Illustration by Louisa Cannell

Do you ever find you have only a few minutes to get comfortable, grab a powerful vibrator, and rub out a quick-and-dirty orgasm? While many people find themselves squeezing masturbation into their busy lives, rushing might not be the best thing for you or your vulva.

Here is where mindful masturbation comes in. Self-love sessions shouldn’t always be about racing to the finish line. While having a super-fast orgasm can be convenient (and awesome—who doesn’t love a good quickie?), masturbation should also be treated as an art or sacred practice, to explore the connection between your mind and body. This means devoting time to the practice.

“It’s easy to get into patterns and ruts, use porn in an unhealthy way, or just try to fast-track to orgasm,” says Goddess Aviva, a sexpert and professional dominatrix. While we touch ourselves, we should work on “being present and aware of your body and the sensations, incorporating breathing techniques, being mindful of what you’re thinking of and where you are directing your sexuality.”

Mindful masturbation means “being able to slow down in general and tap into all your senses while experiencing self-pleasure,” adds Kristine D’Angelo, a certified sex coach and clinical sexologist. Practitioners “really benefit by quieting the distracting thoughts in [their] heads.”

Mindful masturbation can be a pressure-free exploration of sensations that simply feel good.

You may be thinking you don’t have enough free time to devote to your practice (and it IS a practice). But we’re willing to bet you could trade one episode of Brooklyn 99 for 30 minutes of self-love. There might be time when quickies are better than nothing, but mindful masturbation is for the curious among us who want to have more embodied, powerful orgasms—or even those who simply want to be more in touch with themselves.

“Mindful masturbation doesn’t have to be about reaching orgasm,” Aviva says. “It can be a pressure-free exploration of sensations that simply feel good, a time where you can love and appreciate your physical body for all the ways it can make you feel.”

Those of us with sexual concerns, like premature ejaculation or anorgasmia, can especially benefit by bringing awareness to the control you have over your body and sexual response, D’Angelo says.

Here is a guide to taking a more holistic view of your self-love routine.

Phase I: Set the mood

Think of your mindful masturbation practice as a date with yourself. Create a sexy, inviting space that turns you on.

“Put on soothing sexy music, light some candles, hydrate, and bring out some toys and your favorite lube to play with,” Aviva says. “Breath, relax, and feel your body fully. Using scented massage oils on yourself is another way to feed your senses and feel your body with your hands.”

Get in on all kinds of body touching to awaken your energies. Aviva also suggests incorporating sensation play, using items like a feather, something furry, a warten wheel, an ice cube, even a rose—“anything that creates different sensations on your skin,” she says.

Phase II: Deep breathing

You need to learn how to truly master deep belly breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing). Being able to breathe deeply into the body is crucial for relaxation, and calming the nervous system.

This isn’t about messing up your orgasm or forcing pleasure in ways that aren’t exciting for you.

“By learning how to do this you’re allowing your body to inhale all the oxygen and energy it needs,” making you feel more present in your body, D’Angelo says. “When exhaled, it’s carrying stress out of your body allowing you to feel more grounded. An important mantra to remember is, Deep Breath = Deep Orgasm.”

This might take some practice. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a high-stress, high-anxiety person, so being able to focus on my breathing took me very long time for me to master. But once I did, it helped me with everything from stress management to fuller orgasms.

Phase III: Mixing up your masturbation routine

When you know what works, it can be hard to step away from it. From the time we’re young, “we start to form an erotic roadmap to sexual pleasure,” D’Angelo explains. “We get stuck in that pattern and rarely venture outside that comfort zone.” Vulva-owners already deal with a host of pressures to have orgasms in hurried, unrealistic ways (read: pornified views of sexuality), that when you find the “sweet spot,” the thought of trying something new is straight-up overwhelming.

My routine, for instance, is to lie on my back, think about gang bangs, and use my Pom on my clitoris until I have an orgasm. It’s reliable and it takes five minutes. Yet, this isn’t exactly the way to be fully engaged in my body and enjoy self-love with intention, you know?

Remember, this isn’t about messing up your orgasm or forcing pleasure in ways that aren’t exciting for you. It’s about exploring your body and opening yourself up to new adventures with, well, yourself. D’Angelo suggests trying different positions, varying the type of touch you use, and experimenting with different toys and lubricants. And most of all, carving out the time to educate yourself. Did I know mounting a wand vibrator like a cowgirl would bring me to orgasm? No. But it was fun to figure it out!

Check out our shop for new toys to try. We love Fin, Kip, and Pom for mindful masturbation…but the point is to explore, so try whatever you like!

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