The Purpose & Power of Practice
I’m interested in how we can create the most fulfilling sex life, and the most fulfilling and pleasure filled life as possible. I also believe that most sexual challenges and problems can be resolved naturally and for the long term. Practice is central to making these changes and creating our future.
One of my teachers, Joseph Kramer, has brought the discipline of mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga into the realm of human sexuality. He laments that the idea of conscious practice over time is not a method that is accepted in our culture when it comes to sexual education and growth. Yet, erotic practice sessions are essential in dealing with sexual problems and in expanding our pleasure.
Because we live in a ‘quick fix’ culture, we want instant results. We want someone else to fix us. We have gotten so used to outsourcing our problems and our pleasure that we have given away our power to create personal change. We tell ourselves that we don’t have the time in to practice and to make the changes we desire.
When I look at the sexual evolution of my students, my friends, my colleagues and myself, I can clearly see the most significant changes result from erotic practice. Martial artists, athletes, musicians, surgeons all learn through conscious practice. So the path of sexual learning involves practicing consciously and mindfully, while not repeating old habits and patterns.
As Joseph says: “We are what we practice. Our lives are a collection of practices, but most of them are unconscious. Conscious practice is where we can step into our freedom.”
Joseph shared the wisdom of Ken Wilber, founder of Integral Life Practice who has been studying the art and science of practice. He states there are four major elements in practice and we need to work with all four, which I’ve illustrated with a woman called Tanya. Tanya finds it hard to mentally switch off when having sex and she has read that deep breathing can help her relax and she decides to try it.
1 Understanding: Be clear about what the practice is and get guidance on it if needed. Tanya researches what might help her switch off and why.
2 States: Notice what feeling states are evoked by this practice? Tanya notices that when she does breathe deeply, she feels more relaxed but she finds it hard to focus on her breathing as she easily gets distracted by thoughts. She realises how distracted she can be and how this limits her enjoyment of her pleasure.
3 Results: To see a development in the practice over time. Tanya notices that the more she practices deep breathing the more relaxed she feels. She becomes more aware of how her attention is often with her thoughts and considers how this affects other areas of her life. She decides that she needs to bring more relaxation into all of her life.
4 Shadow: How much of our past is influencing our present? Continue to notice what influences the practice as the more we pay attention, the more we become aware of. Over time, Tanya notices more of her thoughts that distracts her and she realises that she carries shame around sex due to past experiences and that she finds it challenging to be present during intimacy. At this point Tanya has many options from choosing to talk to her partner about this to getting support.
This process can continue over time as a cycle of action and reflection. Reflecting on what you’d like to change, deciding on a course of action then reflecting on what worked and what was challenging and deciding on the next steps.
Practice is about learning and learning often is challenging. Practice can bring up a plethora of resistances ranging from environmental distractions (time, work, children and more) to mental distractions (not being able to stay present due to underlying beliefs where pleasure makes you feel guilty or you feel shame – there are many more).
Whether on your own or with partner/s, mindful practice in sex and intimacy can transform sexual problems and habitual behaviours. Practice is a portal to new worlds, opening doors in our being that have been shut, maybe never opened. There is a wealth of research on the benefits of mindful practice; it helps you to stay present, reduces fear, anxiety and stress, helps to balance emotions, promotes relaxation, helps you more fully experience and enjoy what you are doing and so much more.
If you’d like to find out more about how mindful sexual practice can help you, do get in touch. You can find out more about Joseph’s amazing work here: