Depending on where you’re at in the world, it’s very likely that you’re experiencing some form of social distancing as our global community tries to collectively suppress the spread of COVID-19. One of the most immediate and universal impacts of social distancing – by the very nature of the concept – is a sharp decline in physical closeness to other people, quite possibly including our lover(s). Furthermore, whether we live with our partners or will be spending some time apart from those we love, for many of us, as we manage the stress of this pandemic sex might be one of the last things on our minds.
I want to encourage you to consider including mindful masturbation and erotic massage in your self-care routine. Being physically distanced from other people can contribute to feelings of emotional isolation, which will only increase your stress. Engaging in mindful activities that focus on your own pleasure will help relieve some of the mental and emotional weight on your shoulders. If you’re able to include a friend or lover in these practices, great, but I encourage you to consider taking this time to cultivate this relationship with yourself in a deeper way.
At its core, mindfulness is about being fully present in the moment you’re in. Our brains have evolved to become easily distracted. We’ve got a
phone to our left, a computer in our laps, a TV on in the distance, a partner or roommate or kid in the next room, music in the background…. We’re used to constant distraction and very rarely are we completely and totally in the here-and-now, completely focused only on what’s immediately in front of us. Ever make it to the end of a podcast and not remember a word that was said? Ever eat a meal and not remember the taste of a single bite? Ever get all the way to work and not remember the route you took?
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to just one moment at a time. Mindful meditation is a practice where you sit still and focus on your breath. The goal is to relax your mind and become completely engaged only in the act of meditation. Sit in a comfortable position – legs crossed on a cushion on the floor, or in a comfortable chair with your feet planted and your back straight. You don’t want to be too comfy, because then you might fall asleep, but if you’re too uncomfortable you won’t be able to focus on anything else. Put your phone away, but maybe set a timer for 5 minutes. Depending on how hectic the rest of your life is, at first doing this for even five minutes might seem like a lot to take on, so start small. Many people find it easy to start by closing their eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly let it out through your mouth. Try to focus only on your breath. Breathe in to the slow count of five, then out to the slow count of six. In to six, out to seven. In to seven, out to eight. Then in and out to the slow count of eight. Your mind will start to wander, when it does, notice it without judging it, and then come back to your breath. Practice this until your timer beeps and then be done. Take some time to see how that feels. Get up slowly and be gentle with yourself in the time following your meditation. Make it a goal to work up to 15 minutes. Then, maybe, 30.
What you’re learning from the practice above is how to be totally in-the-moment. Bringing this practice to your masturbation habits can be life changing. I encourage folks who are new to this to start without using any toys, even if you’re used to using toys when you masturbate. The goal here is not to orgasm, the goal is simply to be fully present with your body and your breath. Doing this in a warm bath or in your soft bed is a great place to start.
Get into a comfortable position and close your eyes. You’ll practice focusing on the way it feels to touch yourself – from the top of your body, down your chin and neck, across your chest, over your tummy, on your ass and thighs, and between your legs. Go slow and be methodical. Breathe and touch. Notice the way your fingers glide over your skin. If you decided to keep any clothing on, notice the way that clothing feels against your hands and against your body. If your mind starts to wander, notice the thoughts and then let them go without judgement. Come back to your breath and the way it feels to be touched. Try this for 5, 10, 15 minutes. Then more, if you like. After each session, notice the way you felt and the way you feel.
If you’d like to include orgasm in this practice, try to vary your experience. Sometimes you can try to allow orgasm to come as it will. Sometimes you can try to delay it for a bit and see how that feels. The most important part of the practice is being fully present with yourself. Remember – phone off.
This is where we bring back the toys, but we get creative. We often see sex toys marketed as “personal massagers” but how often do we take the time to explore their use as more than orgasm machines? Maybe you use this as time to reconsider toys that haven’t been favorites in the
past – or maybe you become re-acquainted with your trusty sidekick in new ways. Consider the ways your toys feel on parts of your body they weren’t necessarily marketed for. Consider how they feel as pressure point massagers, combine them with (compatible) lubes and integrate them with your mindfulness practice for a full-body experience. Touch your body in ways that you aren’t used to touching yourself and notice how that feels. Don’t forget to include a good lube to enhance the experience.
You can invite a lover (or two, or three) into this practice with you, or you can do this alone. If you’re socially distancing yourself from your lover(s) consider looping them in remotely and practice erotic mindfulness together, staying fully present with each other and taking turns focusing on each other’s pleasure.
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