For a lot of people, masturbating is usually a quick and efficient affair. You know — get in, get off, get out.
But you can also get a lot out of taking your time and masturbating ~mindfully~. It's a great way to get to know your body, get in touch with what turns you on, and tbh, just have a really, really great time pleasuring yourself.
For the uninitiated, mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and being aware of your body, your feelings, and your individual senses. So, mindful masturbation is what it sounds like: embracing that level of focus and awareness while you're having sex with yourself. And while not every time you masturbate can be the picture of mindfulness (nor should it — we all have shit to do) you should definitely indulge in an occasional ritual of self-love.
Since you're probably asking how to actually accomplish that, we got tips from Daniel Saynt, founder of The New Society for Wellness (NSFW), a sex-positive club that hosts sexual education workshops.
1. Throw the goal of orgasming out the window and just focus on exploration and pleasure.
2. Set the stage and create an ~ambiance~ to set the mood.
Like, candles, mood lighting, music or ambient noise, the whole shebang. Or at least take the time to declutter and crack a window for some fresh air. It might seem a little extra, but really, you're just creating an environment where you can relax and focus on the task at hand.
3. Pick a time when you know you won't be interrupted or distracted by the fear of being overheard.
4. Make sure to set out everything you need ahead of time, and choose a variety so you can experiment.
Think: toys, lube, towels, etc. That way, you don't have to stop yourself to collect supplies once you're in the zone. For lube (because it's not only for partnered sex!), Saynt recommends going silicone-based for masturbation since it's thicker, unless you're using toys that require something water-based.
5. If you need help quieting your thoughts so you can really focus, start with some non-sexual meditation or relaxation exercises.
6. Skip porn in favor of fantasizing so you can really get in touch with what's turning you on.
No judgment if you usually enjoy watching or listening to porn while you masturbate, but for this mindfulness experiment, Saynt strongly suggests not using it. Your body is a little less discerning when it comes to what excites it than your mind is, so when you watch porn, you're stimulated because of that — and not necessarily because of things that actually turn you on. And since the goal here is to figure out what you like and what your body responds to, porn kind of defeats the purpose.
7. Explore all your erogenous zones and how they respond to different types of touch.
8. As you explore, try visualizing your body in your mind, then imagine each touch or each feeling as a color appearing on your skin.
Identify each color so you can stimulate more or less depending on how those touches feel. Or if colors aren't working for you, you can imagine your body as a heat map and see where pleasure is most concentrated.
This exercise helps you create a roadmap to your body and your pleasure zones, but it can also just be hot in and of itself. "You start start visualizing your body getting pleasure and that can turn you on as well," says Saynt.