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5 Steps for a Mindful Approach to Low Libido

I share stories of women using a mindful approach to find their natural sexual vitality. Desire is a hot-house flower; it's complicated and high maintenance. It's not amenable to pat solutions because desire is greater than the lust of our biology; it's an endeavor of the spirit, of our innermost voice longing to shine.
02/29/2016 11:37am ET | Updated March 1, 2017
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Mindfulness practices provide an innovate approach to the pervasive problem of low libido. The goal of mindfulness is a greater awareness of the present moment. When applied to sex, mindfulness enhances pleasure and helps people to get out of their judgmental minds and into the moment. For sexual problems, rather than using titillations to stimulate the sex drive, mindfulness employs the practice of listening to the body. Here are five steps to take that will allow you to tune in to your body to understand why you have the bedroom blues:

1. View the body as a source of knowledge.
Instead of labeling a dry spell as a dysfunction, view it as a source of wisdom. Libido is a barometer; it gauges how you feel about your body, sexuality and relationship. A loss of passion isn't just a condition, it's a message worth investigating. The body is sentient, an important center of perception, emotion and memory -- a valuable source of information. And unlike our minds, which tend to employ denial and distraction, the body tells the truth.

2. Notice the signs of resistance.
The mindful approach begins with paying attention to the sensations that accompany not wanting sex. "Resistance" is a term from psychology used to indicate that the unconscious mind is at work, typically warding off anxiety. Here, I use the word to indicate that our innermost, authentic self is actually producing anxiety. My clients report common signs that are often vague and confusing. In fact, you may intend to sleep with your partner, then experience an unexpected onset of muscle tension and irritability or you may suddenly feel sleepy, foggy or numb. Disgust, shame or anxiety may show up.

3. Be curious.
Rest a gentle, non-judgmental awareness upon the body's sensations. Attention will often bring clarity. Be open to the idea that resentment, disappointment or other feelings might emerge. There can be a tendency to sweep these sentiments under the rug, but they do not have to pose a threat to your relationship. By allowing normal negative emotions to be present, they can serve as a guide to what your relationship needs for growth.

4. Honor the resistance.
Sex is not a duty. It's easy to ignore the self in service of pleasing your partner by going through the motions, but your partner likely suffers from this uninspired sex as well. There is typically a longing behind the resistance. Ask yourself: What are your unmet needs? If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for? What fantasies or daydreams do you notice? Consider these as symbols, metaphors and messages of the soul. Low libido can be an indicator that your voice is missing. It's time to make sure that you're getting what you want out of sex and not simply following your partner's scripts.

5. Share the resistance with your partner.
Likely, he or she is aware that you've checked out and senses the disconnection. Try statements like: "I feel blocked," or "I'm checking out. Perhaps I need to explore what I'm feeling." Be curious about what your partner feels as well. Try asking, "Where are you right now?" With "I" statements and a non-judgmental approach, this conversation doesn't have to be intimidating. In fact, your partner may experience this honesty as a relief. The tension will have an opportunity to be cleared and intimacy restored.

Resistance is a protest of the soul, a sign that its natural exuberance, creativity and eroticism are shut down. In my new book, The Women on My Couch, I share stories of women using a mindful approach to find their natural sexual vitality. Desire is a hot-house flower; it's complicated and high maintenance. It's not amenable to pat solutions because desire is greater than the lust of our biology; it's an endeavor of the spirit, of our innermost voice longing to shine.