Mindful masturbation: beyond the hype
While mindful masturbation may have fallen victim to some form of hype, we shouldn’t dismiss it as the wellness trend du jour.
Mindfulness + masturbation = mindful masturbation?
Mindfulness 101: a quick refresherExplained in rather simple terms, “mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.” This definition, courtesy of leading app Headspace, touches upon the fundamental aspect of setting any expectation aside; we do not engage in meditation to reach an outcome of benefit, meditation itself is the benefit. More than a state, mindfulness is a skill that requires some form of training. The best way we know how to train it? Through meditation. (If you haven’t done it yet, follow our special guided meditation.) More than relaxing with our eyes closed and some form of soothing music in the background, meditation is a powerful exercise in the art of observation; it is less about emptying our minds of thoughts and more about observing them.
What does mindful masturbation actually involve?
Because it can be a way to bridge a gap, the orgasm gap, masturbation is often approached with a goal-oriented mindset as opposed to an expectation-free practice. The point of mindful masturbation is to take the pressure off, to experience arousal without the anxiety that can come from following established scripts (that almost invariably always culminate in mind-blowing orgasms).
It also acts as an invitation to judge less and observe more. As social animals, we are profoundly judgemental creatures, and the judgment often falls on ourselves; in the sexual realm, we judge everything from how our body looks (and the face we might make when climaxing) to how well we are performing as a partner (to others or ourselves). Training our minds to observe, by choosing touch and pleasurable sensations as a focal point, means slowing down and truly being in the moment.
A mindful mindset can act as a powerful healing tool to a number of sexual issues ranging from poor body image to anxiety, trauma and even genital pain.
Keen to explore? Two ways to practice mindful masturbationWhile there are no rules and intuition plays a major role, there are ways for beginners and skeptics to approach mindful masturbation. As with any practice, it takes consistency, and experts in the matter advise scheduling up to 2 sessions a week, on days when we are under no time constraint and can create the right atmosphere.
Method #1: Pleasure mappingThis is all about uncovering what gives us pleasure by experimenting with different types of touch across different areas. This taps into the distinction between psychological and physical arousal: while the former is what turns us on, what we fantasise about, be it an act, a person or a context, the latter is about how we enjoy being touched and what actually gives us pleasure during sex. Because there almost never is a perfect juxtaposition between the two and fantasies do not necessarily generate pleasure, learning to distinguish between the psychological and the physical is key. Just like taste, touch can be explored by taking a number of variables into account. Here are some of the aspects we can focus on:
- Pressure: how pressure is being applied at any given moment
- Friction: if the contact point is in motion, how much friction is applied
- Speed: how fast the point of contact (finger or hand, for example) is moving
- Angle: which direction the contact is coming from and pointing towards
- Pattern: whether it follows a consistent pattern, random bursts or waves (being brought close and then back down)