What is the body's most important sex organ? If you think it's the penis, vagina, testicles, or uterus, congrats, you’re naming reproductive organs. The largest and most integral sex organ needed for any pleasurable sexual activity is the brain. Further, it’s the connection between the brain AND the genitals.
It might not seem obvious that sexual arousal and preparedness begin with the thoughts in your head and make their way down to your genitals. Individuals with brains that can ‘turn it on’ are also known as the Spontaneous Desire Response style group. You are in this Spontaneous group if you experience the standard narrative of sexual desire suddenly appearing while you’re sitting in your office texting an attractive individual, and WHAM!! You are thinking of sex! For Spontaneous individuals, the mere anticipation of pleasure is exciting and thrilling to you and it’s all you can think about. It doesn’t take much to fuel up the brain’s engine and begin revving the genitals for our Spontaneous Desire friends. That pathway is well lubricated, one might say!
For other people, this connection highway between the brain and genitals may take more of the scenic route and need maintenance.
For others, their brains may need a bit of warming up the engine and checking in with the genitals, you are probably in the Responsive Desire style group. You may find yourself in this category if you want sex only after there are some sexy and arousing things happening. For example, after a relaxing evening, a Responsive individual may be lying in bed next to their partner, feel the skin-on-skin contact, find comfort in their partner's scent, and realize, “Hey, we’re already in bed together and I’m loving these sensations, let’s go for it!”
It is important to note that not one desire style is better or worse than the other, nor are they assigned to gender. Spontaneous Desire response is portrayed in media and erotica much more and is more likely to be seen as the ‘higher sex drive’ or ‘correct’ sexual response. But that’s not true. Someone who has Responsive desire doesn’t suffer from ‘low’ desire. Simply put, they want sex when something pleasurable has been in the works for a while and things are lining up. Individuals can also be a combination of these two desires, switching back and forth depending on life circumstances and needs.
Pleasure plays a big part in how our brain and genitals communicate and function, and mindfulness can be beneficial in enhancing this connection. Mindfulness works in quieting the monkey brain chatter and livening up the genitals, helping to get them on the same page.
Being mindful helps us become more aware of our surroundings, our body's little twitches, and sensitivities. Someone who practices mindfulness might notice that their jaw is clenched while driving or that their stomach tenses when they feel anxious. These are signals that our bodies tell us to prepare for a variety of situations. When we aren’t in tune with our body's signals, we may struggle to line up that desired response between the brain and genitals.
For those with the Response desire style, let me throw in one more analogy. If you have ever played pool, your sexual drive is best when those pool balls are all racked in that perfect triangle at the start of the game. Everything is in its place, going according to plan. The second those balls are smacked and scattered, it’s going to take you a lot more work to get those pool balls in the pockets and racked in that perfect triangle once more. That is how Response desire works. So how do we help those genitals communicate with the brain and vice versa when the pool balls are scattered everywhere on the table?
Here are some tricks to help you be more aware and at ease to help lubricate that brain to the genital highway.
Short-Term Mindful Actions
Take a breath. Focus on clearing your mind and let the rest dissolve into nothing.
Remind yourself that sex is not a performance.
Try to be present in thought and body.
Continually talk with your partner about sensations you feel on and in your body. Stay
focused on their fingers, tongue, or other appendages...if you catch my drift.
Long-Term Mindful Goals
Start routine meditation either first thing in the morning or evening before bed. Set a
location in the house where your meditation can take place. Start with an app like Insight Timer, Calm, or Spotify to help guide your meditation. See if you can sit for 5 minutes, then increase it from there as you get more comfortable.
Sex is a series of skills, but for some reason, we aren’t taught them at all. Even worse, we are expected to be experts after a few times or even years! So, be proactive, and do some research. If this means looking at porn with your partner, then do it! If it means talking with friends about their sex tips and tricks, do it! If this looks like joining a beginner’s BDSM class to learn about boundaries and consent and more, then do it! Don’t be afraid to widen that sex box you’ve found yourself in.
Learning to be present takes time. Give yourself some grace and try to create a mantra that keeps you present such as, “I’m right here and nowhere else.” Or, “Be here in these four walls.”
Communication is lubrication. If you’re having solo sex or partnered, say out loud what you’re feeling to help connect the brain and genitals to the present and make you feel more in tune with your body's wants and desires.
Like we love to say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is building that connection between the brain and genitals. Regardless of your Desire Style, what you’re experiencing with your sexuality or relationships, or how “terrible” you might feel at being mindful, mindfulness is attainable and transformative when given the adequate chance. Practice giving yourself nonjudgmental attention one day at a time.
EXTRA: For more expertise, guidance, and research, read Dr. Lori Brotto’s Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.