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Ladies, can we talk? When was the last time you had rock-star sex? If it’s been awhile, recall the last time you had sex without thinking, “I’m fat,” “I hate my thighs,” or, “I’m not doing this right.” The drop in hot sex may be directly linked to the rise in self-critical thoughts. In fact, researchers of a new study at Brown University found that negative internal chatter can keep you from feeling sexual sensations even when you are physiologically aroused. The antidote to all that critical noise: mindfulness training.
In their experiment, researchers found that women who took a 12-week mindfulness meditation course were able to recognize and report their bodies’ responses (“calm,” “excited” or “aroused”) to sexual stimuli (participants looked at erotic slides) significantly faster than at the outset of the study. The women also experienced better attention and less self-judgment, anxiety and depression. The courses included lectures on contemplative practices (breathing, guided imagery and other relaxation practices), plus “meditation laboratories” where the women could put the teachings to work.
Yet Gina Silverstein, the study’s lead researcher, says you don’t need meditation classes to learn how to be more mindful during sex. Here’s her advice:
“You can practice focusing attention on physical sensation at any time to help you home in on your body during sexual situations. Just like training a muscle by working out, you can train your brain by practicing paying attention. Even little things, like noticing the sensation of your feet on the floor while in line for groceries or feeling your hands on the steering wheel when you’re at a red light, are a form of mindfulness. You don’t necessarily need to be on a cushion to practice. Training the brain in these ways can help you more easily shift your focus away from negative self-evaluative thoughts in bed.”
Silencing those inner voices could work as well for your libido as Viagra works for a man’s. That’s because our appreciation for sex is as much mental as physical, which is why scientists haven’t pinpointed a Viagra for women yet. Increasing our physical arousal isn’t enough to increase pleasure and satisfaction -- our mental states must also be accounted for.
Lucky for us, mindfulness practice is free and has broader benefits. “Mindfulness meditation could benefit women not only in the bedroom, but throughout life,” Silverstein says. “Who couldn’t use a little bit more self-compassion?” Next: 13 Ways to Have More Mindful Sex