Mindful Sex

Tips and techniques from the front lines of couples therapy.

Six Tips For Great Sex

Six Tips for Great Sex

1. The fundamental sex organ necessary for great sex is between the ears.

In Relational Life Therapy (RLT) intimacy is considered a process and practice. Intimacy is when two separate or differentiated individuals turn to face each other in order to deal honestly and respectfully with each others thinking and feeling realities. Great sex is the embodiment (literally and metaphysically) of the chemistry and positive energy you can create between. If you and your partner are able to repair disharmony with skill and moderation and in a conscious manner, go about the business of cherishing the relationship, it is much easier to become sexual with one another. All it takes is conscious intention and communication of desire. It might be helpful to think of the time between sexual activities as "fore-fore play." You create in your relationship practice the "flow" that reminds each of you of what you value and find attractive and even sexy in the other. This can simply take the form of behaving in ways that your partner truly appreciates. Of course there must be some foundation of physical attraction and chemistry to build on. All the effective and highly skilled relational practice will not compensate for the lack of any sort of sexual chemistry. But chemistry and attraction is a necessary but insufficient condition for good sex. You must mindfully attend to each other's needs in order to produce positive flow that leads to sexual contact.

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2. Necessity is the mother of invention but generosity is what gilds the lily.

Good communication is the sin quon non of great sex. This tip is about the need to provide feedback to your partner in the form of verbal and non-verbal communication. Many couples get into a struggle around the wish to be known to their partner without having to make their needs known overtly. Great sex is like a dance where you learn to move in synchrony (or like a symphony) with your partner. Sex is different from dancing in so much as you need to learn what buttons to push or how to evolve your touch so as to engender increasing arousal in your partner as they do similarly for you. It is impossible to know if your administrations are hitting the target unless you get some feedback. So you might want to grunt or moan a bit to signal your partner is right on. Focus on what is right instead of wrong. Now this adding a sound track to the physical can be a stretch for some of us. However, if you wish to be touched in ways that lead to increasing levels of pleasure and hence arousal, you must teach your partner what feels good. A road map to great sex does come furnished when you sign on to the relationship. You need to create the smooth and wonderful dance of sexual intimacy by trial and error (just not focus on the error). Focus on the things you do which garner positive feedback as you provide your own feedback to the sweet touch of your partner.

Express your love and appreciation freely and often. Do what your partner likes not what you want to do. Be the lover who is more concerned about your partner's needs than your own.

3. Innovation is the spice of life.

Good sex through the life-span is a dialectic between the "tried and true" or what can be counted on and creating novelty through innovation and exploration. Anything that is done, redone, and then done again will become boring. If you combine a lack of exploration and innovation with a failure to communicate, this signals the death knell for enjoyment. Try altering the positions you typically rely on. Talk about what your fantasies are and then if mutually agreed upon, act them out. Try having sex on the living room couch, the rug in front of a roaring fire, or outside on the beach (avoid sand in crotch). Take a romantic weekend away from the kids, get a room and take the time to explore each other's bodies in a sensuous and erotic manner. Take a bath or shower with your partner and soap each other up noting with focused attention the sensations that you can produce if you go slow and are conscious. The point is to confront your sexual attitudes and inhibitions that might limit the creation of newness and variety in your sexual behavior. The cure to boredom is to seek novelty. You can't do this unless you have the safety and security within the relationship to share your deepest feelings and desires. Again, it is about the capacity to nurture a relationship which has as its center the open disclosure of what you think, feel and desire. If you are able to enrich your sexual relationship with variety by sharing, you can keep interested and stimulated throughout your lives together. Monogamy does not have to equal mortification.

4. Mindfulness (being present) or keeping your eyes on the ball(s).

Mindfulness is the capacity to be present in the moment. It is attention to intention. It is about being fully aware of what is happening NOW. The other "wing" of mindfulness is greeting that present moment awareness with non-judgment or loving kindness. This skill and practice is as important for great sex as focusing on the ball is in order to hit a good forehand in tennis.
So many patients come to see me with sexual dysfunction are unable to allow their bodies to accomplish what is so natural and biologically determined (getting sexually aroused) because they are thinking themselves to death. They react to thoughts about performance with emotion (fight/flight response, anxiety) and are no longer present in the moment. In the instant you shift towards thinking about performance or become worried about how you are doing or if your partner is enjoying or being satisfied, you become an observer and dissociated from the sensations of pleasure that are intrinsic to the experience. If you are thinking about your work, housework, kids, parents, or your body's shortcomings, you are not present and mindful of what is happening in the moment and thus able to "let go and let God." Thinking, worrying, spectatoring create the stress response and ultimately vasoconstriction which is anathema to the optimal physiology of heightening arousal.

So show up in the moment of sexual encounter with all your senses. It is not about thinking. Allow your awareness to rest in the sensations that you and your partner create. Let yourself bring presence to each touch, sensation, smell, movement, sound and taste while you are making love. Stay focused on your partner and your experience of giving and receiving. If you become aware that you are drifting into thought, bring your awareness back to the moment and don't judge yourself for having drifted. Great sex is about awarenesing sensation and allowing yourself to sink into the experience of physical and emotional intimacy.

5. Longevity of great sex: practice good self-care.

Sex is essentially a physical act, the embodiment of intimacy. You need your body for its accomplishment and the better shape your in the more fun you can have. Libido stays stronger as you age if you maintain good health and take care of your body. No maintenance of the body and rust accumulates and in the words of Paul Simon, "the tools of love wear down." If you don't take good care of yourself, become overweight or seriously de-conditioned: A. you will reduce your attractiveness to your partner and libido will diminish, and B. The physical act of the sex itself will become more difficult from just a bio-mechanical point of view. So get to the gym and practice healthy nutrition.

6. Great sex, like revenge, is a dish best served up cold.

Here's a good tip: avoid having sex in the heat of the moment of hurt, pain, conflict, or preoccupation. In order to have "makeup sex," some amount of repair needs to happen so you both can enjoy each other free of lingering resentments and anger. Cultivating a good sex life, as has been suggested, follows from mindfully practicing intimacy as an ongoing moment-by-moment experience. If you are feeling good about your relationship and communicate, share your self with your partner on a thinking a feeling level and can repair disharmony, finding the "gear" of sexual expression simply and naturally follows. It takes the conscious awareness to stop the parallel working/practical management, aide-by-side living to pause, face each other, and take the moment to say, "I love you and would like to make love to you."

In this busy and stressful time it often takes scheduling spontaneity to make sure your sex life stays top shelf. Arranging dates where both of you show up for each other might make more sense than trusting that somehow you are both going to magically appear all naked and primed for the experience. This does not have to become a struggle over who get so initiate sex. It can be a mature, functional adult responsibility that both of you assume - like arranging an adult play date. And when you appear for the "date" bring all the spontaneity, creativity, novelty yet sensitivity and generosity you can muster.

 

 

Dan F. Pollets, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist. more...

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