We get it -- sometimes after a long day dealing with the slings and arrows of the corporate world and parenting, the last thing on your mind is getting some. But there may be a way to increase your libido and lower your stress all at the same time: meditation.
Huff/Post 50 spoke with Jill Blakeway, who wrote the book (or at least a chapter) on how meditation can increase libido for both men and women in her latest work "Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido."
What's the history behind using meditation to increase libido?
The ancient Taoists in China were writing about sex 2,000 years ago and I consulted those texts when I was writing my book. One of the things I learned from them is a variety of meditational techniques to intensify sexual pleasure and connection. I think this link between meditation and sex is important because sexuality is closely linked to spirituality.
At some level human beings have a sense that we are all connected, but one of the few ways they experience that "oneness" is through sex. Good sex opens our hearts and connects us to another person; the feeling of bliss we experience is meditative in nature and similar to some mystical or spiritual states. Orgasm and meditation affect the brain in similar ways. Both decrease our sense of self-awareness and stop our mental chatter allowing us to briefly experience ourselves outside of our egos.
How does meditation increase libido?
Sexual desire begins with being open to your own sexual energy, and sexual connection begins with being open to receiving someone else’s sexual energy. Meditating and in particular focusing on your breath is a way to anchor your attention in your body, so you can feel your own sexual energy ... [and] receive energy from someone else.
A simple breathing meditation, consciously focusing on your breath, can be a powerful way to cultivate and circulate, move and direct, your qi (life energy) -- and your sexual energy. Breathing can relieve stress and calm the mind; [it can] even lower blood pressure. Breathing circulates oxygen throughout the body, increasing your desire for -- and receptivity to -- sex. Equally important, focusing on your breath makes you aware of your body and what it is feeling.
Many of my patients tell me they never feel like having sex and some say they never even think about sex. Others have a hard time focusing during sex and get distracted. That distraction stops them [from] enjoying sex as much as they could. It's hard to have an orgasm if you are focused on tomorrow's to-do list. Meditation helps train your mind to stay present so that you can focus on the sensations your body is experiencing. When my patients do that they find that they do feel like having sex, they just haven't noticed because their minds are so distracted that they are not aware of the sensations going on in their bodies. They also find that meditation helps them stay present during sex so that they enjoy it more.
Is there a difference in how this affects women and men?
Female orgasm has a greater mental and emotional component, so being easily distracted can make orgasm difficult for women. So learning some breathing and meditation techniques can really help women enjoy sex more.
Some of my male patients think breathing and meditating for better sex is a bit of a waste of time, and who can blame them? However, their ears perk up when I tell them that some of the ancient Taoist meditation exercises are specifically designed to intensify and extend male orgasm. [These exercises can also] help them control the timing of orgasm, so a man can last as long as he wants to. The ancient Taoists were really interested in male orgasm, and much of their texts are devoted to helping men perfect the way [they] do it. The Three Locks and The Loop are both mediative exercises and I explain them fully in "Sex Again." They are two of the key meditations for men to enhance their sexual pleasure. The Three Locks is a way of using the mind and breathing to anchor sexual energy in the body. Anytime a man uses the Three Locks just before orgasm, he will deepen the orgasm. It can also be used to delay orgasm.
The Loop can help to delay male orgasm (for instructions on how to do The Loop, visit Blakeway's earlier post on Huff/Post50). It's a useful meditation to know as a way of dealing with premature ejaculation or simply for fun. During sexual activity of whatever sort, energy tends to build up in the pelvis around the genitals, and at some point it will overwhelm the ability to control ejaculation. Circulating that energy through the body by doing The Loop lessens the focus on ejaculation and concentrates the energy where it’ll provide the most intense experience.
What's the best way to get started?
People who are new to meditation should start with a simple breathing meditation where you focus on breathing into the abdomen and then exhaling, letting the breath go. Simply breathing in and out also helps balance yin and yang (breathing in is considered yin, while breathing out is yang, so abdominal breathing unites the two). It helps you find your center.
Doing belly breathing also brings breath and energy into the lower abdomen -- the dan tien, the sexual center. Tuning in to sensations in that area is a great way to tap into your sexual energy and increase sexual response and satisfaction.
Any tips for meditation novices or those who haven't thought of meditation as a libido increaser?
I'd start really simply by using meditation and the power of your mind to bring sex to the forefront of your mind. Where your mind goes, your qi follows. That’s a guiding principle of Chinese medicine -- and the whole point of this simple yet powerful meditation exercise.
This exercise is about as easy as it gets: All you do is spend just several minutes thinking about sex. If you have a partner, think specifically about having sex with your partner. The only rule is: Good thoughts only. Run over a previous encounter in your mind. Plan a future encounter. Imagine finally telling your partner exactly what you really want -- and getting it! You can do this in traditional meditation fashion, say, while sitting quietly with eyes closed. But you can also do it while work ng out on the treadmill, or stuck in traffic, or walking down the street. As long as you spend a few minutes with positive thoughts of your sex life front and center, you’re doing it right.
Is meditation as a libido booster something you can do with your spouse or partner? How?
In "Sex Again" I give examples of several meditations you can do with a partner. My patients love an exercise called Morning and Evening Meditation, which is meant to promote connection separate and apart from intercourse. It also puts focus on closeness, harmony within oneself, relaxation, intimacy and a feeling of oneness with another person. It moves qi, and nourishes yin. It’s a quiet moment in your day -- a form of meditation. In the morning it enlivens and in the evening it relaxes.
Here’s how you do it:
Begin with a bit of foreplay warm-up to get to the point where there’s enough lubrication to allow for penetration. Use lube as needed. Embrace in the missionary position. The man should penetrate and use just enough movement to maintain an erection, but not enough to ejaculate. Actually, it doesn’t even matter if you maintain an erection -- once you are in, the both of you can just hold still. Just experience being there. And that’s all there is to it. Continue for as long as you both like -- just a few minutes is fine -- sharing and enjoying the stillness between you. Advanced version of this involved synchronized breathing but just being peaceful and present is good for beginners.