Does masturbation count as a mindfulness exercise?

If so, we’re all about to be much more grounded

If you’re trying to figure out what mindful masturbation means, start by thinking about the exact opposite of opening scene of American beauty. In the morning, the main character, Lester Burnham, jerks off miserably in the shower, without the slightest ounce of romance, just pure utility. Then he utters what might be the saddest line in the history of the cinematic boner: “This will be the highlight of my day. It’s all downhill from here.”

The scene’s general lack of Zen may help explain why some meditation circles border on fap-free communities. But proponents of tantric sex suggest that masturbation can be a type of meditation in itself. Likewise, there are countless studies that have shown that masturbation can reduce stress, reduce insomnia and relieve physical pain. And yet, you can find almost as many claims on the internet that masturbation can lead to everything from Blurred vision for hair loss. From a liability perspective, it makes sense that physicians should not prescribe vibrators for hysteria more, but it’s still unclear if masturbation can be a helpful mental health exercise.

sex therapist Alexandria Saunders, who teaches and practices tantric sex and yoga, believes that masturbation can absolutely be a mindful practice, but it depends on how you do it. If you masturbate for the purpose of connecting with yourself and feeling pleasure, then mindful masturbation is for you. If the goal is just to have an orgasm, like old Lester, then you’re putting pressure on a future experience that may or may not happen, which is the opposite of being present or practicing mindfulness.

In other words, if you’re trying to cum while jerking off, you’re doing it wrong.

“Orgasm and ejaculation are two separate experiences,” Saunders tells me. The goal of tantric teachers like her is to untangle these experiences. In the context of tantric sex with another person, we tend to think of what Saunders describes as “edging”, but when flying solo, she likes to think of it as “Masterbation” or “Mediumbation”, because not only do you master masturbation, but you also almost meditate.

Although women generally have more experience with sex without orgasm or ejaculation, men who are more advanced in tantric sex can also learn how to fully orgasm without ejaculation, a technique called sperm retention, or having a “dry orgasm.” But for beginners who just want to masturbate more mindfully, Saunders recommends “becoming less goal-oriented” about masturbating without focusing on an outcome.

There is a scientific basis for the mental health benefits of learning to orgasm without ejaculating, psychiatrist Loren Olson Explain. When men reach the point of “ejaculatory inevitability,” he tells me, they reach the “point of no return, even if your mother or the pope walks into the room while it’s happening.” Dopamine, a neurotransmitter needed to experience pleasure, peaks just before this, as the anticipation is so high that “it almost becomes a transcendental experience.” On the other hand, when ejaculation occurs, there’s usually “a sudden drop in dopamine, and therefore pleasure,” says Olson. This is also why some people can become sad after sex.

Of course, not every guy wants to start doing kegels or study tantric sex in order to masturbate more mindfully (but here’s lots of resources for how to do just that). For everyone else, Saunders and Olson agree that the key to mindful masturbation isn’t trying so hard and treating yourself like you would ideally treat a sexual partner — with more emphasis on the journey than the destination. .

And hey, if destination is (understandably) important to you, there are plenty of other ways to practice mindfulness that don’t involve masturbation either.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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