Can Mindfulness Help You Break Through Sexual Challenges?
Mindfulness is all about learning how to be intimate with yourself once again: In other words, turning toward your thoughts, feelings, and emotions or others with a kind or loving awareness.
Derek Walcott’s poem of Love after Love is recited in most Mindfulness-Based Therapy programs because it is so accurate. Walcott says, “You will love again the stranger who was yourself.”
So if mindfulness is about becoming intimate with our selves and with life, then it seems like it would be a natural fit to weave mindfulness with sex, right?
A handful of years ago I began to create the curriculum for a program called Mindfulness-Based Sex Therapy, taking traditional sex therapy theory and techniques and weaving it into the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) curriculum.
I thought that integrating the attitudes of non-judgment, openness to experience, non-striving toward any particular goal, and letting things be as they are could relieve a lot of sexual pressure that is involved with sexual challenges. This is not a brave new concept; the classic texts of Masters and Johnson seem to integrate pieces of this in their work to support people who have aversion or anxiety around sex. The acts of Kama Sutra and Tantric sex also integrate some of this work. However, it is not presented in the palatable way that I believe the Mindfulness-Based Therapies are.
Research and personal experience tell us that practicing mindfulness also allows us to be more flexible (mentally, but also physically if combined with stretching or yoga) and creative leading to more opportunity to experience pleasurable sexual experiences in ways that we may have been closed off to in the past.
Fortunately or unfortunately, my mind began to wander off (as it does) and I began to get involved with creating an online interactive guide that brings people through a program for Mindfulness, Anxiety, and Stress, a number of mindfulness-based CDs for various mental health challenges, and then began the journey of co-authoring A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn and coming out in February, 2010 (forgive me, shameless plug).
I still think it’s a great idea and believe many people would benefit it.
If you are interested in places that are actually doing this now, you might look into the outfit up in San Francisco called, OneTaste started by Nicole Daedone. While I have never been there, in this center, you can experience an integration of mindfulness practice, movement, and sexuality. I can imagine this may bring up a lot of controversy as sexuality, while its all over the television and advertisements, remains a shadow in our culture. In other words, people don’t really often openly talk about their sex lives.
What’s interesting is that it is often these negative self-judgments or judgments on others that lead to being closed off to new experience and being trapped in our own minds. In my mind, this is all the more reason to bring mindfulness to it as we are instructed to notice our judgments (which most of us have many of regarding sex), let them be and come back to the direct experience, tuning into our senses. We can finally move toward being free from the confines of our own minds that so often lead to sexual challenges.
Allow this blog post to be a thought to chew on. How might integrating mindfulness into your life bring more intimacy and how might it open you up to new sexual experiences? If you notice judgments immediately arising as they will for many of us, just note them as “judging, judging” and come back to considering the question for your own life.
What are your thoughts around this? You can write below anonymously or with your name, but feel free to get involved in this conversation as it’s an important one. Please share your thoughts, stories, and questions, your involvement here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Goldstein, E. (2009). Can Mindfulness Help You Break Through Sexual Challenges?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2009/10/can-mindfulness-improve-your-sex-life/