Top Questions of our Time Series: Sex
Slam bam thank you Ma’am or Mr.? That’s some people’s method and it works for those who mutually agree they want a quick fix. But for most people this is not the method of choice. So, why is it that this is so prevalent? The reason for this could be that American culture is simply not accepting of sexuality in general and that is why sexuality leeks into what many consider to be ‘shadow’ areas, such as pornography, strip clubs, and prostitution. Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of psychology, would definitely label sexuality as the shadow side of our culture. For most people who watch or visit these areas, it’s not something they discuss with their acquaintances or even their family and friends. In fact, the actual act of having sex with a person is not discussed too openly in our culture. Alfred Kinsey was one of the first and most famous people to openly discuss this cultural issue in public. Sure, sex is flashed in our faces on TV shows, movies, and advertisements, but few people actually openly discuss the act of having sex with another person.
For whatever reason that is, this is an article that is going to discuss one of the top questions of our time: What is a great way to have sex, even for those who are inhibited. I am going to explain a term, I am certain I am not the first to use it, or explain concepts like it, however, I have not seen the term before. That term is Mindful Sex. Mindful sex involves slightly slowing down in every aspect of the act of sex, from creating the setting, to the foreplay, to the actual act of sex, whatever you consider that to be. The following is the gist of it:
This part is not necessary if the act of sex is spontaneous in any given moment. If it is not spontaneous, sometimes it is a good idea to set the setting. When creating the setting, whether you are lighting candles, putting on music, or preparing special lingerie, moving slightly slower than you usually would. As you move slower begin to pay attention to your senses. If you are lighting candles, notice what you are lighting it with, is it a match, a lighter? Notice what the flame looks like, how it moves, does the candle have a smell, if so, take a moment to inhale it. If you are setting up special lingerie, take a moment to feel the lingerie. Is it made of silk? How does the silk feel? Are you spraying perfume/cologne on it? Take an extra moment to inhale that. You get the idea, with anything you are doing, move slightly slower and take a moment to pay attention to what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting. You do not need to think about any of this, just notice your sensations. If you notice you are thinking about something, notice that and then simply bring your attention back to what you are sensing. By moving slightly slower you have the opportunity to do this and in return make the process more meaningful and enjoyable.
Foreplay and Sex:
Some people consider foreplay to be sex, some consider intercourse to be sex. So I am putting them together because these ideas apply to both of them. There are many aspects to foreplay and sex and different people will have different variations on what they like. The tragedy of it all is that most people, having not felt free to discuss sex in public and they have only relied on what the media has influenced them to think about how sex should be. While they’ve had sex, they have never freely explored it on their own. Some people like to start out with oils and massage, some people like to start out with kissing all over the body, while others are into more fetish areas such as acting out a fantasy of being ruled over by a dominant figure of some kind (e.g., dominatrix). As far as fetish goes, this goes as far as our imagination can take us.
As you practice Mindful Sex you will give yourself the chance to discover what it is that you really like and you will begin to feel more comfortable communicating that to whomever you are having sex with, even if that person is yourself (i.e., masturbation). Here is the gist:
As you begin to practice mindful sex, it is important to remember one thing: Whatever it is that you are doing, do it slightly slower than usual. This does not mean go in slow motion, it means just go slightly slower than you would think to go. As you move slightly slower, you give yourself the opportunity to really be there in that moment and notice things that you may not have noticed. If you are giving a massage, you get to feel how the person’s skin actually feels, is there a scent to the oil? If so, inhale it. If the oil is edible, take an extra moment to lick it and truly taste it in your mouth. Look over your partner and take a moment to take in all the little nuances of the person’s body. By slightly slowing down, you also allow yourself to relax a bit, and this not only helps in making this a richer experience, but also helps reduce anxiety if that is an issue (e.g., being overly sensitive or premature ejaculation).
You can apply this in every moment of sex that you find yourself in. For example, when you are giving oral sex, go slightly slower and notice the smell and taste involved, feel the texture of the other person, is it soft/rough? What does the person’s vagina or penis look like? As you go slightly slower you’ll find that it is not so difficult to notice these things and it will draw you deeper into the experience and give you the gift that you have not been privy to experience in the past.
Ofcourse, you can apply this to intercourse as well. No matter your gender or sexual orientation, there is often some sort of sexual intercourse involved. It is important to let your partner know that you want to go slightly slower this time in whatever way you feel comfortable communicating that. As the intercourse begins, notice the sensations you are feeling. All parts of you are experiencing sensations from your head to your penis or vagina to your feet. If you find yourself thinking about something, notice that you are thinking about something and gently bring yourself back to your sensations. If you find yourself judging your self or the other person, just notice that you are judging and gently bring yourself back to your sensations.
Paying attention to your sensations may also broaden your horizons on things you want to do. Maybe you notice that while having intercourse that you are not tasting anything so you decide to taste your partner by kissing or licking him/her. Maybe you want to smell your partner more to bring in that sensation. Maybe you open your ears and begin to hear what the sex you are having sounds like. Maybe you’re now noticing for the first time what other areas of your body are being touched during intercourse besides your penis, vagina, or nipples. You might just discover an erotic area of your body that you had not noticed before (e.g., back of the knees, toes).
Having mindful sex is simply a teaching and a suggestion. If a spontaneous act of aggressive sex comes out and it is not a slightly slowed down process, than that is Ok too. This is simply an opportunity to broaden your awareness about yourself during the act of sex and deepening the richness of your experience. Of all things we have to experiment with on this planet, this is surely one of the top. So, responsibly, go off and try this out, have fun, and broaden your horizons! You may just find that sex is a far more sensual and sacred experience than you had previously imagined
Elisha Goldstein is a 4th year doctoral student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto. He is currently exploring how the cultivation of sacred moments in daily life affects well-being and stress. If you would consider participating in this invaluable study, please go to http://sacredmomentstudy.blogspot.com