Mindful Sex: Be Present in the Bedroom


Mindfulness in the Bedroom

Guest Writer: Molly Adler, LISW-in-Training

It is common in our stressed-out, fast-paced world to find your mind wandering during sex. While we may be physically in the room, we may not be fully present. Many women and men find their minds wander during sex.

Mindfulness is about keeping your focus on the moment. Mindfulness is a fundamental, simple, and accessible practice that can help you be more emotionally and mentally present, allowing for a deeper intimate connection with yourself and your partner.  Its roots are in Buddhist meditation, and secular practice was popularized in the U.S., partly through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, launched in 1979.

Most people define some element of sex with performance. There’s pressure to please your partner, to look good, and to have an orgasm (or two). The reality is that attitude toward sex only puts more pressure on us to worry. Research has shown that both men and women worry about performance anxiety during sex. Additionally, in our image-obsessed culture, women find themselves worried about their appearance more than men. Most of us probably aren’t surprised by this fact. Unfortunately, when we are focused on our performance or appearance, we are not focused on physical sensations or pleasure. There are many of us who struggle with low self esteem, memories of trauma or negative past sexual experiences, so it makes sense that our minds might want to go elsewhere.

Mindfulness in the bedroom involves awareness and acceptance.

That means the priority is on accepting one’s self and what’s happening in the moment. Mindfulness can be especially helpful for women who have survived sexual trauma. “Although dissociation may have evolved as an adaptive strategy to allow [a sexual abuse victim] to cope with the abhorrent acts subjected upon her, disconnection between genital and psychological arousal during consensual sexual activity as an adult has a direct negative effect upon sexual response and satisfaction.”[1] It’s like your mind needs to unlearn what helped you survive trauma in order to enjoy positive sexual experiences again.

A key ingredient to mindful awareness is non-judgement. When being mindful in the bedroom, if your mind does wander, mindful practice allows you to acknowledge any distraction without struggling to avoid it, and simply let the distraction go. The negativity and self-blame that may typically accompany feeling distracted can dissipate, and focus simply returns to the moment at hand. This means we won’t end up in a cycle of distraction and then self-talk about how we wish we weren’t distracted. That only leads to more worry and anxiety.

If you’ve never tried mindfulness techniques, you can start with a body scan meditation to get the idea. If you want to try a mindful practice for sex, you may want to try it by yourself first. Practice the same sort of presence of mind and awareness of breath you may have tried in the body scan meditation while touching your body or taking a bath. Bringing the non-judgemental awareness to your body when you’re naked or practicing self-love can help you bring mindfulness into sex with others, as well.



[1] Brotto, L. A., Seal, B. N., & Rellini, A. (2012). Pilot study of a brief cognitive behavioral versus mindfulness-based intervention for women with sexual distress and a history of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 38(1), 1-27.

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