We can all agree that stress isn’t making our sex any better. In fact, the havoc it wreaks on our bodies and minds is responsible for the age-old excuses like feeling too tired, having a headache, not being in the mood or that paunch that’s making you feel less sexy. But consider this: stress is bad for our sex lives; meditation eliminates stress. You do the math.
Emily spoke with everup.com this week about the biological link between meditation, stress, and achieving mind-blowing sex, complete with practical applications for the bedroom (or kitchen floor, or shower, or…) excerpted below.
The Neuroscience Behind Meditation and Sex (or Lack Thereof)
At the beginning of a recent Sex and Meditation event in New York City, Ziva founder Emily Fletcher posed a simple question to the group: “Think of the sexiest person you can. Now name the attributes of the person that came to mind.”
Some of the answers offered up by the crowd included: confidence, grace, strength, an “I don’t give a damn” attitude (which Fletcher reframed as detachment before throwing in “giant tits” for good measure.)
Stressed out, frazzled, scatterbrained, and high-strung didn’t make the cut. Shocking, we know.
As Fletcher bluntly put’s it: “Stress isn’t sexy.” And when we think of de-stressing and getting ourselves to a mental state where we can embody all of these qualities that we do find so sexy in others, suddenly a natural connection arises between meditation and the quality of our sexual experience.
The Side Effects of Stress
In order to see the role that meditation can play in supercharging our sex lives, it’s important to back track and first acknowledge the ways in which stress is negatively affecting our minds and our bodies (which is inevitably creating an environment that is not conducive to having—or enjoying—sex.)
According to Fletcher, “when we are under stress, we’re distracted because we are so in our left brain, and it increases our cortisol levels which leads to premature aging and storing body fat.”
In addition, studies have linked chronic stress to cardiovascular problems, obesity and diabetes, inflammation, and genetic and cellular deterioration. It also decreases productivity and life satisfaction, increases risk of depression, and leads to low energy, headaches and yes, loss of sexual desire or ability.
In our fast-paced world, with calendars packed to the brim, traffic jams, and 12-hour-workdays, it’s hard, if not impossible, to avoid. The key then becomes better managing the stress when we do encounter it.
At a basic level, “the more we can reduce stress, the better we feel in our bodies, which affects how confident we feel,” said Fletcher. And as meditation is a proven way to reduce the effects of stress on the body and better cope with it as it arises in our daily lives, meditating has just become an intriguing addition to your foreplay routine.
Have More Sex: How Meditation Can Help
Before delving into how meditation can enhance our sexual experience once we’ve already made the decision to take the leap (into bed), Fletcher noted that meditation helps to combat some of the more specific side effects of stress that are preventing you from wanting to have sex in the first place:
You’re too tired. “One in four cohabitating couples say the number one reason they are not having sex is because they are too tired,” said Fletcher. “We give your jobs everything, then we come home put on sweatpants, watch Game of Thrones, and pass out.”
“The meditation that I conduct at Ziva gives your body rest that is two to five times deeper than sleep. A 20-minute meditation is equal to a 90-minute sleep cycle. So you may just have the energy to get your freak on later that night.”
You have a headache. “I have had an 80 to 90 percent success rate with meditation and improving migraines,” said Fletcher. “Actually, if you masturbate right when you feel a migraine coming on you can stop it altogether.”
Stress: The Ultimate Turn-Off
Now, once you actually find yourself half naked on the way to the bedroom, the presence of stress can immediately put a damper on the experience.
“Many people, men especially, say that stress fuels them at work, that they need it; but the flight or fight response makes you stupid,” said Fletcher. “Our blood coagulates, our bladder and bowels empty, (you know, the nervous poos you get before a presentation?), our adrenaline and cortisol levels increase, and your immune system goes on the back burner.”
These bodily reactions are good for you if your demands are hungry tigers, not if your demands are your in-laws, traffic, or a date (and possible booty call).
And if you do schedule in some sexy time, the chances are high that there won’t be a happy ending: “If women have too much cortisol in their system they are physically incapable of orgasming,” said Fletcher. “Same with men for adrenaline.”
Meditation as Foreplay
Now to the real-world application. Aside from developing a daily meditative practice of your own to help keep stress out of the bedroom, Fletcher provided some more specific exercises that you can rely on before sexual encounters to open yourself up to the environment and the experience, and bring yourself into the present moment. Make these a part of your pre-sex ritual and you may be able to describe the experience as raw and animalistic yourself.
“Come to Your Senses”
This silent practice is about sensory perception. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and your hands on your knees. Begin to mentally run through each of the five senses—sight, smell, sound, touch, taste—tapping into the environment around you. What do you see, even with your eyes closed? Complete darkness? The sunlight coming through the window? What do you smell? What sound is most prominent in the room? Is it traffic outside? The air conditioner? What is the faintest sound you can hear? What do you feel? The floor or a pillow beneath you? Your clothes hanging on your body, your hair tickling your ears? What taste do you have in your mouth? Then, focus on all of them at once, completely immersing yourself in the present moment. The exercise will have you feeling slightly more alert and alive—and help you shake off the stress of the day—before engaging in sexual activity.
A Partner Exercise
This exercise is about establishing a bond with your partner; creating that sense of generosity and openness. Face your partner, place your right hand on their heart and have them do the same. Then, both of you place your left hand on top of the other persons (on top of your heart) and stare into each others eyes. It may be uncomfortable, but continue to hold eye contact even if any laughter or nervousness arises. Then, prompt each other to think of what the other’s biggest dream or goal is and concentrate on bottling that up and giving that to them. With a deep inhale and exhale, think of your breath filling them with this dream, as well as love. And then feel open to receive what they are breathing into you. After a few minutes, when it feels natural to break away, finish with a hug, and then … take this fresh connection to the bedroom.