S**ual mindfulness might sound far removed from the typical way you might envision good s**—hot, sweaty, and perhaps effortless. But a new study in the Journal of S** & Marital Therapy suggests remaining mindful during s** can actually make it way more satisfying.
Researchers studied nearly 200 individuals who were all married, heteros**ual, and between the ages of 36 and 60. To gauge their s**ual mindfulness—that is, their ability to stay totally aware and present during s**—the participants were asked to report how much they related to statements like “I pay attention to s**ual sensations” and “I pay attention to my emotions during s**.” They also reported how they felt about their s** lives, about their relationships, and about themselves.
The researchers found those who practiced s**ual mindfulness and avoided self-judgment during s** had an increased sense of s**ual well-being, including more s**ual satisfaction, relational satisfaction, and s**ual self-esteem. The study concluded that “engaging in mindfulness may address some of the anxiety that can interfere with a positive s**ual experience.” Basically, practicing s**ual mindfulness eradicates the things that often make s** more stressful, like anxiety, fear, and body shame.
“S** as an act isn’t terribly complicated, but mindful s**, s** with awareness, often takes tremendous courage, patience, and a willingness to hang out in our vulnerability,” Yael Shy, the founder of MindfulNYU, writes at mbg. “Mindful s** is about showing up as our whole selves, allowing ourselves to be seen, and being willing to truly see the other person or other people.”
What exactly might this look like? To begin practicing mindfulness during s**, the researchers suggest focusing on breath work while you’re doing it and trying to be more aware of your senses. S** therapist Jessa Zimmerman tells mbg that in order to be fully present, you should also avoid being too goal-oriented—like focusing on having an orgasm—and try to distance your mind from past s**ual hang-ups. Stop your mind when it wanders or begins to worry about something and bring it back to what’s currently going on in your body.
ual hang-ups. Stop your mind when it wanders or begins to worry about something and bring it back to what’s currently going on in your body.
If s**ual mindfulness still seems intimidating, start small—like focusing only on the sensation of touch during intercourse—and take it from there.