Have you ever been in the middle of having sex and you cannot, for the life of you, get out of your own head?
Or maybe you feel really self-conscious, or upset, or disconnected? Or even like, kind of numb?
It can be a deeply frustrating feeling, when what is supposed to be an intimate, pleasurable, or cathartic experience just simply isn't living up to your expectations.
But, in my experience, one of the most transformative and helpful tactics toward becoming more present during sex actually involves something you're probably doing right at this very moment.
Well, deep breathing, to be exact.
It's no secret that a practice of deep breathing, whether you consider it a kind of meditation or not, has its benefits.
Learning to focus on your breath can be calming, de-stressing, and it can make for faster and more potent oxygenation in the blood.
But the breath has always been considered an integral part of having really pleasurable, present sex.
In fact, rhythmic breathing can be so incredibly powerful that you can technically achieve a bodily orgasm while running, meditating, or even swimming.
Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Namita Caen, DHS, a clinical sexologist, sexological body therapist, and intimacy coach, about the importance of the breath -- or as she calls it, "your life force" -- when it comes to having sex.
According to Dr. Caen, the breath you might tap into for sex is the same kind you would focus on if you were practicing yoga, meditation, or even martial arts. It's that "deep belly calming breath."
From a neurological perspective, it helps calm the nervous system, or the limbic system. It reduces stress, reduces blood pressure, and increases energy.
There is enormous importance in how the breath allows for feeling comfortable with the body. Ultimately, it is helping us transition from the doing state, the productive state, to the state of being, where we are more open and receptive and more somatically oriented.
In her experience as a sexological therapist, Dr. Caen says a struggle in focus and presence during sex can be more common among women.
She tells Elite Daily,
What I hear often from female clients is, 'I feel like I'm in my head. I feel disconnected from my body. I want to be more in touch.' Breathing helps us get out of our head, to silence the inner critic. It helps us really feel our body, and our sensations -- and ultimately, our pleasure.
Dr. Caen shares two different breathing exercises she has found to be effective with clients in creating positive change.
If you're in bed with your partner, try spooning before sex to ground and “drop into the breath.”
Feel their breath with your body, and try to adapt to the rhythm of each other's breathing, noticing the differences in speed and length.
Eventually, the breath starts to synchronize, which makes for deeper physical and emotional connection.
But you can also practice your deep, rhythmic breathing on your own before trying it with a partner.
If you're by yourself, inhale for a count of seven breaths, then exhale for a count of seven more breaths. After a few rounds, hold for a count of three after you inhale, then exhale again for a count of seven.
As you continue practicing, focus on extending your exhales so they're longer than the inhales.
Also, try "sending" the breath to different parts of the body, imagining it as an internal massage.
Imagine your breath swirling around and relaxing, connecting and activating the pelvis.
Try to notice what thoughts or feelings come up. Do you feel nervous? Shy? Does it feel good?
If you notice any mental chatter, allow it to float right on by like clouds sailing through the sky, the way you might during meditation.
So, are you belly-breathing yet?