Sexual mindfulness helps you spice up intimacy with your partner

What is Sexual Mindfulness?

Sex is so much more than simple biology—it's how we form a physical and emotional connection with our partners. That being said—do you ever feel like you're just going through the motions when having sex with your partner? You adore them and find them infinitely sexy, but you're tired, stressed out or distracted, and sometimes you're not present during sex.

So, how can we overcome the hurdle of distracted minds to be fully present? Cue in mindful, connected sex. It's a source of overall health, happiness, gratification, stress release and possibly even better orgasms—for you and your partner!

Let's read on to learn how a mindful approach might just be the ticket to blissful, magical and mind-blowing sex.

What is mindful sex?

Simply put, sexual mindfulness is remaining present during sex. It involves compassion and no judgment of the entire experience. And believe me, I get it. Being mindful while you're standing naked and vulnerable in front of another person is difficult! But when you practice mindful sex, it becomes an experience of primal connectivity with your partner—it's more than just the orgasm.

Mainly, mindful sexuality fosters intimate moments, opens your heart, promotes closeness and secures attachments. Being intimate with your partner also help you feel more comfortable in your own skin because it creates a safe place for you to be completely yourself.

Practicing mindful sex is a reciprocal relationship, in more than one way! For one, it involves reciprocation of pleasure between you and your partner. But it's also reciprocal within your own body: maintaining a satisfying sex life also contributes to your physical and mental well-being. Mindful sex enables better emotional regulation and intentional behavior. This can lead to increased self-esteem, sexual desire and relationship satisfaction.

What are the benefits of mindful sex?

  1. More (or better) orgasms:

    A 2021 study of mixed-sex married couples found that women had more consistent orgasms when they felt a deeper emotional connection with their husbands during sex.
  2. Relationship goals:

    Enjoying the process of mutually exploring one another's bodies is in and of itself a benefit that will deepen your relationship emotionally as well as physically. This is because mindful sex will help you cultivate emotional safety and trust with your partner. During mindful sex, you are compassionately attending the whole experience as it manifests itself in the present (in every aspect of your day).
  3. Mind-body connection:

    research has shown that anatomic changes occur in the brains of people with daily mindfulness practices like meditation, particularly the area of the brain linked to emotional regulation. And yes, mindful sex counts!
  4. Feel-good neurotransmitters:

    Intimacy has a way of firing up your "happy hormones," particularly oxytocin, the "love hormone." During mindful sex, you can also experience increased pleasure during the release of one of the "feel good" brain chemicals dopamine. It helps you level up from good sex to great sex!
  5. Sexual confidence:

    Mindful sex can promote your level of desire and sexual function, which may make you, in turn, more comfortable about sex and more confident about your own sexuality.
  6. Self-love:

    You may discover that sexual mindfulness with your partner can improve the connection you have with yourself. As you come to understand your own needs and communicate them to your partner with more ease, this self-advocacy may reverberate into other parts of your life—from your friendships to your career.

Isn’t all sex "mindful"?

If sex is on your mind, isn't that "mindful"? Not quite! During mindful sex, perceptible, positive energy occurs between two emotionally present people, creating intimacy. On the other hand, sex without this intimacy may be physically pleasurable (or not), but it can leave us feeling lonely and unsatisfied. This can be the case whether the partner is someone you don't know very well, or a spouse you love with all of your heart.

Of course, sex can be on a continuum, somewhere between "mindless" and "mindful." But why not shoot for the stars? If increasing intimacy and pleasure is your goal, the good news is that it doesn't require exotic positions or toys to take your bedroom experience to the next level! All it takes is freeing your mind, and letting down your guard.

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How to have mindful sex: 8 tips

When it comes to mindful sex, the biggest obstacle is a wandering mind! "Tuning out" while you think about other things—your grocery list, your body shape, what's for dinner—happens to us all, and yes, it can occur smack in the middle of a sexual experience. But you don't have to take a wandering mind laying down (pun intended). Here are eight tips to help you bring mindfulness into your sex life.

  1. Engage all your senses:

    Set the stage with soothing music, dim lighting (bring out the candles!), eat together—enjoy some sexy snacks—talk, touch, kiss, smell, linger… Communication is about asking questions and listening to understand each other. Listen with your whole heart, and let the sensual energy guide you both.
  2. Stay in the present:

    When you notice you're distracted, that's the best time to do a body scan and return to the present moment. It's super easy to become sidetracked thinking about your to-do list. Bringing your attention back to the present moment, and not engage with distractions, is essential to have mindful sex. Focus on the physical sensations of each moment—relish the exquisite feeling of their skin on yours, as you explore each other's arousal and sexual desires; it'll give you the tools to bring yourself back to the present experience.
  3. Be mindful about everything—not just sex:

    Daily meditation is the best way to strengthen your ability to pay attention, especially during times of stress and vulnerability. Even if you don't take time for formal meditation, you can practice mindfulness in just about everything you do. For example, you can deploy the technique of mindful or intuitive eating to become more aware of the taste and texture of foods and to listen to your body for when it's time to stop eating (which is usually before you clean your plate). And just taking a moment when you're walking outside to become aware of the way the air feels against your skin, to literally stop and smell the roses, is good practice for the bedroom! After all, sexual mindfulness is about learning to notice what's happening within your body and mind.
  4. Move over, judgment!

