Often, when we’re spending time with our lovers, our thoughts go in every direction. We become trapped by our insecurities, try to hide our faults, or just worry about the other’s perception of us. We need to be “in the moment” with our partners, for their benefit and ours.
However, setting everything aside and focusing only on the experience of lovemaking can be very difficult.
To achieve a genuine state of “letting go”, I like to identify the “thinking is done” moments in my lovemaking. I also practice this skill in my daily life – in preparation for my sexual encounters.
Great sex is about mutual self-awareness and attraction. Be sure to strengthen your mind for sex, just as you would tone your body or express your emotions for a lover.
Our avoidance of reality causes us to become distracted. Judgement/fear strings often result from our evasion of the truth. We keep pushing our issues underwater, and it they keep bobbing to the surface. (It’s like emotional wack-a-mole.)
The Avoidance Mechanism:
1) We feel insecure, ashamed, afraid of judgement, etc. (For example, “OMG, people will find out I’m not perfect and reject me!”)
2) We block out the thought that triggers our fear.
3) Our fear attaches to a different thought and rises into our consciousness again.
4) We push down the new thought (while still keeping the first thought under control).
5) The cycle repeats until our stress builds up to an unmanageable level.
Often, when the stress becomes too much for us to handle, we use distraction to end this cycle. I find that turning on Netflix is a quick antidote to this emotional spiral. (It may not be super-healthy to use entertainment as an escape, but it’s better than an emotional crash.)
We create spirals when we push down our fears. Our fears keep finding new thoughts to cling to so they can re-enter our conscious mind. They gain strength as they attach to more and more thoughts until we can’t keep them at bay any longer.
It may be silly, but I’m picturing a mouse in a room full of helium-filled balloons. It grabs a balloon string and starts to float, but someone pushes it back down to the ground. It grabs another string, and now the person has to push down two balloons. Eventually, the mouse has more balloons than the person can handle, and it flies up and away.
Our fears may be more like monsters than mice, but hopefully this analogy explains the emotional mechanism I’m trying to get across to you. Pushing down your emotions doesn’t just delay the inevitable reckoning. It also strengthens your fear. Nip your fears in the bud, before they gather up so many “strings” that you can’t handle them.
I connect my practice of facing fears with my “thinking is done” practice. The key (as it usually is with these matters) is self-awareness. It took me a long time to realize that just being aware of an issue could help solve it. I had heard people suggest this many times, but it always sounded false to me. How could watching something bad happen make it go away? I didn’t want a microscope to analyze my fears – I wanted a weapon to fight them!
However, I eventually realized that you can’t fight fears. Because:
1) Fear doesn’t really exist.
2) We create fear inside our minds.
Fear is like the “man behind the curtain” in the Wizard of Oz. You don’t fight his illusions; you just pull back the curtain.
I build my self-awareness through the daily observation of my thoughts. It’s easy to notice “fear cycles” getting started because they draw out our thought-processes. I find it’s easiest to observe them when I’m making decisions. It’s amazing to “watch” your thoughts and think, “Oh, I just made a decision!” when you notice yourself make a choice. The key is to notice what happens after you make the decision. Your mind will keep going (motivated by fear), second-guessing and re-processing your decision.
Once you’ve made a decision, you’ve made a decision. But you may notice that your mind just keeps chewing away at itself, trying to come up with a reason to over-ride the decision. It’s like a little kid inventing reasons for her mother to change her mind after her mother has already said, “No”.
The best way I’ve found to deal with my fear cycles is to notice when I make a decision and tell myself, “Thinking is done.” Then I know that whatever else follows is just my fear talking, and not worth my attention.
That’s the real power we have to stop our fear cycles: Attention.
We aren’t perfect super-humans. We have limits, insecurities, and weaknesses. It’s important to avoid getting caught up in trying to fix all of our “faults”.
Instead, we need to focus on putting our attention where it serves us best. For me, that means noticing thought-cycles before they get out-of-hand and hitting the “Reset” button. Instead of letting my attentions get dragged along by my fears, I just set my internal “safety-gauge” back to “neutral”. (I believe this is a function of the pre-frontal cortex overriding the amygdala and brainstem, but please contribute more information in the comments if you’re a brain expert.)
Another great way to practice this is to reset your mind after you make mistakes. Mistakes often set off the “I’m going to be judged” alarms in our heads. Mistake-resetting is an excellent practice; I’m doing it right now as I type. When I make a mistake and have to go back to delete/fix it, I feel a low-level panic. (It’s subtle, but keep “listening” to your body. Emotions often echo through our physiology.)
It’s like the mouse with the balloons: Let the little guy rise up into your conscious mind, get over your fear of mice, and make friends with him. See your mistake for what it is – a part of you, and learn to love it. Don’t just “own” your mistakes; this can feel like “taking responsibility” for mistakes to please an authority figure. Instead, love your mistakes. Then you won’t feel afraid to have them exposed to others.
For example, now that I’ve identified my typing mistakes as an area of practice and growth, I can take pride in them. It’s like a Special Olympian, looking at her missing legs with pride; her limitations have given her a chance at greatness.
One you see your limitations as your source of pride, you will have developed another level of emotional maturity. You’ll be a happier person and a better lover!
Also, have the courage to discuss your challenges with your lovers, especially if they affect your lovemaking. For example, if you have trouble showing off a certain part of your body, let your lover know about it. You can work on this (gently and patiently) together; what was once a worry can become a source of pride for both of you!
Let your sexual adventures heal you and your partners. Be honest and totally accepting of your limitations and challenges. Learn to love your mistakes and your fears – it will set you free!