According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, 43% of women and 31% of men are affected by sexual dysfunctions, some of which can be attributed to mental and psychological concerns. Distraction during sex is a common experience for many people.
Whether it stems from work-related concerns, worries about what your partner is thinking and feeling during sex, or simply not being present in the moment, distraction can lead to dissatisfaction and lack of pleasure for both partners. Spectatoring is a term coined by sex therapists to describe this common experience.
Fortunately, we can navigate this during sex therapy. Together we can support you in connecting with yourself and your partner.
Sensate Focus and Paying Attention to Touch
Masters and Johnson (1970) are the proponents of “Sensate Focus,” a technique considered a fundamental part of sex therapy. It involves structured and gradual touching between partners, starting with non-genital touch and progressing to more pleasure-focused touch in later stages.
The goal is to focus on sensual awareness and pleasure rather than sexualizing touch. During sensate focus, partners are encouraged to be fully present with each other’s touch and provide feedback to communicate their reactions.
Masters and Johnson’s study found that the practice of Sensate Focus can help to reduce distractions during sex, increase mutual pleasure, and improve overall satisfaction in sexual relationships. With this technique, people learn to focus more on the sensations of their partner’s touch and become more attuned to their responses.
The Wonders of Mindful Sex
Although Masters and Johnson never used the term “mindfulness” when describing sensate focus, the practice embodies many principles of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an empowering, fundamental human capacity to embrace the present moment, cultivating a heightened awareness of our surroundings and activities.
When applied to sex, mindfulness entails being fully engaged in the pleasure of both partners and paying attention to the sensations you experience during sexual activities. By being mindful during sex, you can heighten pleasure and satisfaction while becoming more in tune with yourself and your partner’s sensations.
This approach facilitates better communication between partners about their desires, fostering trust and increasing pleasure for both parties involved. Additionally, mindful sex can help people become more aware of their own bodies and the pleasure they experience during partnered touch and connection.
How to Practice Mindfulness in Sex: The Importance of Rituals to Help Us Focus
Mindfulness is not limited to sexual activity alone—it is a skill that can be cultivated. It is important to have rituals that help us focus on our lives and bodies. These rituals enable us to savor pleasure when we fully attend to the present moment.
Here are some rituals to practice mindfulness in your sex life:
- Take a few moments before getting intimate to focus on your breath and relax your body. This will help you stay present in the moment.
- Pay attention to the sensations that arise throughout sexual activities and communicate them with your partner.
- Observe the emotions that surface during sex and explore ways of expressing them safely within the relationship.
- Use mindful touch when exploring each other’s bodies, focusing on what feels good, and take time to enjoy it fully without rushing or trying to achieve a certain outcome.
- Be aware of the connection between your body and mind during sex and how it can affect the pleasure you experience.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds of touch—it can be a great way to explore each other’s boundaries and discover new pleasure points.
- Take some time after engaging in sexual activities to reflect on what was pleasurable for you and your partner and why.
Learn to Become More Present During Moments of Intimacy
By bringing mindfulness into your sex life, you can enhance satisfaction and mutual pleasure for yourself and your partner. Ultimately, this will lead to more satisfying sexual experiences without distraction or performance worries.
At PNW Sex Therapy Collective, we help clients become more present during moments of intimacy through sex therapy. Our telehealth and in-person therapy sessions are designed to help you stay grounded during sex without diminishing the pleasure it brings you and your love life.
Book an appointment with one of our sex therapists today.