What is Mindful Masturbation & How It Can Teach Your Body New Tricks During Sex?
Written by Alice Child, Somatic Sexologist
Sydney-based Somatic Sexologist and Sex & Intimacy Counsellor Alice Child explains how to spice up your self pleasure game & teach your body amazing new tricks during sex - like multiple orgasms and squirting!
This guide contains general advice only. If you need more tailored advice, please book in a session.
Instead of using masturbation as a form of ‘quick release’, mindful maturation is all about noticing and learning new ways to build pleasure within your body. It sounds crazy, but when we remove the goal of orgasm we learn & feel so much more. Soon you will be able to orgasm without your vibrator or even have multiple orgasms!
Why do I get stuck in my head during sex?
Today, we live in a time where many of us are stuck in our mental world instead of listening to our bodies. There is an inherent disconnect between what the body is experiencing and our ability to feel it.
It is for this reason that so many people struggle to stay ‘in the moment’ during sex. They might find sex ‘boring’, ‘predictable’, or struggle with issues such as reduced sensation, difficulty orgasming, erection difficulty or mental distractions.
What are common distractions during sex?
Common distractions include getting stuck worrying about how you are performing, what you look like, what your partner is thinking, or whether or not you will be able to orgasm, stay hard, or build any arousal at all. You might find your thoughts wandering - thinking about something else entirely! These are what are known as your 'sexual brakes' or your 'core erotic distractions'.
As a Somatic Sexologist, I help people get out of their head, and back into their bodies. This helps people get access to more sensation, pleasure, desire, arousal and ways to reach peak pleasure. One of the ways I do that is through teaching mindful masturbation.
What is mindful masturbation?
Mindful Masturbation is a type of self-pleasure where we deliberately pay attention to what we are feeling physically within our body, instead of focussing on our inner thoughts, fantasies or distractions.
Instead of using masturbation as a form of ‘quick release’ following the same old script, mindful maturation is all about noticing and learning new ways to build pleasure within your body. It may sound crazy, but when we remove the goal of orgasm we learn so much more. Soon you will be able to orgasm without your vibrator for the first time, last longer in bed, or even have multiple orgasms!
Put simply, Mindful Masturbation is about removing orgasm as the goal, breaking old habits, and instead placing curiosity, pleasure, and self discovery as the goal.
Why can masturbation feel boring?
Most of us learn fairly early in life what our body needs sexually. Through trial and error we find out what works, and then stick to it. Overtime, habits form. We start to masturbate in the exact same way every single time, using the same type of touch, toy, porn, fantasy, position and/or hold our breath/muscles in a certain way.
These sexual habits from pathways in our nervous system that become more and more embedded. This is what is known as ‘myelination’. Myelination allows more rapid transmission of neural information along neural fibers. When it comes to sex, this means we can build pleasure and orgasm more quickly and more easily when we use our tried and tested sexual habits.
This all sounds great - so what’s the problem?!
What's the problem with habitual masturbation?
It gets boring -Although these pathways can be useful, overtime we may fall into sexual ruts, and not feel as much pleasure as we used to. People might start experiencing sexual boredom, reduced sensation, less powerful orgasms, difficulty building arousal, and many other sexual concerns.
Worse sex with partners - You also might find it increasingly difficult to build pleasure and arousal in other contexts - such as with a partner, or in different sexual positions or activities. You might believe they simply ‘can’t’ reach orgasm without porn for example, or ‘can’t’ build arousal with a partner - when the reality is you might have never taught their body how to!
What are the benefits of mindful masturbation?
There are many benefits of masturbating or self pleasuring more mindfully. It helps us learn new ways to feel pleasure, increase our orgasmicity, form new neural pathways, and as a result leads to lots of sexual, mental, and physical health benefits.
Increased pleasure, libido, orgasmicity and sensation - When we masturbate mindfully we are teaching ourselves new pleasure pathways. Practicing regularly can lead to increased libido, increased sensation, stronger and more reliable orgasms, and increased arousal/desire.
Less pressure - By removing the goal of orgasm, we are also removing the pressure many people feel during sex and self-pleasure.
Orgasm in new ways - Through practice and curiosity, we can also learn new forms of pleasure we didn’t know we were capable of. Multiple orgasms, whole-body orgasms, breath-orgasms, squirting, prostrate orgasms, orgasming without toys, and much much more!
New pleasure zones -We can discover incredible new erogenous zones on our body that were previously ignored, such as our ears, hips, inner thighs, ribcage, neck, or the back of our knees.
Less reliance on porn and fantasy - Many people rely on their brain to turn them on, through internal fantasies, porn or other erotica. Although these are useful erotic tools, if we become over reliant on them we risk loosing the ability to rely on the sensations in our bodies to build our arousal.
