Meditation and sex may not sound like natural bedfellows. One is usually practiced alone, sitting still and in silence, while the other is hopefully more active, probably a little noisier, and ideally enjoyed with a partner. But in fact, these two practices have a lot in common.
The goal of meditation is to train the mind to be present, fully attentive in the moment, at ease, and without distraction. And so, when we look at it like that, we can see how these qualities can help us during sex.
Our enjoyment of sex — and the intimacy we share, build, and maintain — relies on how mindful we are when we physically connect. Sex involves a huge mental element: being in the moment together and considerate of each other’s needs.
Studies show that mindfulness can help us enjoy better sex and even resolve sexual problems. By learning to embrace ourselves, our desires, and the sensations of sex, we’re making space for us to connect on a deeper level with our partner.
Meditation can help us enjoy better sex
We can learn to be more present in the moment to encourage greater connection
Try 6 meditations for sex and relationships
Sex, of course, has been around since the beginning of time. But mindful sex is a relatively new term, based on ancient practices and ideas.
In recent years, we’ve been hearing more about meditative, tantric sex, when intercourse is slow, with an emphasis on a prolonged connection with our partner rather than orgasm. But even this practice is nothing new. It has roots in ancient Hinduism.
Mindfulness and sex were brought even more into the mainstream during the 60s. That’s when renowned sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, whose story was turned into the hit TV show ‘Masters of Sex’, developed the technique “sensate focus.” Their advice for those experiencing intimacy issues was similar to the goals people seek in a meditation practice: encouraging participants to pay attention to the sensations of the experience rather than getting lost in their own heads.
As awareness of the benefits of mindfulness has become more common, we’ve also seen a rise in sexual meditation, which is specifically targeted to improve our sexual well-being. Research has started to examine why these two long-standing practices make such a good couple.
In one study, a group of women underwent sexual function tests and then took part in three group mindfulness-meditation sessions, spaced two weeks apart. They also meditated alone at home. When they later retook their sexual function test, their desire, arousal, and sexual satisfaction increased.
This research also found that meditation can help with a range of sexual problems, including low libido and erectile dysfunction.
Another published study examined the effects of sex mindfulness in particular, and found those who were more aware of the present moment during sex had higher levels of sexual satisfaction. The author of that study goes so far as to say: “Better sex may be as simple as slowing down, being less judgmental about yourself and your partner, and paying attention to touch, arousal, and the connection felt during sex.”
By practicing meditation, and then bringing the skills we learn into our everyday lives (including the bedroom), we can learn to be more present in the moment and enjoy a more meaningful and enjoyable connection with our partner.
When we meditate, we use an object of focus (typically our breath) to anchor our attention to the present moment. If we practice this, it will be easier to bring our focus back to the body if our mind wanders when physically connecting with our partner.
This skill can also be honed to place the object of focus on a physical sensation, which can help us to let go of distractions and become more aware of our own body and our partner’s. Should our mind wander during sex, we learn to bring the mind back to that sensation, returning our focus back to the moment.
Stress, of course, can be a big passion killer. We’ve all been there: parenting has become too much or we’ve got a lot on our plate at work and the last thing we feel is sexy. When stress becomes too much, our cortisol levels spike, which can lower our libido.
The good news is that meditation has been scientifically proven to descrease cortisol levels as well as the size of the amygdala, our emotional thermostat that regulates our reaction to stress and helps us keep calm and focused. In fact, a 2018 study of 88 medical students found that the participants who used Headspace for just 30 days had a 12% decrease in stress. A separate study found that people who used Headspace for 30 days reduced stress by a third.
Self-esteem is another crucial element of our sexual well-being. Meditation helps us become less judgmental of ourselves and let go of negative storylines — which may be getting in the way of being present with our partner — while opening ourselves up to the vulnerability and uncertainty that comes with any relationship. We’re better placed to wholeheartedly share our love with others once we’ve learned to love ourselves.
Looking for more meditations to enhance sex and relationships? The Headspace app offers members several courses and single meditations for us to explore, including:
Self-Love single meditation. Tap into the love that’s always been available to you.
Relationships course. Achieve greater harmony with others and yourself.
Self-Compassion course. Practice treating yourself with unconditional kindness.
Loving Others single meditation. Explore ways to appreciate different relationships.
Self-Esteem course. Move towards a less judgmental inner life.
Finding Focus course. Get familiar with a relaxed, precise kind of focus.
By integrating a regular meditation practice into our lives, we learn to connect with ourselves, which, in turn, allows us to better connect with our partners. During our practice, we train the mind to be more present, kinder, and more mindful. Then, we can take those skills into the bedroom, helping to bring us and our partner closer to the level of intimacy we crave.