Bliss and pleasure are enhanced by presence. Imagine making love that way.
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You long for amazing sexual experiences. But are you cultivating the one thing that can create the conditions for transcendent sex? I’m not talking about mastering a sex technique hidden in an esoteric how-to manual or creating the perfectly seductive, sensual, bawdy boudoir. I’m talking about the mind state that is necessary for physical and emotional orgasmic bliss. If you wish to unleash your sexual potential, you need to be able to concentrate.
Also called “attention” or “absorption,” concentration is a state of focused mind. Concentration is single-pointed—that is, whatever you are paying attention to becomes the center, and even the totality, of awareness. Everything else—distracting thoughts, an itchy elbow—melts away. Whereas mindfulness has a broader, more mobile awareness to it—I am mindful of your hand on my back, the jazz in the background, and how turned on I feel as we kiss—concentration is a deep absorption into nothing but the sensation of your lips on mine. If you become deeply concentrated in meditation, you can even enter into profound, thought-free bliss states called jhanas. Your mind and body slow to the point where nothing seems to exist except for the meditation object. There is nothing but breath or lips—the meditator dissolves into the meditation. The sense of self and other disappear. There is no sense of “me, meditating” or “us, kissing” but rather a sense of open, connected, blissful oneness. And it feels fantastic.
Imagine experiencing single-pointed concentration and bliss when touching your partner’s hair or making love, all distractions fading away as you become fully absorbed. Imagine the joy as the separate sense of “me” and “you” disappears and you melt into each other as one. Yet the ability to deeply concentrate is not common. The human mind developed to keep us safe, and it does so by scanning the environment with selective and rapidly alternating attention, as neuroscientist and Buddhist teacher Culadasa points out. So, unless you develop your concentration muscle, your mind will be easily distracted and unable to fall into the bliss of deep absorption.
And it’s not all about bliss, either. Jhanic absorptions are great, but even on a regular level, if you are not paying attention, you are not fully living. Likely, you crawl out of bed, “do” your morning routine, then head out the door to work and errands and lunch and meetings, and then you arrive at home. Your spouse greets you warmly. You eat and talk about your day; you watch some TV; you go to bed. Was it an enlightened day? Did you really live it? Were you present, interested, curious, and aware? How many things did you miss today because you forgot to pay close attention? Whether you are stuck on a bus on your commute gazing at the ocean in rapture or listening closely to what your spouse is saying, loving concentration is about living and loving with focus and fullness—squeezing everything out of this one simple moment in time.
Let’s explore bringing loving concentration to your sexual relationship. Recall that when you slow down and deeply focus on eating a raisin, your senses blaze with intensity. That single bite of a single raisin—when your mind is concentrated—imbues your whole being with sensual and emotional pleasure. When you listen with focused attention to a beautiful piece of music, you become one with the cello. Bliss and pleasure are enhanced by presence. Imagine making love that way. You sharpen your focus, and the intensity of this touch or kiss seems to increase, but really what has changed is your attention. As you concentrate on just-this-now, the now becomes the full experience. Concentration can lead to unified mind, sensory intensity, blissful orgasm, and tantric union. When you attend with deep concentration to your beloved, to this very touch, to the feelings of love and openness between you, to the sexual pleasure, you are practicing the ultimate in mindful loving—just by paying attention.
MINDFUL SKILL: Tantric Breathing Practices
Breathing together connects you with your partner and helps the energies of body and mind resonate in a powerful and loving exchange. Practice this with clothes on or naked. Sit facing your partner. If possible, sit cross-legged with your spine straight and your posture open and alert, yet relaxed. Get as close as possible, and make sure you are touching knees. Gaze deeply into each other’s eyes and bring your attention to your breathing. At first, simply be together, breathing and connecting. Then, begin to synchronize your breath. Breathe in together at the same time; breathe out together. You can place a touch of a smile on your lips—this relaxes your mind and deepens concentration. Stay with this synchronized breath practice for a few moments, at first with your eyes open, and then explore it with your eyes closed.
Can you sense your partner’s breath energy? Can you use a gentle touch to signal the pace of the mutual breath? Feel the distractions settle as you focus on breath and sensing your body and your partner.
Next, move on to breath exchange. Here, you inhale when your partner exhales, and then exhale when your partner inhales. Imagine you are exchanging life energy and loving kindness when you inhale your partner’s breath and then exhale your breath into them. You may wish to explore connecting your palms together as you exchange breath or placing your palms on each other’s heart.
The third breath practice goes by various names but is essentially a circular tantric breath. Still facing each other, place your attention at your root, or sexual, chakra. This energy gathering place is found in the area of the perineum—between the vaginal opening and anus for a woman, between the base of the scrotum and the anus for a man. Try tightening this area to get a feel for it. Then, as you inhale, imagine energy rising up from this root center, traveling up your spine, though your heart center, and up through the forehead to the crown of your head. On the exhale, reverse the flow, imagining breath and energy flooding down your body from the crown of your head through your forehead, throat, heart, belly, and to the sexual center. Once this flow is established, imagine the energy as a circle—flowing up from the root chakra on the inhale, curving through the crown, flowing down on the exhale, curving through the root chakra. Picture this as a loop of shining white light energy. Then, when you are ready, picture tracing a loop up through your own body on the inhale, then the light energy leaving your crown and entering your partner’s crown, and then flowing down through your partner on the exhale. Concentrate on the energy sensations. Feel your way into, or imagine, your partner’s experience. Gently allow the separation between you to blur as you breathe each other.
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This is an excerpt from Buddha’s Bedroom: The Mindful Loving Path to Sexual Passion and Lifelong Intimacy by Cheryl Fraser, published by New Harbinger Publications. Copyright 2019.