More sensation - Many people feel ‘desensitized’ or 'numb' in certain places, and find it hard to stay present with the sensations they are experiencing. Mindful masturbation helps us reconnect with our body and can even fire the nerve endings back up.
Less reliance on vibrators and toys - Vibrators are amazing at giving people new sensations and ways to build pleasure and arousal in the body. Although there is no evidence that vibrators ‘desensitise’ the nerve-endings in our body, if you use your favourite vibrator every single time you want to build arousal, your body might become reliant on one very specific type of sensation. Over time, you might not be able to reach the same level of pleasure without it.
Last longer in bed and stay hard - Many very common sexual concerns can be improved through mindful masturbation. Erectile difficulty, premature ejaculation,
Learn to orgasm - Many people have never orgasmed before. I always get them to practice self-pleasuring more mindfully and with more variation and curiosity.
Less distracted during sex and intimacy - If you struggle with staying present, mindful masturbation can help you quieten your mind and stay more present and in the moment.
Mental health benefits;
Our mental, physical and sexual health are all all interlinked. When we are having better sex (with others and ourselves), we become healthier, happier, and more connected. The mental health benefits of sex and pleasure can include:
Improved self-esteem and self confidence
Increased feelings of intimacy and connection to those around us
Physical Health Benefits;
Sex and masturbation is also very beneficial to our physical health. Sexual pleasure activates a variety of neurotransmitters, hormones and chemicals that impact not only our brains, but many other organs in our bodies. Physical Health benefits of sex and masturbation include:
Lower blood pressure
Better immune system
Feeling less pain
Improved gut health
What's the science behind mindful masturbation?
Mindful Masturbation is all about breaking habits - learning and discovering new neural pathways that give you and your body pleasure. The ability to form new neural networks in the brain and nervous system is what is known ‘Neuroplasticity’.
How to try mindful masturbation at home?
Remove the goal of orgasm: The first and most important thing is removing the goal of orgasm. Instead, set the intention before any mindful masturbation or self-pleasure practice of curiosity and pleasure. Try and enjoy the journey - not the destination! Many many mindful self pleasure sessions do not end in orgasm.
Carve out daily time. Just like you have to set aside time for your daily workout, you have to do the same for your sexual wellness and pleasure. Try and schedule time every day for some kind of mindful self pleasure - even if it’s just a hot, steamy shower, a self massage or feeling the sun on your face. The more we prioritize and enjoy pleasure, the more long term benefits we will feel.
Set the scene. Think of all the things that make you feel sexier, more present, and more connected to your pleasure, and bring them into your space. Whether that’s candles, incense, fresh bedding, a certain playlist - create a space and a mind-set that makes you feel safe, sexy, and connected to your pleasure. Then do the opposite and identify what makes you feel distracted or discconeccted during sex. Do what you can to reduce them in your space - for example you might turn off your phone or lock the door.
Placement of awareness: Notice where your mind is focused. If you find your mind wandering, gently and without judgment bring your awareness back to what you are noticing physically within your body. What are you noticing? What might make it feel even better?
Change up your touch: The next thing to remember is variation. If you notice yourself falling into sexual habits during masturbation and self touch, try new strokes, speeds, pressure, body positions, toys, incorporate a lube or massage oil, and try new places on your body. Don’t go straight to genital touch - explore other erogenous zones and see what you discover!
Use your Breath: Breath is one of the most powerful tools we have in regulating arousal and pleasure in the body. If you notice yourself holding your breath, or taking small, shallow breaths, try deepening and lengthening your breath and see how this changes what you are noticing in your body.
Add some movement: If one of your sexual habits is staying in still positions (such as lying or sitting down), try and incorporate some movement or new positions to your practices. Gentle tilts of the pelvis in time with your breath, clenching and releasing your pelvic floor muscles, and shaking your entire body are all good things to try as you build arousal. You could also try new positions such as standing up, kneeling upright, or kneeling on hands and knees.
Make some noise! Many people learnt to masturbate quietly as a way to keep what they were doing private from unsuspecting family members or housemates. Intentionally or not, staying silent limits our capacity to really relax and enjoy different sensations. It can also reinforce sexual shame. Practice making different noises during your self pleasure practice, and see how that changes what you experience. Sigh, moan, roar, laugh, hum, scream - do whatever feels good for you!
Finish with stillness - Take 1-2 minutes at the end of every session just to relax and be still. What did you learn? What are you noticing in your body? What might you be curious to try next time?
Enjoy - and never forget the lube!
Alice Child - Somatic Sexologist, Sex Therapy & Sex Counsellor - helps people achieve happier and healthier sex lives through 1:1 sex coaching, couples sex counselling, hens parties, and workshops. Book a session here.