Other than the first two or three years after my epiphany, I’ve had low libido my whole life, so when I came across Lori A. Brotto’s Better Sex through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire a little over a year ago, I bought it and promptly started reading. Unfortunately I didn’t get far. The mindfulness it was asking me for felt out of my range.
I had assumed that mindfulness was a thing I’d be good at. I’m observant. I’m introspective. I’m a highly sensitive person. I have good physical awareness for both movement and health issues. So it threw me for a loop when a body awareness exercise felt difficult.
But maybe it shouldn’t have. Now that I give it some thought, there are also ways in which I can be rather disconnected from my body. Relatively recently I developed a tendency to hold my breath under certain circumstances and it took some time (and a trip to the doctor) before I figured out what I was doing. I always have a certain degree of muscle tension, especially in my neck and shoulders. And then there’s the big one: the nighttime jaw-clenching habit that I’ve struggled with for my entire adult life. Oh yeah, that!
There’s also the puzzling fact that I have no memory of my first orgasm even though I’m certain that it was with a boyfriend (pretty sure I know which one), and resulted from him giving me oral sex. I’m also certain that I didn’t dissociate in the moment, but my former sexual shame seems to have cast the memory of it adrift. In reading about dissociation (the current SB4MH prompt), I also brushed up on the related concept of emotional detachment, which is much more familiar to me, especially as demonstrated by my mother who I believe experienced some kind of sexual trauma as a child.
Although I set the Brotto book aside, I started trying to tune in more to certain physical sensations that I seem to habitually ignore.
For instance, I don’t really feel hungry when it’s time to eat, and I now wonder whether my lack of a sense of hunger is somehow learned and is an example of an idiosyncratic disconnect between physical sensation and awareness. It’s a real issue because it leads to issues and symptoms relating to low blood sugar, especially when I’m not able to eat on a schedule like while I’m travelling. This is something where mindfulness might really help.
I’ve also been paying more attention to the times when I feel (spontaneously) turned on. I’ve found that I rarely feel any arousal at all, and if I do, the sensation tends to be very mild and easily ignored. It’s usually only perceptible it in the morning when I wake up, and getting up to go to the bathroom or retrieve my vibe has often been enough to kill it.
In addition to working on this ‘remedial physical awareness’, I also started meditating. In the past I’d never got beyond a bit of dabbling but this time I actively sought out meditation classes as a way of building a foundation for mindfulness. I found a Buddhist class that was conveniently located and had a set of talks aimed at beginners. Perfect! While I haven’t quite gotten into a regular meditation routine, I now feel that I have the foundation I was after.
And with that, I think I’m ready to dive back in to Better Sex through Mindfulness!
As I read Brotto’s book, I’ll be using each chapter as a writing prompt as a way of encouraging myself to slow down, reflect, and engage with it deeply.
Below is the table of contents, which I will link to my posts as I work through it.
Chapter 1. Sex in a Multitasking World
Chapter 2. Seeking Sexual Ecstasy – From the Couch to the Brain Drug
Chapter 3. Introducing the Raisin
Chapter 4. Becoming Aware of Your Body
Chapter 5. “Your Attention, Please!”
Chapter 6. How Mindfulness Works
Chapter 7. If You’re Happy and You Know It
Chapter 8. It Takes Two
Chapter 9. Tuning In to Pain
Chapter 10. You Have My Attention – Now What?
Chapter 11. The Next Chapter of the Present Moment