Have you ever been having sex with someone and found your mind wandering? “Shoot! I didn’t finish that email I was supposed to send!” or “Did I leave the burner on after heating up that ramen?” or “Jesus, the landlord really needs to repaint this ceiling.” Before you know it, your brain has wandered off without you, taking you away from all of the awesomeness that your body is going through. Being distracted from sex makes you disconnected from your body. And while you might be going through the motions, you’re not really connecting with the person you’re with or the sensations you’re feeling. The end result is often frustration, disappointing sex, and a hard time reaching orgasm.
Elena Harder is the founder of JoyGasm, a mindfulness program that focuses on helping people learn how to trigger the orgasmic pathways in their brains, even without any sexual stimulation. She thinks that this kind of disconnection is a symptom of a general disconnection from our bodies in the modern world.
“The majority of people don’t really live in their bodies to begin with,” Elena told Bustle. “They live in their computers and minds and their little devices. To think that sex would be any different— like it’s going to magically drop you into your body — is kind of unrealistic.”
But don’t despair! Just because we’re having trouble connecting with our bodies and tuning in during sex doesn’t mean we can’t do those things. Here are Elena’s top seven tips for reconnecting with your body and getting back into sex when your mind starts to wander. (Don’t worry: that ceiling paint is not actually that big a deal.)
1. Focus On Your Breathing
A classic way to reconnect with your body is by focusing on your breathing. Be conscious of the breaths that you are taking in and out. By focusing on your breath, you’re reconnecting with a very basic part of your body’s functioning and it will bring you back to your physical self. It’s also a great way to push out those distracting thoughts.
2. Communicate With Your Partner
If you find yourself drifting, it’s totally OK to let your partner know! In fact, it’s recommended. Let them know that you’re having trouble tuning in and ask them for help and patience as you reconnect. Maybe you need them to touch you a certain way or you need to just kiss for a while. Your disconnection is not a reflection on their lovemaking or the strength of your connection with them but just a symptom of being human in a hectic world.
3. Tense Every Muscle In Your Body — And Then Let Them All Go
“When you tense every muscle you connect with every single muscle in your body and then when you let it go, you let them all go,” Elena explained.
Tensing all of your muscles connects you with your entire body and sets up the stage for relaxation. Once you’ve tensed all of your muscles up, relax them! Elena pointed out that relaxing, on its own, is actually really hard. By tensing all of your muscles you’re physically setting the stage for relaxation. It makes it way easier than just saying: “Brain! Relax the body!”
4. Focus On Parts Other Than Your Genitals
In partnered sex we’re often super focused on our genitals, because that’s where the main part of the show is. However, sex involves all of your body and sometimes it’s necessary to pay attention to other parts in order to reconnect with what’s going on downstairs. When you take the pressure of your genitals:
“It’s like focusing over there to get what you really want, over here,” Elena explained, pointing in one direction and then the other. Or, to employ another metaphor, it’s like how the best way to search for shooting stars is to stare at the sky with unfocused eyes. If you stare to hard in one spot, you’ll miss the ones flying in your periphery.
5. Try To Be Less Orgasm-Centric
Another common mistake we make is being really orgasm-centric. This is one that I’ve recently realized is a problem for me. When we focus only on the end result it’s so easy to get caught up our heads. We’re also robbing ourselves of all the other awesome physical and emotional sensations that come along with partnered sex.
Elena describes it as the moment when your brain goes, “I’m almost there, I’m almost there — oh f*ck! Now I’m not! Now it’s never going to happen.”
So pay attention to the journey, instead of just the destination. Get pleasure out of touching, kissing, licking — all that fun stuff. You’ll find that once you’re reconnected with the process, the orgasm will come on its own.
6. Weave Figure Eights With Your Hand
Elena said that she finds re-focusing on a non-sexual activity also helps her reconnect with her body and the sexual things happening to it. She used making figure eights with her hand as an example, especially when engaged in something that doesn’t require her hands — like receiving oral or having intercourse in the missionary position. This move gives you something else to focus on, which drops you deeper into your body and the sex that you’re having.
7. Be OK With Taking A Break
If you need to take a few minutes to breath or talk it out with your partner, feel empowered to do so! Some people worry about ruining the mood but the fact of the matter is that the mood is already ruined for you if you’re not tuned in to your body, right? A good partner will understand your need to reconnect so if the person you’re with doesn’t get it? If they don’t want you to be present and enjoying what’s going on? Don’t see them again. In the words of Dan Savage, DTMFA.
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