Sex – a Mindful Exploration of the Experience of Pleasure in the Body

Gaelle Ma (1)

Bringing mindfulness to your sexual experience can begin to offer a more nuanced understanding of your own experience in your body.  It’s often true that unless something is wrong, we don’t spend much time noticing what’s right. And when it comes to sex, our feelings and experiences can be complicated by trauma or fear, which can result in our sex life taking on a mind of its own.  We may be able to more easily track what feels wrong in our bodies when there’s pain or discomfort around sexual touch. It may be a lot harder to show up to explore the parts that might feel good.

Instead of trying to shut out the parts and feel bad or wrong, or try to override your physical experience –  it’s important to notice those signals.  It could be a chance to honor your awareness when it surfaces and give yourself permission to get curious about it in the moment. To allow yourself to be engaged with a sexual experience but also create space for curiosity can be a great way to learn and begin to change what is often perceived to be a bad, painful, or wrong experience.

Some tips to practice more mindful awareness of your sexual experience might be:

  1. Begin to expand your definition of sex.  Many people define sex as being about penetration or orgasm.  Sexual pleasure can include simple acts of touch to the hand, face, or feet.  Start where you feel most comfortable, and focus on the sensations that touch creates for you.  
  2. Try not to stifle the experience of something feeling bad or if triggered.  It’s always important to notice and pay attention to touch that creates physical tension or a felt sense of pulling away.  Trust your body’s instinct, and let it do its thing. If it doesn’t feel good or right, allow space for that and decide if you want to stop and/or move to something else.
  3. Keep asking yourself: Where do you notice that pleasure in your body?  And where does that make you want to go next? Give yourself permission to stay curious about the experience.  If it feels bad or wrong, take a break, take a few breaths, and assess whether you need or want to stop. Sometimes, just a short pause can be enough to let yourself relax back into your curiosity.  Even if it’s curiosity about the difficult parts.
  4. Let go of the idea of there being a right and wrong way to be sexually intimate.  If you release yourself from a specific goal, you may have more space to enjoy the experience along the way.  Spending time being curious about your sexual pleasure without a partner nearby might help you learn where your own experience of pleasure takes you.  

Allowing the body to show up to the slightest touch from your own hand, or someone else’s, can give you more permission to learn what you like and what you don’t and put this new information into practice.  There doesn’t need to be a goal or an end-game experience. Being in your body and observing and engaging with the whispers of pleasure that surface might be all you want or need. And that is enough.


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Lisa Katona, LCSW, CST

After earning my Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, I became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). I am also a Certified Sex… Read More