For most people, it’s fair to say that one of the goals of sexual encounters is to experience physical pleasure. Of course, there are many different reasons that people choose to have sex – to stroke your ego, to feel attractive to your partner, to feel love and/or accepted, to make up after a fight, to feel closer to your partner, to get pregnant, to feel powerful and/or important – so many different varied reasons. But some of the many reasons you choose to have sex can actually get in the way of your experience of physical pleasure. It really comes down to a matter of attention.

Compared to other mammals, humans with their obnoxiously-large cortex have the capacity to think a multitude of different thoughts, even in the midst of sexual intercourse. Your ego, which defines for you what sex should be and what it means to you at any given moment, has a way of overshadowing your body so that your attention may be taken up by your thoughts about sex rather than the sex itself. When this happens, your brain is not paying full attention to the sensations that your nerve endings are sending to it. In a way, part or most of the communication from your genitals to your brain is being ignored at that moment in order for the brain to concern itself with whatever the ego is preoccupied with at the moment.

So imagine that you are having sex or getting sexual contact from your partner, but your brain isn’t fully paying attention. You’re going to miss the full experience of that touch, that kiss, that stroke, that pressure, that wetness. This is particularly problematic for people having difficulty with desire or arousal. If their brain is not recognizing the signals of arousal that the body is trying to send, it doesn’t really register.

How this might happen in sex could be seen in those people preoccupied with a judgment about sex or perhaps a concern about their body. In this case, your focus is taken away from the tactile sensations that you are having over your skin, your genitals, your entire body so that the message is ignored by your brain and you miss out on recognizing that moment of pleasure. The more your brain is preoccupied with other thoughts, the less pleasure it can register. Even more distressing is that when the brain is preoccupied with thoughts that are anxiety provoking (“I don’t like my body”, “Maybe my partner is not really enjoying themselves.”), it stops sending signals back to the genitals that are needed for lubrication or for an erection, etc.

There is a remedy, however, which is to slow down the activity and focus on the tactile sensations that you are experiencing. You will increase your pleasure when your brain is allowed to focus on each touch, each movement, and the way your body responds. Focusing on the present moment during your sexual contact will also increase the experience of the pleasure as the brain filters out distractions to focus fully on the communication from the your erogenous zones and genitals. Feeling more during sex by slowing down the action and focusing on sensation is to take a play out of the Neo-tantric playbook and get closer to sexual spirituality and ecstatic consciousness.

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