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Do you want truly mindful sex?
Like most people, there is nothing I can readily think of that I enjoy more than sex. There is no high that I can think of that is ‘higher’ than an orgasm. Food is good, drugs can be very good, and other bodily functions can give pleasure, especially as you age. But surely sex is the standout.
Is the physical act the true source of your pleasure, or does your pleasure come from somewhere else altogether?
And does this matter?
Read more from James St James: Confessions of a Baby Boomer #2
I recall reading some years ago that the 21st century human being experiences 98 per cent of their life in their head. That is, much of our joy, fear, pleasure and pain comes from our brain. It is our imagination that generates the greatest joy, fear, pleasure and pain in our lives.
Most human beings experience more pain and fear imagining an occurrence that they experience when it occurs, research shows. The anticipation is more impactful than the event. It is likely that this is no different for joy and pleasure. From my experience it is. This is an interesting finding in terms of what it says about how unrepresentative our imagination often is.
Neuroscientists tell us that the human imagination is one of the main features that set us apart from other primates, mammals and most other animals. Few animals other than humans have the capacity to imagine the future, develop scenarios in their head and live them out before they happen. Equally, we are one of the few animals that can imagine one thing while doing another.
Have you ever had your partner look at you during sex and ask ‘where are you’, or after sex ask ‘what were you thinking about’? Probably not, given that I know many readers are practitioners of ‘mindfullness’. For those who are fully attentive during sex, you may recall a movie you have seen where one or other of the parties asked one or other of these questions of their screen partner.
As I understand it, many people have either been elsewhere, or their partner has. In such cases, the partner who was elsewhere was almost certainly extracting as much of their sexual gratification from what was happening in their head than what they was going on with their body.
There is a view that after the age of 16, or puberty, the primary driver of sexual gratification shifts from the body to the brain. As is necessary with masturbation, people over 16 tend to derive more sexual gratification from what is happening in their brain than they do from what is happening to their body – no matter how good the latter might feel.
To me, this suggests that for the sake of truly mindful sex where both parties are fully engaged, there may well be real merit in at least being open and honest about what is happening in the imagination - then determining the merits of bringing that into the real world. Personally, I think this is sensible and beneficial, and would hope everyone does it.
For now, and for reasons not yet understood by me, I simply wanted to draw attention to the fact that imagination is not only a big part of our lives in general, but is also a very big part of our sex lives. When your partner does not appear to be fully present, it may well be that they are relying on their imagination for their sexual gratification. You are probably doing it, too.
If you want your partner to be fully present, there may be merit in exploring what is occurring in their imagination, creating an environment that is safe and non-judgmental enough for them to be absolutely honest. Given the power of the imagination, it may not be possible for anyone to be 100 percent in the real world 100 percent of the time, but you may help them become more present.
These are my observations, for what they are worth.
What are yours? What role does your imagination play in your life?