Solo sex isn’t talked about enough for a number of reasons — some of them valid, some of them ridiculous. Not everyone is comfortable discussing masturbation, and that’s OK, but many people grow up thinking that exploring their sexuality in this way is some form of taboo, and that’s not OK. There is absolutely no shame in finding what feels good, or loving on yourself if that’s what you’re into. In fact, some experts would argue that masturbation counts as meditation, something to practice not just with the intention to climax, but also with the resolution to relax and get to know your body on a deeper level. There’s nothing taboo about that, if you ask me, but there are a ton of health benefits you can reap from it, if you’re interested.
Now that I have your attention, before diving into the concept of masturbation as meditation, it’s important to note that, lately, meditation has become a kind of catch-all phrase that encompasses any activity to calm your mind by focusing on your breathing, an inspirational mantra, or “some other object of our attention,” Patricia Karpas, co-founder of Meditation Studio and head of content for Muse and Meditation Studio, told Elite Daily back in December 2018.
In other words, when you think of meditation, you might automatically envision complete stillness, someone sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat with their hands resting on the thighs, clothed in designer athleisure pants. But this is just one version of meditation; mindfulness can come from jogging at a steady pace, or writing in a notebook, and yes, masturbation can be a form of meditation, too.
To draw a parallel, think about one of the most popular forms of meditation there is: body-scanning. A body-scanning practice requires you to put all your focus and awareness into your body. By closing your eyes and noticing what feels good, what areas feel tense, and all the physical sensations you might be experiencing, Karpas told Elite Daily, the goal is to take yourself out of your thinking mind, and hone in on the physical body. Masturbation is pretty similar, in that the focus is on identifying those delicious physical sensations, and exploring yourself on a deeper, more intimate level.
In an interview with Elite Daily, CalExotics’ resident sexologist, Dr. Jill McDevitt, tells me she considers herself a “bit of a purist” when it comes to meditation, in that she believes the primary goal of the practice is to become present without judgment. As a result, she recommends masturbation to clients who struggle with being more present in life — think high anxiety, racing thoughts — and suggests meditation to clients who have trouble orgasming.
“When masturbating, be attentive to the specific area where you're touching, the rhythm, the pressure” McDevitt says, adding that, just like meditation, “the benefits [of masturbating] come from approaching the practice with curiosity, a beginner's mind, gratitude, etc.,” so it’s important to catch yourself if you notice you're going on autopilot (aka a sign of not being present, according to the sexologist).
Although sexual pleasure is an obvious perk, masturbation counts as meditation for the stress-relieving, as well as physical health benefits it provides. “Pleasure is a muscle, and we need to exercise that muscle to stay in shape,” Stella Harris, Juicebox sex coach and author of the book Tongue Tied, tells Elite Daily, adding that using masturbation as a means to experience pleasure is a “wonderful way to prioritize your self-care.”
When you think of it that way, masturbation almost sounds like a miracle worker, doesn’t it? It’s not magic, though. According to MysteryVibe's sex expert, Dominnique Karetsos, it’s pure science. “Your body releases endorphins during masturbation, which interact with receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain,” which, Karetsos explains, is why muscle tension decreases during masturbation, and you experience an overall positive body high.
The physical high and mental ease that masturbation can provide in times of stress are definitely worth exploring when you need them most, but Karetsos says masturbation as meditation should be incorporated into your regular wellness routine. "Masturbation isn’t only a response to your body’s illnesses," she explains. "Learning to incorporate masturbation as one of your healthy habits, not only when you’re stressed or can’t sleep, is part of living a well-balanced life."
Now, since solo sex isn’t always talked about or taught, don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve never practiced masturbating before. It’s never too late to learn about or explore your body, and with the benefits ranging from sexual pleasure to stress relief, IMO, there’s no reason not to experiment. So, if you’re interested in trying masturbation as a form of meditation, but you don’t quite know where to begin, I asked health and sexuality writer, August McLaughlin, author of the book Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment, for some pointers.
To begin, McLaughlin tells me the most important thing to remember is that it's OK to be a beginner, so give yourself full permission to learn. After acceptance comes commitment: McLaughlin suggests prioritizing this time for yourself "as you would any important self-care practice, such as your yoga classes or doctor's appointments." If you want, you can also ~set the mood~ by lighting a candle, putting on your favorite music, or drawing a warm, sudsy bath, says McLaughlin.
As for toys, McLaughlin advises beginners to skip the high-tech ones until you feel more comfortable with the basics. The goal isn't to beeline toward orgasm early on, she tells Elite Daily. Instead, take the time to really get to know your body — and not just your genitals, BTW. "Trace your hands over other intimate parts of your body, such as your nipples and inner thighs. If orgasm happens, great! But there's no competition, and self-criticism won't help," McLaughlin explains.
Keep in mind that, if you aren't used to being this intimate with your own body, the practice might feel a little intimidating or awkward at first, but that's totally normal. When you start feeling self-conscious, McLaughlin suggests playing sensual music, reading erotica, incorporating breathing exercises into your practice, or even sitting down to journal about your feelings toward solo play. "Prioritizing your own pleasure can be a very self-strengthening thing," she says. "It's like the oxygen mask adage: Take care of yourself first."