Your Mind in Sex
The next step in awareness is to recognize what is going on in your mind. It is commonly noted that the brain is the most potent sexual organ you have, and it can turn you off as easily as it can turn you on. Listen as you talk" to yourself before, during, and after sex, and you will gain important insights about how your thoughts are creating your reality:
- Since your thoughts assign meaning to sex, your body will follow suit.
- Preoccupations with performance and expectations take you out of the here and now and build tensions.
- Your fears can freeze you.
- Your guilt and anxiety can stifle your pleasure.
- Your judgments can easily lead to dissatisfaction.
You can use your brain in the service of sex, as you have in other areas of wellness. As you become aware of the "voices" (your own or others) that fill your head, they can serve as cues to come back to the here and now, to focus on the part of the body being touched, to breathe deeply and allow sexual feelings to carry through your whole body, to open all your sensory pathways to increase your pleasure many times over.
For many people, reading erotic literature or watching sexually explicit films can be extremely provocative and helpful in breaking through fear or shame. (For others, these activities may have the opposite effect. Personal preference is always the foremost consideration.) Sexual fantasies, once a taboo subject, now are often recommended for the powerful effects they can have on the body. Allowing yourself to experiment in these areas may be as beneficial as allowing your own touch.
Throughout the process of developing or enhancing awareness in body and mind, remember to appreciate your limits and your degree of comfort, and to be compassionate. Take small, slow steps and celebrate each new awakening.
Programs abound that deal specifically with restructuring sexual attitudes, heightening awareness and sensitivity, and coping with sexual blocks or physical problems. If sex is a conflict area for you, you can take the next step by reading the other articles in this section, and seeking the support of others in the available programs.* Self-responsibility means never staying stuck.
* For information on available programs, contact Sexual Attitude Restructuring (SAR), Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, 1523 Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, (415) 928-1133, www.iashs.edu; Masters and Johnson, Relational & Sex Therapy, Sexual Trauma and Compulsivity, 16216 Baxter Rd., Chesterfield, MO 63017, (314) 781-1112; or Albert Ellis Institute, 45 E. 65th St., New York, NY 10021, (800) 323-4758 or (212) 535-0822, www.rebt.org.