Have Better Sex with Mindfulness

Have Better Sex with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindful sex involves being able to observe and describe what’s happening inside your body and mind without sorting experiences into “bad” and “good” or trying to change your feelings. When we are able to do that, we can “turn off the autopilot.” – Gina Silverstein

 

Sex is a very important aspect of life. Problems with sex are very common and have negative consequences for relationships. While research suggests that sexual dysfunction is common, it is a topic that many people are hesitant or embarrassed to discuss. Women suffer from sexual dysfunction more than men with 43% of women and 31% of men reporting some degree of difficulty. Hence, sex has major impacts on people’s lives and relationships. Greater research attention to sexual activity and sexual satisfaction and the well-being of the individual is warranted.

 

Mindfulness trainings have been shown to improve a variety of psychological issues including emotion regulationstress responsestraumafear and worryanxiety, and depression, and self-esteem. Mindfulness training has also been found to improve relationships and to be useful in treating sexual problems. But there is little empirical research on the relationship of mindfulness with sexuality in normal, non-clinical, individuals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness in Sexual Activity, Sexual Satisfaction and Erotic Fantasies in a Non-Clinical Sample.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908537/ )  Sánchez-Sánchez and colleagues recruited online adults who were meditation naïve or who practiced meditation for at least 5 months. They completed measures online of mindfulness, body awareness, sexual satisfaction, sexual activity, and sexual fantasies.

 

They found that the meditation practitioners were significantly higher in emotion regulation, family, academics, relationships, sociability, attention, health, sexuality, and leisure and significantly lower in perceived stress. They were also significantly higher in mindfulness, body awareness, sexual satisfaction, sexual activity, and sexual fantasies. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness and the amount of mindfulness practice, the higher the levels of body awareness sexual satisfaction and sexual activity. Also, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of body dissociation.

 

It should be kept in mind that there was no random assignment and so the groups may be quite different, People who meditate may be systematically different from those who don’t in many ways including the variables measured in this study. But previous research including randomized studies demonstrated that mindfulness produced higher levels of emotion regulation, family, academics, relationships, sociability, attention, health, and sexuality, and lower levels of stress. So, the present findings likely also represent causal connections.

 

These findings suggest that mindfulness is associated with better psychological and physical health and well-being. They also suggest that mindfulness is associated with better sexual function in terms of sexual activity, satisfaction with sex, and relationship quality and even a better sexual fantasy life. Sex is such an important aspect of life that many of the other psychological and physical benefits of mindfulness may emanate from the improved sex life of the individuals. Much more research is needed.

 

So, have better sex with mindfulness.

 

Think of mindful sex as an invitation, as an opportunity to explore the mystery of sex. The reward is deeper intimacy, more meaningful connections, and (fingers crossed) greater physical pleasure.” – Kayti Christian

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Sánchez-Sánchez, L. C., Rodríguez, M., García-Montes, J. M., Petisco-Rodríguez, C., & Fernández-García, R. (2021). Mindfulness in Sexual Activity, Sexual Satisfaction and Erotic Fantasies in a Non-Clinical Sample. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(3), 1161. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031161

 

Abstract

The goal of this study is to better understand the relation between the practice of Mindfulness and the sexual activity, sexual satisfaction and erotic fantasies of Spanish-speaking participants. This research focuses on the comparison between people who practice Mindfulness versus naïve people, and explores the practice of Mindfulness and its relation with the following variables about sexuality: body awareness and bodily dissociation, personal sexual satisfaction, partner and relationship-related satisfaction, desire, subjective sexual arousal, genital arousal, orgasm, pain, attitudes towards sexual fantasies and types of sexual fantasies. The sample consisted of 106 selected adults, 32 men and 74 women, who completed six measures on an online survey platform: (a) Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), (b) Scale of Body Connection (SBC), (c) New Sexual Satisfaction Scale (NSSS), (d) Scale of Sexual Activity in Women (SSA-W) and Men (SSA-M), (e) Hurlbert Index of Sexual Fantasy (HISF), (f) Wilson’s Sex Fantasy Questionnaire. In the MAAS, Body Awareness subscale (SBC), NSSS, SSA-W and SSA-M, HISF and intimate fantasies subscale (Wilson’s questionnaire), people in the Mindfulness condition showed higher scores and these differences were statistically significant. These results may have relevant implications in the sexuality of clinical and non-clinical samples.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908537/

