This post is also available in: Nederlands English (Engels)
When I started the five-part series on gender, I told you that I’d come back and tie it into sexual mindfulness and great sex. I’m going to do that in this article so you can see how everything fits together.
Sexual mindfulness helps you be completely focused on the present moment whenever you are involved in a sexual situation. That could include solo sessions with yourself, encounters with a single partner, or group sex when multiple people are involved. All of these sexual situations start with your thoughts and feelings about yourself, your partner, and your sexual environment.
Any time you are ready to have any kind of sex, your mind churns out thoughts and feelings related to your sexual identity that can either contribute to your pleasure and enhanced sexual response or work against it. These thoughts and feelings start with biological sex issues. Self-talk like, “are my breasts too small, saggy, large, or of different size and shape?” “is my cock too small, large, too bent?” “is my hair too long, short, frizzy, cracked, split, thick, thin, grey?” “Am I too fat, thin, flabby, big, small?” “I wonder what they will think about my tits, cock, ass, teeth, hips?” You get the point. Think about how this kind of worrisome self-talk can set the stage for poor sexual response and unsatisfying sex.
Besides your biological sex, you also have thoughts and feelings about all of the other parts of your sexual identity. Your thoughts and feelings about your gender identity and gender role, sexual orientation and sexual behavior, and your sexual response are the starting point for bad sex, average sex, or great sex. They play a major role in how much you enjoy any sexual experience, whether it is solo, with one partner, or with multiple partners.
Take masturbating yourself as an example. Does your gender identity as a man, woman, both or neither include acceptance of self-pleasure? If not, does your self-talk about masturbation make it difficult for you to relax, be in the present moment, and enjoy the pure physical sensations of self-pleasure?
For men of my age (sixty plus) and my culture (Italian-American), jerking off is still considered immature sexual activity and less satisfying than intercourse. To admit to a peer that I still masturbate and enjoy it as much as intercourse would be frowned upon and viewed as a symptom of a “problem” with myself or my relationship with my wife. The mindset from my peers would be, “what is wrong with him that he has to jerk off at his age.”
It took me about 40 years to understand and stop buying into these gender identity messages and the unhelpful self-talk that came along with them. My sexual identity as a 68-year-old married man includes acceptance of masturbation as a satisfying sexual experience that is no less satisfying than oral sex or any type of intercourse. At this point, when I masturbate, my mind is not cluttered with troubling thoughts and painful emotions that it was for years and years growing up in my culture. I don’t consider myself to have a problem, nor do I think my masturbation reflects on my relationship with my wife. To me, it is just one of many pleasurable sexual experiences that I have at my disposal and can enjoy any time I want to.
As you can see from my example, sexual mindfulness begins with being more aware of what your mind is telling you about your biological sex, gender identity, gender role, sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual response. While this seems like an awful lot to be aware of, it really isn’t once you understand what gender identity really is and begin paying attention to your self-talk and feelings and start accepting them.
The next focal point of sexual mindfulness is your partner. What is your mind telling you about your partner? Are your thoughts and feelings about your partner positive and helpful, or are they negative and unhelpful? Do you have good feelings towards your partner, or do you harbor feelings of mistrust, jealousy, or even hate?
It is more difficult to relax and let sexual response flow when you have troubling thoughts and painful emotions related to your partner. Great sex flows out of being able to let your guard down and literally let the blood flow and cause your body to respond. Orgasm requires the same abandon and surrender. This is so much harder to accomplish when your mind is questioning, doubting, and fearing your partner.
The other part of sexual mindfulness and your partner is your ability to shift your focus off of yourself and your pleasure and onto your partner. When you are really being mindful of your partner, you relish in their ecstasy and pleasure as much as your own. Being attuned to how your actions affect your partner’s pleasure is a big part of sexual mindfulness. Research shows that it is hard to make that mental shift off of yourself and onto your partner’s pleasure if you harbor unhelpful thoughts and feelings towards them.
If you have multiple partners, these issues multiply simply because there are more people to be mindful of. Do you trust some or all of your partners? Are there some who you don’t trust, like, or feel safe around? How will this play out sexually if your mind is tracking these doubts and fears rather than being one hundred percent focused on the person you are with at the present moment? Do you need alcohol or drugs to deaden these feelings so you can stop your worry or fear?
The Context (Environment)
Your thoughts and feelings about time and place of where you have sex also impacts how things turn out. It is interesting to notice that the same helpful thoughts and positive emotions about yourself and your partner can suddenly change in a different context where you don’t feel safe or comfortable.
For example, imagine that you are polyamorous and have been having sex with two different guys other than your husband. You have great sex with your husband and the other two guys when you have sex in your home. You feel equally as comfortable with one of the other guys in his house, either when his wife is around or when it is just the two of you. With the third guy, however, things just don’t feel right at his house. You’re not sure what it is, but you just can’t seem to get comfortable, relax, and really let go at his place. While you have no problem coming when you have sex with this guy at your place, you really have a hard time having an orgasm at his house.
Sexual mindfulness training can help you become more aware of yourself, your partner(s), and the environments in which you have sex. Such information can help you understand the things that enhance your sexuality and lead to great sex and the things that turn you off. Armed with this awareness, you can make changes that allow you to truly relax, give up control, and enjoy even greater levels of sexual satisfaction.
In my next article, we will take a deeper dive into mindfulness to understand what it is really all about.