How to Have Better Sex: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Body
This post will build on Part 1 of the Simplifying Sex series. If you missed it, click here to check it out.To those ready to continue their journey towards better, easier, and more satisfying sex, welcome back!
Before we jump in to this week’s topic, I want to take a moment to check-in on your “homework” assignment.
During your next sexual encounter, begin to notice what you are thinking about while you’re having sex. Ask yourself, am I focusing on my feelings and sensations, or am I thinking about how my body is physically responding to sex?
Did you have a chance to try it out? If so, what did you find yourself thinking about during your sexual experience?
When my clients try this exercise for the first time, many report feeling surprised at how frequently they thought about their involuntary physical responses. Maybe you were focusing on maintaining your erection or perhaps you were feeling insecure about your lack of vaginal lubrication. Another common thought during sex, especially for women, is, “Why doesn’t this feel better? I should be enjoying this more.” Remember the analogy of the car? It isn’t helpful to focus on the mechanics of the car while driving, but that is exactly what we do when we’re trying to enjoy our bodies; we focus on what we cannot control, the way our bodies are physically responding to sex.
Now that you have a better understanding of your own thought processes during sex, let’s explore what you can do to improve your sexual experiences.
Are you familiar with mindfulness? Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention onto your present, moment-to-moment physical and emotional experience without judgement or self-criticism (i.e. being in the moment). If you’d like to explore this concept in more detail, check out this article.
We are going to apply the basic principles of mindfulness to our sexual experiences to help us get out of our heads (thinking about what we cannot control) and into our bodies (feeling pleasurable sensations).
Step 1. Engage in actions that you can control
- Stop trying to think your physical body into responding positively to sex. Repeating “have an orgasm have an orgasm have an orgasm” is NEVER going to lead to having an orgasm. We cannot tell our bodies how to respond – but we can help our bodies respond in more pleasurable ways by focusing on our actions.
- The easiest thing we can control is our sense of touch. We choose who to touch, where to touch them, and how to touch them. We can also focus on what it feels like when we are being touched by our partner. We’re going to use the action of touch in this week’s exercise.
Step 2. Focus on your tactile sensations
- Being in your body requires an awareness of how your body is feeling and responding to touch.
- What do you feel when you’re being touched? Notice if the temperature is cool or warm, if the pressure is hard or soft, and if the texture is smooth or rough. Do you like the way these tactile sensations feel? If so, do more of what feels good, continuing to focus on the sensation of the touch itself.
Step 3. When you feel distracted, actively redirect your attention back to your sensations
- You are going to feel distracted. It is unavoidable! The main task here is to practice refocusing your attention back onto your sensations each time you notice your thoughts wandering.
- Do not criticize yourself when you struggle to focus on your sensations. Be kind and patient. This is hard work and will take practice!
Are you ready to try this out? Here’s your homework for this week.
We’re going to keep it simple and non-sexual to practice these principles in a no-stress environment.
You can do this with your partner or by yourself.
- Fill your bathtub with warm water. Dim the lights, light some candles, tell the kids to leave you alone. Create a calm, relaxing environment for yourself.
- Sit on the edge of the tub and place your bare feet in the water. Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths.
- Focus on how your feet feel in the water. Move them around slowly. How does the water feel as it swooshes around your skin?
- Remove your feet from the water and go sit somewhere comfortable. Now we’re going to massage the feet (let your partner do this if you’re together or do it on your own). Feel free to use lotion or oil if you’d like.
- Set a timer for five minutes.
- Focus on the your tactile sensations as your feet are massaged – how is the temperature, pressure, and texture against your skin?
- When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your sensations. You may have to do this every few seconds – that is normal.
When you’re finished, take a few minutes to journal about the experience. Write down whatever thoughts and feeling come up for you. Practice this exercise a few times a week, slowly integrating more sexual touch alone or with your partner. Remember, the goal here is to get out of your head and into your body. It will take time and practice!
Could you use a little extra help mastering these important skills? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! We specialize in sex therapy and couples counseling in Portland, OR and would love to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation!