For many years, I was horrible at meditation. I would try to be still, but I’m naturally fidgety. I would try to relax, but my muscles were tense. I would try to focus, but my mind would get distracted.
If there was someone leading the meditation, they would say something like, “Imagine a placid lake, calm and flat as glass.” So I’d do that…and two seconds in, a jet ski would go by. Followed by a motor boat, a pontoon, and a few fish leaping around. In more imaginative moments, the Loch Ness monster would raise its head. #MeditationFail
And yet, Psalms often mentions the benefit of meditating on God’s Word, like this passage:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
Learning to Meditate
Given that I reached “Amen” on maybe 9 of 10 prayers I said, I became determined to learn to meditate. I needed that focus to pray and consider God’s Word.
I downloaded a meditation app. There are several, but I happened to use HeadSpace. The early meditations are really good, but at some point it does get more into Eastern spirituality views. I disregarded that and chose a Scripture or praise to focus on instead. It worked! I learned how to be still, relax, and focus.
Only, I also realized I’d been doing that already—for years and years. Not in my everyday activities, but my sexual intimacy. Much of what I was learning was consistent with what I’d practiced and taught about experiencing pleasure and reaching orgasm in the marriage bed.
The Role of Mindfulness
Meditation is a practice used to achieve mindfulness; that is, “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us” (Mindful.org). Yes, the concept is tied to Buddhist traditions, but they hardly hold the market on being mindful (see Psalm 26:2-3).
Keying in on that notion of being fully present and aware, isn’t that what we hope to have in our sex lives? Don’t we want to feel mindful of what’s happening, so we can savor the affection and pleasure of being with our husband in such an intimate way?
And yet, we struggle. Both external stimuli and internal monologues compete for our attention. We are fidgety, tense, distracted. An inability to relax and focus contributes to many wives being unable to enjoy sex or achieve orgasm.An inability to relax and focus contributes to many wives being unable to enjoy sex or achieve orgasm. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Meditating During Sex
How then can we use the concept of mindfulness and the practice of meditation to increase our awareness and enjoyment during sex? Here are several techniques you can use in the bedroom:
Breathing. Before you begin, take a few deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you exhale, feel your tension release. Then let your breathing return to normal, but attend to those breaths for a little while longer. Just savor the sense of breathing in and out, in and out.
Acceptance of distractions. One of things I previously had wrong was trying to push away distractions. Instead, it’s important to simply accept the stimuli that could pull us away. Take note of what you see or hear (the mess around you, the noise down the hall), accept its existence, and then turn your focus back to where you are and what you’re doing.
The same is true for unrelated self-talk—don’t fight it, but rather recognize it and then turn your attention and mind back to where you want it.
Distractions somehow lose their power when you admit they’re there but just don’t play their game. (Note: I’m not talking about a crying child who really needs your attention, but general distractions.)
Body scan. One meditation technique involves “checking in” with your body by scanning from head to toe. That is, begin at the top of your head, check in with that body part, and move your focus slowly down through your face, your neck, your shoulders, and so on.
You can pair this practice with our view of God’s beautiful creation. That is, as you check in with your body parts, consider how God knit you together (Psalm 139:13-14), think about the form and function of each body part, revel in those places sensitive to touch and sensuality. Again, this can help you get your body ready for arousal and connection.
Mantras. A mantra is a word or sound you repeat to maintain concentration. Yes, I know its Hindu origins, but we’re not using it that way. I’m not suggesting you om your way through sex. (Please don’t.)
Rather, repeating phrases to bring home a message was used in the Bible as well (see Psalm 136 and “His love endures forever”). You can use that same concept to maintain your focus or increase your positivity during lovemaking. Examples:
- You struggle with body image, so you repeat in your mind, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 136:14) to remember the beauty God imparted to you or simply “His desire is for me” (Song of Songs 7:10) to remember that you are beautiful to your husband.
- You were taught that sex is dirty or less-than-spiritual, so you repeat in your mind, “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:7-9) to recognize that God Himself created this act to nurture and express our intimacy.
- You feel selfish at times enjoying sex as much as you do, especially if/when the activity mostly involves your pleasure, so you repeat in your mind, “drink your fill of love” (Song of Songs 5:1), to remind yourself that God encourages us to drink deeply of sexual delight in the marriage bed.
Focal point. Sometimes in meditation, you’re asked to choose a focal point, a place to center your attention. During sex, your focal point will likely change, but it should follow your sense of arousal so that it feels fluid.
For instance, instead of thinking about everything that’s happening during sex, focus on where your husband hand is stroking, how his fingers feel, what your skin underneath senses, what physiological responses you feel inside, etc. As his hand moves, let your focal point follow.
Be fully present in experiencing the sensations his hand, mouth, or penis provide your body. As you near orgasm, focus your attention entirely on that part of your body, just leaning into that focal point.
Prayer. The whole reason I started learning meditation was so I could focus long enough to get all the way through a prayer to “Amen.” Interestingly enough, I’m not sure I reach “Amen” all that more often, but I am more focused in my prayer time.
You can use that same focus to pray in the midst of sex. Yes, you can! (See Praying Before, During, and After Sex.) It probably won’t be a full prayer, but even “Thank you, God” or “Be with me, Lord” is a prayer. You may be surprised to find that calling on God in the midst of lovemaking settles your heart and increases your delight.
Techniques of meditation and mindfulness can help you become more fully present in the moment of lovemaking, so that you can experience arousal, pleasure, and satisfaction as God intended.
16 thoughts on “Mindfulness & Meditation During Sex”
Really helpful today, J!
