If you're looking to improve your sex life, it's easy to lose yourself in endless sex tips. There are always new sex positions, new sex toys, and new tweaks to try. But there is growing evidence that, when it comes to having better sex, it may be about not doing much of anything. No, I don't mean laying there like a dead fish — I mean simplifying your approach. That's what Dr. Sarah Hunter Murray, who specializes in sexual desire, suggests. She makes the argument that rather than a string of tips to make your sex life more exciting by adding new elements, there is research that actually suggests less is more. That is, good sex is more about being in the moment with your partner than a lot of bells and whistles.
"I think we have this inherent worry that we're missing out on something when it comes to sex," Murray tells Bustle. "When we first learn about sex it was clouded in wonder and mystery. Then we become sexually active and realize — hmm... it's not that mysterious! And then we start to doubt ourselves and our relationship. We begin to think — maybe it's just my sex life that's lackluster. Maybe I'm doing something wrong. So we latch on to ideas, tips, tricks and suggestions to make things better and more exciting." But it's not always the right move.
For example, she points to a study from Peggy Kleinplatz, a Canadian sex researcher at the University of Ottawa, who looked at 44 people who self-identified as having great sex and 20 sex therapists to find out what made the sex great. It wasn't being able to touch your feet to your head or using 85 different nipple clamps. Instead, the one of the big themes was simply being present during sex.
How can you be more present? Well, you can think of taking mindfulness techniques and applying them into the bedroom. "Mindful sex is all about connection," Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. "You need positions where you can look in each other's eyes, be aware of each other, be in the moment and connect on a deeper level." Trying to focus on what's going on, really experiencing it rather than zoning out, can make a huge difference to your satisfaction.
Mindfulness Outside Of The Bedroom
But interestingly, it's not just about being mindful during sex. Murray also suggests that being mindful outside of the bedroom can help your sex life. Not only because you become better at practicing mindfulness generally and can take those skills into the bedroom. It's also about an unexpected side effect of mindfulness which, according to research from Dr. Lori Brotto and a team at the University of British Columbia, is linked to higher desire in women. She found that a mindfulness course was linked to more arousal, desire, and satisfaction even six months after the course finished.
So you may want to look into basic mindfulness techniques, like gentle meditation. “Meditation is about bettering your mind and your self-awareness," Yogi and artist Celine Rahman tells Bustle. "With more self-awareness, you have the ability to live in the moment and become mentally attentive to things you may not have been before.” You don't need to jump in with both feet and sign up for a month-long retreat. Just try some simple meditation and mindfulness techniques to ease your way into it, even if it's just a moment of being aware.
"Just like you schedule time for happy hour, or to watch Westworld, pencil in time to just be," Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founder and co-CEO of Shine, tells Bustle. "We’re really good at jamming our schedule full, but getting intentional about free-flowing time is something we all deserve." Without even realizing it, taking some time to just be might actually lead to more satisfaction in the bedroom.
And it doesn't always come easily, but don't let that deter you. "Everyone has trouble staying in the moment sometimes," Murray says. "We have so many demands and distractions vying for our attention at all times (jobs, kids, exercising, cooking, cleaning, errands, friends, family and endless notifications on our smart phones, to name a few). So the first thing about being mindful is to not judge yourself for struggling to stay present! It's all about the practice of continuing to invite yourself back to the moment and not getting too upset with yourself when your mind inevitably wanders."
I'm a huge advocate of mixing things up in bed, and generally, I think toys, new positions, or a new location can be really helpful if you want a little boost. But sometimes what you need isn't more, it's less. Take some time to reset and really be present during sex, because it may just make all the difference.