and the opportunity to live a gracious existence”, author unknown.
We want sex. We don’t want sex. We could care less about sex. This represents motivations that initially bring patients through my doors. One partner wants more and the other pushing back and/or completely uninterested. What emerges from these feelings are a multitude of narrations that continue to propel the impulse toward the creation of conflict, frustration, and often anger. In such states of mind, all bets are off that anyone will have their needs met or an intelligent strategy be negotiated to meet each other’s needs.
To embrace sexual well-being, one skillful approach is to utilize our capacity of mindfulness of feelings to examine the stories about what we are really wanting in getting sex or keeping it away. As the mind settles in a relaxed state, deconstructing these stories will most likely lead to the deepest desire to connect and to be seen by your partner. But when we are caught in the physical impulse that drives sexual reactivity (for or against), the conditioned strength and power it holds leaves us caught up in a myopic perception of “gotta get it” or “gotta get away”. In this field of bodily sensations and streams of stories going on below the surface, partners that are in opposition of needs (one wants, the other doesn’t) begin the downward spiral into arguments and conflict. Often one gives in to save peace, only to discover building resentment and bitterness toward their partner. While the other partner is left feeling that somehow what was “won” in the feud now feels vacant and no closer to intimacy as most deeply desired.
How do we actually come closer to having our sexual needs met and feel more deeply connected? It is through developing greater awareness of our habitual tendencies that narrow our perspective and tighten our sense of reality making our partner an object to conquer or get away from or ignore. As we cultivate our awareness and bring presence to what’s going on in such moments, we begin to see how our strategies actually backfire. How the genuine connection we seek escapes our grasping tentacles. Next time you find yourself dwelling on why your sex life isn’t up to par, try this mindfulness practice.
· Settle your body in a relaxed posture and bring your attention to your breath. Scan your body for tension you may be holding and allow each exhalation to release those areas until your body releases into relaxation.
· Now turn your attention to the situation at hand. Notice the stories your thinking is narrating to you. Note how familiar this story sounds. How many times you’ve played that tape over and over, yet your sense of sexual well-being eludes you.
· If you begin to get agitated with this process return your attention to your breath, especially the lower belly. Allow the movements of breathing to be deep and ride the breath with your attention until you feel settled and relaxed again.
· Next investigate your true motivation, intention for seeking sexual contact. Is it purely physical or is there a deeper concern for yourself and your partner that you are yearning for. Allow what emerges with this inquire to come into your awareness. When you feel that you’ve reached a deep sense of what your need is, hold that intention with your breath and say to yourself, may this intention for sexual connection be met (whatever it is that surfaced).
· The next step is sharing this with your partner, when the time is right and they are also in a state to hear this. It is best if both partners are practicing this so there is mutual sharing.
· Remember this exercise is about developing a more skillful means in cultivating genuine sexual experiences. It’s a process, a practice, not a perfection for you or your partner.
Sexual intimacy is the ultimate physical connection we can have with another person (or ourselves). Yet remember that we are not just bodies. We have minds that are awaiting our attention as to participate in a way that brings the mind-body complex into union. As the mind-body complex joins, the possibility of joining with another in a meaningful way is much more of a potential. The sexual experience offers a great potential for deep intimacy and connection. We are equipped with an operating system to fulfill that potential, yet only if cultivated and used with wisdom, skill, and love.