What Is Sex Meditation? How This Practice Changed Intimacy For Me

Suzannah Weiss for Bustle

I reached the point some time last year where I'd roll my eyes whenever someone told me to meditate. I'd received this advice dozens of times, but whenever I tried, I'd just end up thinking the whole time — until a few weeks ago, when I began doing meditations for sex. I used the app Inscape, which has several guided sex and relationship meditation series, including "slow sex and intimacy: women" and "slow sex and intimacy: men," both of which I listened to, because we're all a bit of both, right? And after I was done with both sets, my approach to intimacy changed — for the better.

The philosophy behind the meditations is that we could all benefit from slowing down during sex and feeling sensations all over our bodies in the present moment, rather than focusing on the genitals and rushing toward orgasm. They aim to promote greater body awareness so that people can fully feel and enjoy what they're experiencing during sex — a concept many experts agree with.

Mindfulness meditation supports us in staying present and aware,” Dr. Rachel Needle, licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes, tells Bustle. “It is difficult to be fully present and aroused if we have a ‘busy’ mind and are thinking of everything we need to get done that day, for example. Our brain is our biggest sex organ. When we can be in the moment and focus on all of the sensations in our body, we can experience heightened arousal. Meditation can also be helpful to those experiencing sexual difficulties.”

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Perhaps the best thing about these meditations was that they actually motivated me to meditate. Would-be meditators who just can't get into "focusing on your breathing" may find themselves surprisingly interested in meditation when it involves thinking about sex and feeling sexual sensations — which is what these are about. Their topics range from loving your body to getting out of your head during sex, and most of the recordings include an explanation of the topic and a visualization or breathing exercise.

The idea of slowing down and making sex less goal-oriented was presented in too gendered of a manner for my taste — the narrator kept calling it the "feminine" way of having sex and said it comes more naturally to women — but the approach itself was very useful to me. I'd been trying to find ways to make my sex and masturbation sessions feel more sensual, connected, and enjoyable, and the meditations taught me that the way to do that is not necessarily to try something new but to savor what's already happening.

Perhaps the most impactful meditation was on increasing sensation in your breasts. It teaches the listener how to bring their energy to their "heart's center" as well as how to give a breast massage. The recordings also emphasized that you should try not to go for your genitals right away. I suppose I can get a bit impatient, because I usually get my genitals involved from the get-go whether I'm alone or with a partner. But the idea of keeping the focus on the breasts offered a new way of thinking about sex that involves leaning into every sensation rather than trying to produce the most intense sensation possible.

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When I was by myself, I began playing with my breasts and other parts of my body, and I was surprised by how much sensation I could learn to feel with some practice. This gave me an idea: The next time I saw my partner at the time, I asked him to linger on my breasts before moving down. I was again surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and the thought of how much he must enjoy it added another layer. I asked him to stroke the sensitive area of my lower stomach also, and I somehow relished these sensations even more than I relished the sex itself. Once he got to my genitals, I was so excited that I came within seconds. I also noticed that, while I'm typically particular about where and how I like to be touched, every touch felt amazing when I was that turned on and tuned in.

Shortly after, that relationship ended, and I started going to sex parties. I have mixed reactions to these parties because it takes me some time to get comfortable with people sexually. But the meditations offered me a new approach: If I wanted to hook up with anyone, I could stay above the belt and still have a satisfying experience. I didn't actually end up doing anything sexual, but I did notice how even a conversation can be highly erotic. The prompt to expand my definition of sexual pleasure had changed how I saw more than just sex.

While I disagree with calling this kind of sex "feminine" — people of all genders could stand to adopt more of this approach — I do think these meditations are a great way to learn a new and possibly more satisfying way of being intimate. And if you're hesitant to try meditating, these provide an easy avenue in.