I’ve been doing a lot of reading of various articles, books and blogs on all things pertaining to sexuality and relationships.
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be compiling some of my favorites, re-examining them in a new light and re-structuring them so you have a sampling of different perspectives on various relevant topics by experts in the field. This week, I’m inspired by the mind and body-conscious Jaiya Ma, an award-winning sexologist, author of Red Hot Touch and founder of New World Sex Education .
Jaiya Ma celebrates sex and believes that it isn’t something you do; it’s a human birthright.
I revisited some of her 2013 articles on Mindful Sex, and really love the practical way Jaiya sums it up with three easily digestible principles that can ultimately help you and your partner reach a new level of sex consciousness:
1. Attention to Pleasure
Just as Attention in Buddhist meditation can help center you, Attention in the bedroom can also create a centering effect, allowing you to focus on the sensual act at hand and not on all the stressors in your life. Being in your own head takes you out of the present moment so you’re unable to fully pleasure yourself and your partner.
This is easier said than done, however. If I’m having sex with my partner and I start thinking about the dishes that I still need to wash or the laundry that needs to be dried, I just take a deep breath and bring my attention back to the body. Dishes can wait.
When you do feel bombarded with anxious, irrelevant thoughts (it’s bound to happen sometime), there are many ways to redirect your focus back to the body. I find it most helpful and deeply rewarding to focus my attention on just one spot of my body (or my partners) and really attempt to experience the sensations to the fullest, be it throbbing, tingling, warmth, saltiness, sweetness, or what have you. Going from one sensation to another in a conscious manner really tests your ability to concentrate.
When the dirty dishes pop back into mind, notice the thought and then redirect your concentration again to the body. The more you practice mindfulness the more you can appreciate the continuous movement and change that takes place within and between your bodies. While having orgasms are amazing and important, having that as your main focus can take away from the mindful practice. And let’s not forget that you don’t need a partner to practice mindfulness. You can just as easily pleasure yourself with mindful awareness as you can with another person.
2. Be Kinder to Yourself.
In a way this is related to the first principle because it has to do with Attention–not paying attention to your ego. How many times have you heard it?
Your ego is just a voice in your head. Don’t believe anything It says. The Buddhists refer to it as your “monkey mind” that you must learn to tame.
It’s the chattering narrative of your life telling you that you’re not good enough, you’re not going to succeed, don’t take too many risks, etc. In other words, when your ego feels threatened, you start to feel insecure, be it about your body image or lack of experience in the bedroom.
It’s crucial to remember that your insecurities and hang-ups about yourself are only in your head. In reality, you are perfect.
However, herein lies the paradox: you are also imperfect. Everyone is. I take comfort knowing that all people are flawed in some way, and that we all experience moments of suffering, happiness, confusion and certainty. There is nothing wrong with having flaws–it’s how we react to those flaws that is, well, flawed.
It’s helpful to recognize this “imperfect perfection” of ours and to practice thwarting negative, self-critical thoughts by simply noticing them and letting them go. Otherwise, repeatedly indulging in negative thoughts will give them more weight and create more suffering. Instead of allowing your ego to control your mind, take action and treat yourself with compassion and loving kindness. Let your inner-Buddha shine through and practice being okay with making mistakes and feeling pain. Remember that no matter what happens to you, there is no need for judgment.
3. Openness and Willingness
Not surprisingly, this principle is also related to the previous two because not only does that crazy monkey of an ego make you feel insecure, but it also holds on tightly to values, beliefs, morals and rules.
Being open to new experiences and willing to let go of fixed ideas about sex or your body.
This takes practice and requires awareness, yet can be a powerful transformative experience that brings you and your partner closer. It’s about being open to your own sexuality, discovering what gives you pleasure, and not harboring any shame or guilt.
I advise opening up the conversation between you and your partner and discovering what you are willing to try and what is simply off the table. It’s best to first determine your own sexual penchant, discuss that with your partner and hear what they have to say.
For instance, where and how do you liked to be touched? Are there positions you would like to try or certain fantasies that you hope to actualize? Sometimes writing out a list of “yes,” “no” and “maybe’s” can lend itself to the transformative experience.
If you’re not into lists, you can also verbally communicate your desires and boundaries, or my personal favorite, teach by doing. If you’re comfortable, showing your partner how and where you want to be touched is not only arousing, but highly educational. However, one must be willing to do this and if you have reservations then communicate those as well. Remember to refer to principle number two–it’s alright to feel insecure when discussing (or demonstrating) sexual preferences, but again, there is no need for judgment.