A fresh way of putting this and a lovely surprise to my morning to read! Thank you!
Meditation was strongly frowned upon growing up in the Church because of its Buddhist origins. It was seen as something that would “open the mind up to the occult” if practiced. Same with yoga for the same reason. I was taught the only thing we as Christians should be meditating on is the Word of God. What would you say to that? Is there a way to practice mindfulness without meditating, or are they one in the same?
I would say that the basic definition of meditation is “to engage in contemplation or reflection,” and meditation is in the Bible. Another example: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). It matters what you meditate on!
I specifically chose activities that are not associated with the Eastern spiritual awareness side of the practice, and I reject that part of meditation/mindfulness. So these are simply tools to help with contemplation or reflection. Surely we don’t believe that Christians can only use tools developed by other Christians. I hope not, or we might all have to stop using our computers or phones or the wheel. And that’s my answer. 🙂
The ancient church has had a contemplative – centering prayer practice for at least the first 16 centuries and it has never been deemed heretical or heterodoxic. Your points of meditating on specific scripture phrases are exactly what the Desert Fathers and Mothers taught.
Thanks for sharing.
Very interesting! I have definitely heard of Centering Prayer, and that’s a great answer for those questions about meditation. Also, I don’t usually approve comments with outside links, but I thought the article on that site was interesting so I’m leaving it. Thanks, Larry!
The Bible tells us to meditate in prayer.
As usual very well put!! Love your explanations concerning Eastern spiritualism and reflections on Biblical meditation! Great post !
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Fantastic article, J!
Like you, my prayers don’t usually reach amen and distraction can definitely be a huge issue during sex. But, these practices are sure ways to help. 🙂
Dear “J” — Thank you for your engaging postings promoting Christian marital intimacy. It’s a needed ministry, given the rampant debasing of sex in dominant culture.
For context, please understand I am a Protestant cross-cultural minister in Asia. I work among a Buddhist community that persecutes Christians. I also regularly practice what some call Christian ‘contemplative’ or ‘spiritual disciplines’ – but NOT Centering Prayer. Therefore, I know experientially the critical distinction between Eastern and Christian meditation forms.
Forgive my impertinence, but your phrasing – even your use of Scripture – suggest some confusion about Christian ‘meditation’ and ‘contemplation’. Your post suggests unfamiliarity with important Protestant spirituality writers & debates regarding Centering Prayer. None of the important Christian spirituality writers are without critics. None write infallibly (of course) and so discernment is required. But at least they write from an unabashedly Christian perspective, and you would not need to cite or refer to non-Christian Eastern spiritism.
A word about ‘Contemplative Outreach.’ Some Trappist writing is highly regarded. But Trappist efforts in Buddhists inter-faith dialog have left some Trappists open to the charge of syncretism. These are the things you should be aware of if you teach using language suggesting Eastern meditative forms and goals. (Yes, I know you distance yourself from it. Still, the forms and goals of mediation as you describe are Eastern, not Christian. If you can’t tell why, that’s a problem.) If you have merely ‘heard of Centering Prayer’ but not the debate surrounding it, then perhaps you might be more guarded in your teaching?
As teacher of God’s word, I will be held to a high standard. Hopefully you will continue growing in understanding of the true nature of Christian meditation, and teach it more accurately.
Last year, I had the privilege of asking a 86-yr-old Benedictine monk what he appreciated most about his monastic life. He said, “That after all this time, Jesus hadn’t given up on me yet.” I was impressed by his sincere humility. I pray that, like him, I never stop growing in faith and understanding. I pray the same for you.
Blessings to you. You’re a skilled and balanced writer on Christian intimacy. I pray you grow in the Christian ‘disciplines’ until you “can reach Amen” in your prayers.
[PS — Just FYI, my intent is not to start an online debate. I do not intend to publicly “call you out.” In fact, I’ve delayed for so long before answering because I wanted to make sure my heart was in the right place first. But I know Buddhist teaching and I know Christians who come from Buddhist cultures. There are serious issues imbedded in your post. I urge your caution. My preference would have been to bring this up with you privately (cf. Mt 18:15, tho I take no personal offense.) . Alas, I have no way to do so. If you decide not to post this, that’s ok. I don’t intend that others see it anyway. Not my point, or purpose. Only please be more prayerful and guarded and seek improved understanding about Christian contemplation and meditation — and the critical differences from Eastern forms. Peace. AMA]
I don’t feel attacked, and I appreciate your distinctions. What I would say is that I write to a primarily English-speaking audience, particularly those in the United States, although I have readers all over the world. I used the information to which I’ve been exposed and was able to obtain where I live, and believe me, I spent quite a bit of time on this particular post, wanting to get it as close to right as I could. That said, I’m no expert in this field, and I never pretend to be a theologian. I don’t ever want to mislead, but as for the “non-Christian Eastern spiritism” concern, I had to speak about that somewhat as it is woven into meditation resources here so very much. And I don’t feel that I was unguarded in my teaching, given that I’m not writing from the perspective of a theologian or pastor. I did as much due diligence as I could, given my resources, and I encourage others to do theirs as well. Even for theologians or pastors, though, no one lesson can cover everything.
Thanks so much your thoughtful response. You’ve piqued my interest, and I hope to look into this subject further. Blessings!
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Thank you for another well-written nicely organized post that was full of great nuggets of wisdom and practical advice like:
“Take note of what you see or hear (the mess around you, the noise down the hall), accept its existence, and then turn your focus back to where you are and what you’re doing.”
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