In my practice as a qualified sex therapist & coach, I meet many women who struggle with their sexual pleasure. After all, we live in a culture that really doesn’t value and prioritise pleasure in any way, so sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Pleasure for each of us is subjective. What one person likes, another may not. So it stands to reason that knowing what you like is a great way to help you better understand what pleasure may feel like for you. After all, the only person who can decide this is, well, you!
What Creates Pleasure?
Although simple enough, pleasure is made of a variety of components; the 3 most prominent are thoughts, feelings and sensations. Sometimes thoughts, especially restrictive or distracting thoughts, tend to dominate our intimate encounters which can prevent us from really experiencing what else is required to create the pleasure we seek.
According to Sally, a 26 year old professional single woman, “The minute we start kissing, my mind drifts to work, emails and even Facebook. It’s almost like a switch goes on as soon as sex starts”. Susan 34, also struggles with intrusive thoughts, but notes “I start thinking about my body and how it must look to him. Then I wonder why he even likes me. On the surface, I seem OK. I have a good job and great friends, but with sex I’m not very confident. I can’t imagine a guy like him would even like me’’. Such thoughts can really separate the three vital components of pleasure, making enjoyment very elusive.
The following tips are based on the practices I use with my clients to help them engage more with their sexual pleasure, and assist in minimizing the distracting thoughts that hold them back, while maximising their feelings and sensations to access the erotic satisfaction they seek.
One of the biggest inhibitors to pleasure is permission. I’m not talking about permission from our partners, parents or friends (although that would be nice), I am referring to permission from the person most able to grant us the opportunity to explore sex. Ourselves. Permission means allowing ourselves to be curious about sex, our body, our thoughts and feelings, without judgement. Experimenting with the idea that sex is fundamentally OK, is a great way to start exploring our own sexuality.
One of the things that holds us back from experiencing pleasure is a mind that is jumping and racing and has difficulty staying focussed. By practicing focusing on sensations, rather than racing thoughts, the mind has a chance to slow down and feel the body. Learn to focus by taking 3 deep belly breaths each time you want to connect more deeply to yourself. Take the time to slow down. The body has a better chance of being included and really recognising the sensations of pleasure.
Touch is a fundamental human tool of communication but not all of us are confident with giving or receiving touch.
• Start alone, close your eyes and bring your attention to your hands.
• Bring the awareness gradually to your palms and breathe deeply three times. You may notice a tingling sensation in your hands as you do this.
• Raise one hand up near to your check without touching. Feel the warmth radiating from the centre of your hand against your face.
• Begin to breathe in and out more deeply. With each breath invite your body to experience the breath as if it were stoking the furnace within your hand, making the heat more pulsating than before.
• Place your hand only your cheek, gently. Palm first, then fingers. Add pressure, but not too much, but more than a light touch. Notice how your face responds to a firm embrace of a warm hand.
• Breathe. And just notice how it feels to be touched firmly and with intention, palm first.
• Apply that touch to other parts of your body. Notice how your body responds.
Many of us never take the time to really look at our bodies. For many of us it is hard, really hard. If you are one of these people you might want to skip this part. If you feel up for a challenge I invite you to have a look at yourself in the mirror.
• First your face. Notice the features, lips, eyes, hair.
• When you’re ready look at your body, with your eyes and the reflection in the mirror. Stop and notice each part.
• As you focus on each part, notice the sensations and feelings that come. Allow them to be present without judging, and continue to breathe.
• Take out a hand mirror and look at your genitals. For many of us they are the most sensitive part of our bodies and the gateway to so much pleasure.
• If it feels right, place your warm palm over your genitals and experiment with pressure and sensation. Which parts are more responsive to touch? Look in the mirror and see how your genitals respond to touch. Do they change over time? Notice the difference after 10 then 20 minutes of touch.
Prioritising sex doesn’t even have to involve another person. By just acknowledging within ourselves that sex is something we would like to know more about, we are on the way to making the fundamental changes that hold us back from being the abundant and sensually confident people we long to be. By making pleasure a habit, it starts to become something we look forward too, much like making a decision to eat well or exercise more, committing to pleasure can feel a little challenging at first, but the rewards can be totally life changing.
The Desire Series
The Desire Series online course offers you 3 hours of video tutorial along with 11 unique and detailed worksheets designed to transform your relationship with desire.
These three live webinar recordings delve deep into the most common problems many people struggle with regarding their relationship with desire, and offer you tailored solutions through the carefully crafted worksheets to help you understand how your desire operates.