    Judgement has no place in the bedroom when you practice mindful sex. Set aside expectations for what an ideal encounter should look like—and that includes your body and your partner's. Your sex life isn't always picture-perfect, but there's magic in making every sexual encounter a pleasurable one—enjoying each other exactly as you are. A healthy sexual relationship is about paying attention to whatever happens during sex and accepting things exactly as they are.
  5. Practice intimacy daily with your partner:

    This doesn't mean daily sex (although it could), but spending time every day being affectionate and present with one another, even if it's just holding hands or brushing a stray hair out of their eyes, will do wonders for your sexual health. Just like physical exercise, sexual mindfulness requires practice and consistency. And trust me, while practice may not lead to perfection, when you are attuned to your partner, the quality of your shared pleasure will be significantly enhanced.
  6. Move on after not-so-mindful sex:

    Unremarkable sex can sometimes occur as a consequence of ruts routines. When you and your partner are having difficulties being intimate, it can lead to you feeling a sense of failure, insecurity or disappointment—but don't let it! Instead, break the pattern and slow down. Use this opportunity to act like you're getting to know each other once again. Hug and hold each other; caress each other's skin; savor each other's taste and smell; explore each other's bodies thoughtfully. Slowly appreciate each other for the physical and emotional pleasure that it brings, not just as the means to an orgasm. Try holding off as long as possible on penetration—don't underestimate foreplay, it helps you be present.
  7. Be gentle with yourself and your partner:

    Remember, good sex fluctuates depending on the day or even the minute. Your body is not always a perfect, well-oiled sex machine. You may not always be able to sustain an erection or produce adequate lubrication. Because busy thoughts may bring unwanted feelings into the bedroom, try to react to them as neutrally as possible, then bring yourself back into the present. Practicing sexual mindfulness will help you overcome negative thoughts and reactions, so they don't draw you away from the experience.
  8. Treat your body like the temple that it is!

    It's easier to love your partner when you love yourself—from head to toe. And sexual health is tied to the little things we do daily. So, building sustainable daily habits that support our healthiest self are also crucial to having a healthy sex life. In addition to eating balanced, nutrient-rich meals (think the Mediterranean diet), prioritizing uninterrupted sleep, regular exercise and managing stress, you can add dietary supplements to support healthy blood flow (in and out of the bedroom)—all of which contribute to quality chemistry in the bedroom.

Meeting of the Minds: Talking to Your Partner About Sex

Let's admit it: sex is hard to talk about! We all struggle. But an essential part of practicing mindful sex is communication. When you can have open, honest communication with your partner about your sexual connection, you'll both feel loved and cared for. It helps you rise above issues surrounding low self-esteem, negativity or inhibitions—leading to satisfying and pleasurable sex.

Give it a try. Usually, you'll find that you are met with genuine open-heartedness and support. Heartfelt communication breaks the barrier of insecurity. Allow yourself to experience whatever arises in your body (or thoughts) and talk to your partner about it. While thoughtful discussions of sexual pleasure and preferences with an open heart and mind are challenging, with practice, you learn to reduce the hair-raising emotional charge of difficult conversations surrounding sex.

When you don't feel judged by your partner (or yourself), communication becomes more accessible, and on the flipside, talking about sex with your partner helps you become a better listener. Remember: you are in this together.

The joy of mindful sex

Sex can make you feel vulnerable: it puts your heart out on a limb. A wandering mind may be your body's way of avoiding the scariness of being intimate with your lover. But when you learn to stop overthinking and listen to your body, you can re-establish connectedness and trust with your partner—and bonus! More intense orgasms.

Be curious. Make things more comfortable and exciting by speaking up, being compassionate and showing up to the experience without expectations (or judgment). You won't regret it.

About the Author: Krista Elkins has 20 years of experience in healthcare, both as a paramedic (NRP) and registered nurse (RN). She has worked on both ground and helicopter ambulances (CCP-C, CFRN), and in ER, ICU, primary care, psychiatric, and wilderness medicine. She practices and has a devoted life-long interest in preventative medicine. She is a conscientious, research-driven writer who cares about accuracy and ethics.