Q: Lately, my partner has become devoted to mindfulness. The latest idea is that he wants us to have ‘mindful sex’, which involves focusing on being present in the moment, deep breathing and looking into each other’s eyes. He gets a lot out of it, but I feel it turns sex into such an intense and ‘spiritual’ performance that I yearn for a simple quickie.
A: We really must be at peak mindfulness now.
It is touted as a magic bullet for everything from anxiety to arthritis, but despite what the apps and the websites tell you, it is not easy for everyone to master — and not everyone wants to master it.
Your partner is obviously getting a lot out of his mindfulness practice and that’s fine, but mindful sex is not something one person can decide to impose upon their relationship.
Because it requires such intense mutual engagement, if your partner wants to encourage you to give mindful sex a go, he needs to convince you of the benefits of mindfulness first.
Once you appreciate the process, mindful sex is a pretty natural extension of it.
It’s not a new idea either. In fact, if you take the spiritual element out of Tantra, you couldn’t slide an envelope between the two.
Mindful sex is described as being present to each other in both mind and body.
It involves paying attention to every experience as it happens.
It requires you to clear your mind of distraction and be alert to every sensation: The touch of his thigh, the smell of his skin.
Inhaling slowly through your nose, and exhaling slowly through your mouth, you are aiming to stay completely focused so that you can both be completely in the moment.
It can be an amazing way to connect deeply and meaningfully, but if that’s all your sex life becomes, I quite see your issue with it.
It means that your sex life has suddenly become unvaried, and unsurprisingly you’re a bit bored.
Quickies (or mindless sex) are also fantastic, and they too require breathing — the normal, effortless kind that you don’t have to think about.
And it obviously involves touching, sensation and arousal. However, instead of “brushing distractions away” so that you can be present in the moment, you let any old distraction drift right in.
A distraction can be a good thing — it could be an erotic fantasy that turbo-charges arousal. If you are a bit pushed for time, mindless sex can still be fantastic. It doesn’t necessarily stick to equal reciprocity. It is spontaneous, fun and far easier to fit into our busy lives.
The precise reason mindful sex provides a cognitive respite from the stresses and strains of daily life is because it is a ‘temporary’ rather than a permanent state.
As soon as you start making mindful sex the rule, rather than the exception, it loses its organic charm and starts to feel a bit like a straitjacket.
Good sex responds to the mood you are in. Sometimes slow, mindful, connected sex is the best interpretation of how you are both feeling.
At other times, tearing each other’s clothes off is the required option. Sometimes morning sex hits the spot.
Sometimes evening. Basically, being open to your feelings for each other is much more important than being present to your breath.
In the same way that we can’t be happy all the time, we can’t be mindful all the time either.
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved