The concept of “mindfulness”
has become widespread across many fields. Mindful parenting, mindful eating,
mindful writing, mindful walking. Mindful leadership. Mindful listening. And,
yes, mindful sex.
Mindfulness describes the
process of bringing one’s attention into the present moment. While the term may
be somewhat new, having been introduced in the last quarter of the 20th
century by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh and his student, American author JonKabat-Zinn, it is NOT a new concept.
The word itself, mindfulness,
was coined by a Buddhist scholar, TW Rhys Davids, over a hundred years ago. It
was his attempt to translate into English this thousands-year-old practice of
turning one’s mental attention to whatever sensory experience is going on,
rather than focusing on thoughts that take us out of the moment.
As a practitioner of the Japanese
martial art of Aikido, I became very familiar with this practice. To perform
Aikido well, one cannot allow oneself to be hijacked by thoughts. The word
“mindfulness” had not yet become mainstream. We used terms like “centering” and
Centering puts us into our bodies and grounds us. Energy
awareness in Aikido invites us to notice and blend with what’s going on, from
that centered place, making us more skilled.
Paying attention in a “martial”
art turns out to be not so dissimilar from paying attention in the more personal
“marital” art of love. Bringing centering and energy awareness into the bedroom
also makes us more skilled.
Tantra, an ancient spiritual teaching from India, enhances
sexuality by providing a framework of mindfulness for these most intimate
On the Aikido mat, there are
direct and knowable consequences depending on whether we move in a way that is
mindful and centered, or not. In bed, there are also consequence. Greater
pleasure and more feelings of intimate bonding with one’s partner are the most
It would seem simple to pay
attention to what’s physically going on during sex. Yet, in spite of the many sensory
sensations that lovemaking provides, we are often distracted, disengaged from
the delight itself. As the poet Alexander Pope wrote:
while her Lover pants upon her breast,
mark the figures on an Indian chest.”
Who among us has never
become bored or sidetracked during lovemaking, thinking about something
Or, we get caught up in seemingly
related thoughts such as wondering if our partner is happy, or being concerned
that we’re not “performing” well, and so on.
When we are evaluating or
worrying, we’re not experiencing.
Just as in Aikido, our attention must be in the here and now in order to blend
with our partner.
Training in mindfulness alerts
us when we’ve wandered away, and reminds us to shift back to an awareness of
what’s actually going on.
Mindfulness is a fluid
activity, a way of walking through life (which includes bedroom activities).
Mindfulness invites us to notice how we’re walking, what we’re walking past,
what we’re noticing, what we’re thinking.
Breathing is often used as
the gateway, the path back to the present moment. Our breath is always here,
always happening, always available for us to focus on. Tantra Tai Chi,
developed by myself and my husband, provides an easy blueprint for returning to
center. When a couple shares an understanding and appreciation for a pattern of
bodily focused mindfulness, lovemaking is taken to extraordinary heights and
awakens spiritual joy.
Mindful lovemaking can create
a vibrant intimacy throughout a couple’s lifetime.
Diana Daffner, with her
husband Richard, is the author of Tantric
Sex for Busy Couples: How to Deepen Your Passion in Just Ten Minutes a Day
and leads workshops for couples, in romantic locations as well as via Zoom.
Brochure available. Visit IntimacyRetreats.com or call 941-349-6804 for more information.