Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment; while the term has typically been applied to mental wellbeing, it has now slowly transmogrified its way into intimacy.
‘Mindful sex’ might sound like the premise for an episode of Black Mirror-meets-Sex and the City, but the concept is fairly simple: have sex and think of nothing else i.e. do not allow your mind to drift into to-do list territory as your partner is about to climax.
According to sex and relationship therapists, practising mindful sex can significantly boost physical and emotional health by enabling people to fully focus on their bodily sensations, resulting in a more rewarding sexual experience.
Much like meditation, mindful sex is about focusing in on the minutiae of what you are doing at the particular moment in time: zoning in on the here and now as opposed to the before and after.
“It is about allowing and giving yourself the time and space to enjoy and experience the sex you are having,” explains Kate Moyle, psychosexual and relationship psychotherapist.
“Being present is key – so often in life we are distracted and rarely give something our full attention, meaning that we miss out on so much,” she tells The Independent.
Our reluctance to focus on one thing at a time could be particularly detrimental when it comes to sex and could be behind the growing numbers of sexual dissatisfaction in the UK, something that is prevalent in millennial women.
In June, a Public Health England survey revealed that 49 per cent of 25 to 34-year-old women reported a lack of sexual enjoyment.
One reason for the widespread lack of sexual satisfaction, as suggested by couples therapist Diana Richardson, whose TEDx talk on ‘The Power of Mindful Sex’ has been viewed more than 180,000 times, could be that too many of us perceive sex as an exclusively goal-orientated exercise.
Viewing sex as a means to an end via orgasm can create performance anxiety and lead to a lack of intimacy, she says.
This is the opposite of what mindful sex propagates, which Richardson describes as “more like you being sex rather than having sex”.
Re-framing your perception of sex in this manner can be incredibly liberating, alleviating all sorts of anxieties one has about sexual prowess and body image, explains award-winning sex and relationships expert Alix Fox.
“People who are having more mindful sex themselves are also more likely to be better partners, and offer more satisfaction in the sack,” she tells.
Fox works with Japanese sex toy brand Tenga, who recently produced a ‘Global Pleasure Report’ which surveyed over 13,600 respondents aged 18-74 over 18 countries.
It found that men who, as they put it, ‘feel more’ – those who are more in touch with and expressive of their emotions; more comfortable and connected with their bodies; and more compassionate and empathetic towards others – received far more positive reviews of their ‘erotic abilities’ from lovers, Fox explains.
These findings go against archaic stereotypes of masculinity, which advocate stoicism and emotional detachment with regards to sex.
“The suggestion here is that both partners would benefit better from feeling able to be more honestly in touch with themselves. Practising mindfulness can help greatly with that,” she adds.
In terms of how one can have sex mindfully, it’s not as simple as saying a few “oms” prior to penetration.
“Pay a lot of attention to how your body is responding during sex,” advises Peter Saddington, counsellor and sex therapist at relationship support charity Relate.