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5 ways to practice mindfulness in the bedroom

We met Wendy Strgar, founder of the company Good Clean Love, at a conference in Vegas (as one does) a few years back and were instant fans. Good Clean Love makes organic love products — for example, lubes that actually smell good, and aren’t packed with nasty artificial sugars (which can lead to yeast infections). She’s all about sustainability, from the environment to your relationship. So we were excited to check out her new book, Love That Works. One of our favorite sections of the book focuses on how mindfulness can improve your sex life. And while some mindfulness advocates drive us crazy with these vague notions of what it means to truly focus, Wendy’s approach is practical and straightforward.

The basic idea is this: mindfulness can help you cut out all the noise that tells you your sex life is not “normal” enough or “experimental” enough. It can help you forget about unsexy distractions like work stress or family dysfunction or body image issues. Mindfulness helps you turn off your overworked mind so you can focus on the physical sensations in your body. “Sensuality is really nothing more than connecting to your senses deeply,” Wendy writes. “It is in the smallest of sensations that this practice comes alive. For instance, actually feel the different textures of skin on your partner’s body, or feel the weight of his or her hands on your lower abdomen, run your fingers through his hair, trace her face with your lips. … Being consumed by your sense of smell with someone you love carries the intrinsic power of presence.”

Of course, mindfulness takes practice, as anyone who sat through two and a half excruciating hours of Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love can tell you. So we asked Wendy to share with us five tips from her book on ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day love life:

1.  Make it a game. One of everyone’s favorite childhood games, Hot and Cold, is a great way to playfully lead your mate to exactly the places that you most enjoy being touched. Any time you turn your communication into a game, you build up suspense and anticipation because the game opens your exchange to the unexpected. For example, if your partner is kissing your neck and you say, “you’re getting warmer,” you might be pleasantly surprised by the many unexplored erogenous zones they discover on their way down to your preferred spot. Playfulness and laughter are the hors d’oeuvres of passion.

2. Use fantasy to your advantage. I can always pique my husband’s curiosity when I start any conversation with “I had this fantasy about us, and you were doing  ______with me.” Opening up your lover’s imagination both lets him/her know that you are thinking about him in sexy ways and gives him/her permission to try out new things that they might have otherwise been too timid to approach. Sharing fantasies is a playful and effective way to move your love life into new territory.

3. Let someone else do the talking. Both men’s and women’s magazines offer monthly advice for improving your love life. Sometimes giving someone a good idea can be as simple as leaving the magazine open to the right page on your bed. If that doesn’t work, a simple conversation starter like, “ I just read this interesting, crazy, cool (pick your adjective) article in this magazine. What do you think about….?” Books and television shows can also be used like this, so just find good sources to get your conversation started.

4. Show rather than tell. One of the most effective forms of correction in many activities, and I would say sex ranks high here, is by noticing and using the teachable moment.When his/her hand isn’t quite placed correctly or if the pressure is too soft or hard, lay your hand on top of your partner’s and show her how you like it. Your immediate response will bank that shift deep into her memory banks. Experiential learning not only lasts longer but also often translates into other areas of relating.

5. Compliment instead of complain. Your sensitivity to your partner’s ego in sexual performance is well founded.  Most of us have a raw nerve about being able to pleasure the people we love.  Rephrasing what isn’t working into a statement of what would make your experience hotter is easy to hear and listen to. Try “I love it when you… And it would be even better if you…”  Instead of complaining about what is happening, you are channeling current behavior into sexy new possibilities.

Adapted with permission from Love That Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy by Wendy Strgar

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photo by Daniel Sandoval