There’s a reason why mindfulness is currently one of the biggest buzzwords in the wellness community. Recent research has shown that mindful meditation can help you stay sharp and focused later in life, enable you to better regulate your emotions, decrease your stress levels, and improve your sleep cycle. One recent study even found that just 10 minutes of meditation can give you the same benefits as an extra 44 minutes of sleep.
And according to a new study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, mindfulness can also provide a major boost to your sex life. Researchers surveyed 194 married, heterosexual couples aged 35 to 60 via an online survey, and found that those who were sexually mindful—as in, more in the moment and aware of their partner during sex—reported higher levels of both sexual satisfaction and self-esteem.
“I’ve been studying sex for some time and a number of years ago, I was introduced to mindfulness,” said Chelom E. Leavitt, an assistant professor in the Family Department of Brigham Young University and the lead author of the study. “People often struggle to feel connection and purpose in sex. When I teach sexual mindfulness to couples, most are a little skeptical at first. However, as they practice, they are amazed at the importance of awareness, curiosity, acceptance and letting go of self- and partner-judgment.”
The study aligns with previous research that found that mindfulness has a beneficial impact on women’s sex lives. For example, one 2018 study of 451 women of various ages revealed that women who practiced mindfulness meditation scored higher than women with no meditation experience on measures of sexual function, sexual desire, body awareness, and mood.
It can help men, too. One study published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that mindfulness can help men overcome common sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction. That isn’t much of a surprise given that the issue has long been tied to performance anxiety and the key goal of mindfulness is to help you get out of your head. A 2013 paper published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality also suggests the practice can help men with premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, and low sexual desire.
So if you’re one of the 75 percent of people who claim to be unhappy with the state of sex in their marriage, science says mindfulness can help.
“It may initially seem a little counter-intuitive, but slowing the experience down, being less goal-oriented, and more intentional, actually helps people feel better about themselves, closer to their partner, and more satisfied with the sexual experience,” Leavitt said. “The average person can improve their sexual relationship with a little instruction and practice. It doesn’t require new positions or special skill. Better sex may be as simple as slowing down, being less judgmental about yourself and your partner, and paying attention to touch, arousal, and the connection felt during sex.”
And if you want to turn your mindfulness practice into a mini-vacation, why not give a spiritual retreat a try?