As neurotheology — the science of spirituality — evolves, researchers are finding that mindfulness, meditation, and prayer positively affect the brain. Specifically, it affects pleasure centers that produce oxytocin, known as the “love” hormone, and serotonin, a mood regulator. For that reason, meditation and prayer can benefit you in your daily life. But if meditation and prayer positively affect daily life, can such practices positively affect your sex life too?
What does being mindful mean?
Meditation and prayer require you to be fully present, concentrated, and in the moment so you can experience deeper reflection. When someone is actively practicing mindfulness, they focus on centering their thoughts and emotions to be free from outside distractions. The same is true for those who pray. The prayer seeks to remove distractions in order to be thankful (prayers of thanksgiving) or to make a solemn request (prayers of petition), tuning in to the thoughts and emotions of that specific moment in time, or “the now.”
When it comes to sex, meditation and prayer can allow participants to be fully attentive to sexual expression. This state of mind banishes bothersome distractions, like thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list or worrying whether or not you can give your partner an orgasm. When a person shifts their focus from thinking and doing to feeling and being, they can be truly present in the pleasure and passion they are experiencing with their companion during sex.
“Many disappointments arise around sex due to attachments to our expectations or fears around inadequacy,” Rev. Scott A. Taylor, a yoga instructor at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts tells O.school. “However, when we begin to practice [meditation] and the principles of non-attachment, we can let go of those things and experience life, or in this context, sex, from a completely different perspective. Just ask yourself, ‘When was the last time that I had sex with absolutely no expectations?’ Why not simply explore ‘what is’ at the moment? No judgment, no fears, no expectations. Just simply a sharing of the self. A couple’s individual explorations of the shared selves. Wow, that sounds beautiful doesn't it!”
Sex and Prayer
Rev. Beverly Dale is the founder and chair of the Incarnation Institute for Sex & Faith, an educational non-profit that teaches an inclusive, science-based, and sex-positive Christianity. Reverend Dale tells O.school that "prayer, rightly used, is a centering experience with the Divine. It is to calm oneself with the assurance of faith, of being abundantly loved, held, and at one with God.” This prayerful state of mind allows the person to fully embrace the affection and closeness they are being offered and to fully reciprocate the same. “This kind of a prayerful state of mind is excellent preparation for sexual encounters.” Dale continues, “ It removes distractions and unrealistic expectations for subsequent sexual interactions."
When prayer is linked to sex, it is not about petitioning the Divine — the highest Power Being of your own belief system — for a mind-blowing orgasm. Rather, it is a prayer of thanksgiving for your ability to delight in the joys of your god-given body. "Prayers of gratitude for sensual pleasure and the delights that come with abandoned joy are most appropriate, whether before, during, or after sexual experiences!" Rev. Dale tells O.school.
Sex as a Spiritual Experience
Frenchie Davis, a sexologist and the founder of Libido Talk, says sex can be a spiritual adventure, and the key is to relax internally, or mentally. Davis says, “Sex is a form of prayerful meditation for me. It’s when I take and receive the deepest breaths. It’s when my spirit is illuminated by oxytocin and endorphins. It’s when I gleefully call God’s name because I forget my own.” Davis adds, “The body even offers a resolution stage, post-orgasm. It’s a beautiful release. Isn’t that meditation? Isn’t the goal to connect to yourself?”
Sex as Communion
Many people, especially those who are religious, wonder if sex and prayer are intrinsically opposed. Some religious figures say sex is not just for procreation, but for uniting physically, emotionally, and spiritually with our chosen partner. Praying to be able to give and receive fully is not anathema to Faith. In fact, prayer about sex presupposes faith in the ability to communicate and commune fully with your loved one. Even Pope Francis tells followers that, “Sexuality, sex, is a gift from God. Not taboo.” It’s important to be prayerful and thankful for all of the gifts we receive from the Divine.
When we see our sexuality as a form of communion — that is, agreement and intimacy — we honor not only our own minds and bodies, but those of our companion as well as our Creator. Our focus is not on what’s for dinner or that office memo you forgot to answer. Our focus is on the sex act itself and all of the comfort and delight it brings to both partners.
It is important to relax your mind in order to free yourself from external interference, allowing you to focus and embrace one another as well as the encounter itself. Meditation and prayer offer this present focus. From there, we are able to receive a richer, deeper, more enjoyable sexual experience. Take a deep breath, shift into “the now,” and enjoy!