We are often told to live in the moment—to let go and allow ourselves the serenity that comes with being able to exist in the present—to let go of our minds and surrender our worries, thoughts and fantasies.
Of all the activities, none should involve such surrender more than the act of sexual expression, whether with one’s self or with another person. And yet, sexual expression is often caught up in the act of fantasizing, in some cases needing it in order to make the best of the situation.
When it comes to sex or masturbation, many people are caught up in a cycle of fantasy, sometimes needing it to climax or remove anxieties, instead of being able to be aroused simply from being in the moment with one’s body—from the sensations of touching and being touched, kissing and being kissed. This should seem strange.
This is not to say that fantasies are bad, that they can’t play a role in one’s sex life, or that a person should feel guilty over fantasizing (especially since feelings of guilt, whether conscious or unconscious, are probably a part of the issue).
Fantasies are not inherently bad—they simply take one away from his or her own sensations, his or her feelings—there is certainly an appeal to something that helps remove anxieties and worries, but fantasizing doesn’t remove anything, it simply masks an issue that is preventing a person from fully feeling and fully existing in the moment.
Sexual expression is a basic human need—like food, water and shelter—and yet, we would think it odd if a person were face to face with a plate of broccoli or a glass of water that one could enjoy only if they fantasized it was something else. And yet, when it comes to sexual expression and fantasy, there is a lack of appreciation for how much of one’s self a person may be alienated from, along with any number of feelings and anxieties that are preventing a person from feeling fully satisfied and present.
In those moments, either alone or with a partner, where one goes up into the clouds of thought—how can one run off to the mind, when sexual expression is ultimately a full body experience?
Even in masturbation where fantasizing might be more understandable, one should be able to derive pleasure simply from being aroused by one’s body and touching one’s self. Again, fantasizing isn’t bad, but what does it say about one’s comfort with his or her self when one is unable to simply enjoy one’s body and the act of pleasuring it?
When with a partner, the need to fantasize is even more alarming since it essentially involves escaping from the moment with a person one is supposed to be comfortable with—a person one is supposed to be able to be open with. When broken down, the situation does seem ridiculous: in order to feel comfortable with a person in a situation one must “run” from the situation, into one’s mind, in order to get over fears of perhaps not being good enough or not being clean or beautiful enough or from feelings of guilt.
Instead of communicating such anxieties to one’s partner and taking the time to build a more emotional connection, one is more apt to fantasize for the sake of a kind of instant gratification that prevents a person from being able to feel fully comfortable with one’s self and one’s partner—from being able to fully experience the sexual experience when one’s thoughts, worries and anxieties are out of the picture—to be purely in the moment.
Sexual arousal and expression, like all feelings and expressions associated with love, must first come from a place of self-acceptance and self-love.
Only then may it be possible to be fully present to the moment, comfortable with ones feelings and sensations and able to surrender to the moment whether with one’s self or with another person.
To help in this, here are a few things worth trying…
One thing I’ve started doing is to take at least one to three minutes out of my day, usually before getting dressed, to stand completely naked and away from a mirror. The point is to simply feel your aliveness and how powerful it is—to feel how deserving of that life you are. This helps bring us back to a more centered way of feeling, experiencing and appreciating ourselves, which is what love and sex are ultimately about.
Another activity is to take some free time, when you know you won’t be bothered, to get comfortable and intimate with yourself. Perhaps get in a bed, maybe light some candles, get naked, and just take pleasure in touching yourself. Begin very slowly and intimately, giving attention to all parts of your body, even massaging yourself in places where you need it. Again, simply get intimate with the sensations of your body. Take your time. Take pleasure in feeling that you are a beautiful person with the capacity to feel.
Lastly, acknowledge and communicate those difficult emotions and anxieties (first to yourself and then with your partner) that may be preventing you from being more open and comfortable with yourself in bed. Try and get to the root of the issue, even if it means going to difficult places. Learn and practice the art of savoring every moment in the moment with yourself, with your partner and without a need to leave your body.
Author: Mark Zimmermann
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Dennis Brekke