and painful mental images and emotions that keep you stuck in a sexual rut.
In my next article, I’ll talk a little about how your mind works when thinking about sex.
Reference: Blonna, R., (2019) Sexual Mindfulness: Getting the Most Out of Your Sex Life Through Moment-by-Moment Awareness. Apocryphile Press