Whole Life Magazine

February/March 2014

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Page 12 of 43

By Wendy Strgar Simple awareness can transform the mundane to sublime T he practice of mindfulness originated within Buddhist tra- ditions but has been adapted into a healing modality for a wide range of illnesses. Impressive study results confi rm the power of focusing our attention with intention for improving biological functioning on everything from cancer recovery and immune response to chronic pain and depression. Recent stud- ies by Canadian sexologist Lori Brotto applied the technique of mindfulness to sexual dysfunction with heartening results. Brotto's research shows that many sexual dysfunction symptoms aren't generally caused by physiological wiring problems, but more often by a mind-body disconnect. "We spend far too much time worrying about whether we're 'normal' or good enough," says Brotto. "Mindfulness is about cutting out that kind of noise and tapping into what your body is doing." Applying the practice of mindfulness to our intimate ex- periences is healing, not only because we commit ourselves to being fully present, but also because we do so with nonjudg- mental eyes and a gentle heart. Often the disconnect in the natural sexual libido comes as a result of the overthinking that our unspoken sexual insecurities and fears create. It doesn't really matter what kind of anxiety you bring to the bedroom, whether it is performance anxiety or fears about achieving orgasm; as soon as the mind starts spinning, you leave the present moment and trigger the physiological fl ight/fi ght response, which makes it impossible to focus on the sensations in your body. Thoughts of work, family concerns or body issues literally take you away from the visceral experience of contact. You actually lose feeling in your body, which could be useful in a survival situation, but not in an intimate one. For- get about arousal; you might not even feel someone pinch you when you are lost in a mind spinning out of control. The most powerful way to quiet the mind and bring yourself into the moment is to rely on your senses. Sensual- ity, which is the cornerstone of a healthy libido response as well as a passionate connection to life, is no more compli- cated than focusing your attention on connecting to all of your senses deeply. Happily it is in the smallest of sensa- tions that the practice of mindfulness comes alive. Consider and appreciate the myriad ways your olfac- tory senses are activated, whether it is the fragrance of a blooming paperwhite lily or the rich aroma of hot choco- late that brings you into your body. Likewise, savor the many fl avors life offers. Don't eat and run; eat and taste. Breathe and taste. Explore foods and scents of different cultures. Allow the experience of touch to transform your time with the person you love most. How does her erect nipple feel to your fi ngertips? How do the ridges on his penis feel against your belly? As your bodies move together, focus on the many points of contact. You can transform an intimate moment by simply feeling the weight of your partner's hands on your lower abdomen. Running your fi ngers through her hair or tracing his face with your lips are small gestures that bring you fully into presence with your lover. When your senses are heightened, the time you share with your lover is richer and records more deeply in your memory, making it easier to access your libido over time, not to mention during your frustrating morning commute. Keep in mind that mindfulness is a practice and learning to stay focused on the sensations you experience with your partner can be more challenging than it sounds. Incorporating some other brief practice sessions on your own will aid you in letting go of distracting thoughts that come up when practic- ing with a partner. A fi nal benefi t of bringing mindfulness to your intimate relationships is that the practice itself cultivates a gentleness and kindness that makes compassion automatic between you. Where better to hold our attention than fully on the one we love. Wendy Strgar, teacher and loveologist, is the founder and CEO at Good Clean Love, makers of Almost Naked 95 per- cent-organic lubricant. MINDFUL PLEASURE sex talk february/march 2014 13 WLT-FEB-MAR-1-30.indd 13 1/30/14 1:10 AM

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