 

Improve Body Awareness with Mindfulness

Improve Body Awareness with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We are so caught up in thought, distracted by everyday life and media, or simply in a hurry that we hardly feel anything anymore. Our life often only takes place in the head. But we are so much more! It is also very nourishing and beneficial to gradually develop a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the incredible performance that our body provides on a daily basis. Breathing, walking, eating and digesting, talking, hugging children, – let alone the five senses.” – Being mindful

 

Most of us spend the majority of our lives lost in thought. Even when we become aware of our surroundings it is principally of the sights and sounds surrounding us. It is usually only when something is very wrong that we become aware of our bodies, what is called interoceptive awareness. We are generally unaware of the signals from our bodies such as the breath, movements in the GI tract, heart beats accompanied with surges in blood pressure, the sensations from our muscles and joints, even the sensations from our skin.

 

Body awareness can be a good indicator of stress and emotional state. The lack of body awareness can be a real problem as this interoceptive awareness is needed to regulate and respond appropriately to the emotions. Being aware of the state of our bodies is also important for maintaining health, both for recognizing our physical state and also for making appropriate decisions about health-related behaviors. Interoceptive awareness is even fundamental to our sense of self and world view. Most contemplative practices focus attention on our internal state and thus improve our body awareness. There is a need to review and summarize what has been learned about the ability of mindfulness to improve body awareness.

 

In today’s Research News article “The relationship between mindfulness and objective measures of body awareness: A meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6874545/), Treves and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effects of mindfulness on body awareness. They identified 15 published studies involving a total of 879 participants. Seven studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) while 8 were comparisons of long-term meditators to meditation naïve controls.

 

They found that overall the published research literature reports that there is a small but significant positive relationship between mindfulness and body awareness such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of body awareness. This relationship was only significant with the randomized controlled trials.

 

These findings are suggestive that mindfulness training produces a small but significantly greater sensitivity to bodily states. But these findings must be interpreted cautiously as the effect sizes were very small and only present in manipulative studies (RCTs). The fact that the relationship was only present for RCTs and not when long-term meditators were compared to meditation naïve participants suggests that something about the experimental procedure is critical in producing the effect. This may be contaminants such as participant or experimenter biases, demand characteristics, or sensitization effects. It may also suggest that short-term meditation practice increases sensitivity that habituates over time.

 

So, improve body awareness with mindfulness.

 

With the mind in the body, we can regulate our responses to events, people, and situations, set up an early warning process to detect fight, flight, and freeze while making better, more conscious choices, notice muscular tension and release it within minutes, observe which areas of the body are habitually tight, tense, and need extra relaxation effort, be more aware of signs of tension or perceived danger in others and adjust our responses skillfully.” – Elad Levinson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Treves, I. N., Tello, L. Y., Davidson, R. J., & Goldberg, S. B. (2019). The relationship between mindfulness and objective measures of body awareness: A meta-analysis. Scientific reports, 9(1), 17386. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-53978-6

 

Abstract

Although awareness of bodily sensations is a common mindfulness meditation technique, studies assessing the relationship between mindfulness and body awareness have provided mixed results. The current study sought to meta-analytically examine the relationship between mindfulness operationalized as a dispositional trait or a construct trained through short- (i.e., randomized controlled trials [RCTs]) or long-term mindfulness meditation practice with objective measures of body awareness accuracy. PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Scopus were searched. Studies were eligible if they reported the association between mindfulness and body awareness, were published in English, and included adults. Across 15 studies (17 independent samples), a small effect was found linking mindfulness with greater body awareness accuracy (g = 0.21 [0.08, 0.34], N = 879). When separated by study design, only RCTs continued to show a significant relationship (g = 0.20, [0.02, 0.38], k = 7, n = 505). Heterogeneity of effects was low (I2 < 25%), although with wide confidence intervals. Effects were not moderated by study quality. Low fail-safe N estimates reduce confidence in the observed effects. Results suggest a small but potentially detectable relationship between mindfulness and body awareness accuracy. Future investigations could examine individual differences in body awareness as a mechanism within mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6874545/