What does healthy, fulfilling sex look like? For Jill Blakeway, a doctor of Chinese medicine, it's all about energy and connection. Here, the Well+Good Council member explains how you and your partner can strengthen your emotional, energetic, and physical bond—and wind up having an even better sex life.
The news for the past few months has been filled with harrowing accounts of sexual harassment. They serve as a reminder (as if we really needed one) that while healthy consensual sex can create profound energetic and spiritual connections, disconnected and abusive sexual experiences cause pain and damage.
We are all, in a very real sense, one. We instinctively know this, and one of the best ways to experience that oneness is during sex.
Human beings are not as separate as we tend to think we are. We are all, in a very real sense, one. We instinctively know this, and one of the best ways to experience that oneness is during sex. It’s one of the reasons why consensual sex is so important.
In 2013, I wrote a book, Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido, which is based on ancient Taoist exercises that help couples cultivate an energetic connection with their partners. Enhancing that bond leads not only to better sex, but also to more love and greater compassion for each other.
Many of the patients I treat tell me that they want want deeper, more compassionate, and more connected sex. Here’s the advice I give them about creating a healthy energetic sexual connection.
Breathe in, breathe out
A deep breath sends qi—the essential energy that moves through the body—downward, where it energizes the pelvic area. And purposeful breathing keeps you in your body and out of your head, making you more attuned to pure physical sensation, which will increase your sexual responsiveness. In Sex Again, we begin with simple breathing exercises and progress to synchronizing your breath with your partner during sex for greater connection and intimacy.
Keep your head in the game
Where your mind goes, your qi follows, so learning how to stay focused is a skill that will enhance your sex life. Studies suggest that mindfulness meditation helps people to quiet the mental chatter that stops them from enjoying sex. It’s also an excellent way of achieving the stillness necessary to receive energy from someone else. (You can read more about mediation and sex here.) With my patients I start by teaching them simple meditations that get their head in the game and progress to more complex meditations that teach them to circulate energy throughout their body so that sex, and in particular orgasm, becomes more of a whole body experience.
Bring kissing back
Kissing can be more intimate than having sex, but is often one of the first things to go in a long-term relationship. In Sex Again, I suggest daily kisses that last "longer than it takes to sneeze" and the book has examples of different kissing styles to give the reader inspiration and encouragement to try new things. Kissing sets off intense physical and emotional reactions in the body. It decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol while increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Chemically speaking, kissing induces relaxation and builds connection.
Kissing creates closeness, both literally and emotionally. It’s just about the most intimate thing you can do. The lips and tongue are exquisitely sensitive. Your lips, for example, have a thinner layer of skin than anywhere else on your body—and under that skin, more sensory neurons than almost anywhere else. Kissing is a sensual and sexual trigger. What’s more? It warms us up for sex!
Massage your partner
Sexual pleasure is dependent on energy moving in the body and moving between two people. Massage moves energy—and massage with a partner exchanges it. Beyond that, massage benefits both body and mind. It has all the benefits of touch in general, and then some. It is stress relief, relaxation, and even meditation and/or intimacy—depending on how you do it—all rolled into one. It improves circulation. It creates deeper connection to your own body (and to your partner, when it’s a team effort).
Do a "Loop"
The Loop is an exercise designed by the Taoists specifically to move stagnant sexual energy in the body, circulate sexual energy from the pelvis through the rest of the body, and find a place of balance from which to make a sexual connection with someone else. In Sex Again, I teach the reader to do The Loop both alone and with a partner. (Find the instructions here.)
Practicing The Loop will help you tap into your own sexual energy if you've been out of touch with it, and it will help you cultivate more of it. Plus, it will enhance sexual pleasure. With practice, you can learn to do this Loop with your partner, synchronizing your breathing so one person breathes in as the other breathes out. Expert Loopers learn to do this exercise while they are having sex, timing the breathing and energetic exchange with the rhythm of intercourse.
And add a "Squeeze"
If you are familiar with Kegel exercises, you are already familiar with the essence of the Squeeze. In Sex Again, I teach the reader to add a Squeeze to the Loop during sex; this should increase pleasure for both partners and direct sexual energy throughout the body
Having a variety of positions at your command adds fun and adventure to your sex life. It also increases the pleasure (and benefits) of having sex. Different positions may feel different emotionally. For example, how much of your bodies are touching, how open you need to be, whether you can look each other in the eye, or whether you need to maintain or relinquish control can change the way a position affects you.
Positions that match partners' body parts (hand to hand, belly to belly) are more relaxing and harmonizing, according to Taoist philosophy, while those that pair “unlike” parts (mouth to genitals, back to belly) are more stimulating and exciting. So choose (or shift) positions according to what your aims are. Keep in mind, however, that good sex most often involves a mixture of the two approaches.
Dr. Jill Blakeway, DACM, is a practitioner and teacher of Chinese Medicine and the founder and clinic director of the YinOva Center in New York City.
Jill is the author of Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility and Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido. She's currently writing her third book, about energy healing, for Harper Collins.
What should Jill write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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