3 Steps to Mindful Masturbation

A hands-on guide to being present with pleasure.

Mindful masturbation is a lot what it sounds like: using mindfulness to focus your attention—in this case, on self-pleasure.

Adding mindful masturbation to your solo sex practice has many benefits, some of which can be truly transformative for your sex life. Mindful masturbation helps you:

  • overcome distractions during sex
  • prioritize your sexuality more intentionally
  • create new mental pathways that enhance eroticism
  • be more present with pleasure in your daily life
  • become a better sexual communicator

You don’t have to have practiced mindfulness before in order to try mindful masturbation (though it does help).

You also don’t necessarily have to touch your genitals if you can’t or don’t want to. In fact, regular mindful masturbation has helped many people achieve extreme pleasure highs and even orgasms simply by breathing.

That’s quite a bit advanced, however. If you’re here, you’re probably just beginning your mindful masturbation journey. Welcome! Let’s get started.

Step 1: Setting the Scene

Photo by Burst

Set aside time and space. Silence your devices, turn off any screens, and pick a comfortable place to sit or lie down. If you live with others, schedule your mindful masturbation sessions for when you are least likely to be interrupted. If you can, ask other household members for privacy.

Leave props behind. At least for your first few sessions, try to leave toys, porn, and even pre-existing fantasies out of your practice. If you require devices to masturbate due to a disability or condition, that’s fine. The idea is to keep things as simple and comfortable as possible. If after a few sessions you feel these things would be helpful, introduce them into your practice one at a time.

Let go of all expectations. You are here simply to try something new and explore what’s possible. Set aside any goals you have, such as orgasm or having a sexual epiphany. This may be tougher than you think, but it’s important. Accept that it is enough to be present in the moment and curious about what this exercise holds for you. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and plan to simply maintain curiosity and an open mind until the timer goes off.

Step 2: Bringing Attention Inward

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Feel your breath. Close your eyes. Focus on the sensation of inhaling breath into your body, then exhaling it out. Notice where you feel it, whether at your nose, at the back of your throat, in the expansion of your chest, or somewhere else. Bring your attention to the place where the sensation of your breath is most intense for you, and keep it there for three breaths.

Touch your body. Start with parts of your body you don’t normally consider sexual. This might be your face, hair, arms, hands, belly, or other places. Use brushes of your fingertips at first, if you can, and gradually work up to gently pressing your hands onto wherever feels right in these non-sexual areas. Move and change this pressure, and/or grip with your fingertips to keep your attention on this self-touch.

Notice pleasure. Shift your attention to where you are pressing. When something feels especially pleasurable, allow yourself to linger on and sink into the sensation. Keep the pressure applied where it is, and take a breath or two as you relish the sensation. Imagine taking a mental, sensational snapshot—as if you could photograph pleasure. Admire your snapshot.

Return attention inward. It’s common for attention to wander during this experience. You may want to rush into genital stimulation, or you may start thinking about the world outside of your breathing and sensations. This is normal, and okay. There’s nothing wrong with this. Simply notice it happened, let go of any distracting thoughts (you can come back to them when you’re done), and return your attention to your breath and touch.

Seek and soak in pleasure. If a touch feels good, sit with it for as long as feels pleasurable. This may last the entire ten minutes. If so, that’s good; it means you found pleasure and sat with it for ten minutes. If not, that is also good; it means you have an opportunity to explore other pleasures. Move your touch around your body with varying pressure. Find new pleasurable sensations for yourself.

Step 3: Erotic Touch

Photo by cottonbro

Take your time. Try not to jump to genital touch within the first couple minutes of this exercise. In fact, don’t worry if you don’t even get to it at all. There’s nothing wrong with genital touch, of course, but mindful masturbation works best if you’ve thoroughly explored the less erotic parts of your body first. This way, you get practice tuning into sensations and your breath while experiencing pleasure.

Stay the course. If you already have a regular solo sex practice, it’s easy to fall into your usual routine. Try to resist this, and approach genital touch the same way you have with the rest of your body. Remain curious, and experiment with different types of touch, pressures, and movements. Imagine you are discovering this part of yourself for the first time. Try movements different than your typical ones.

Continue until the timer goes off. Remember: your goal isn’t necessarily to orgasm, but to remain curious and present with pleasure. If you’re especially present with pleasure, your timer may surprise you. If that isn’t the case your first few times, that’s okay. Either way, you may find it helpful to sit and reflect on your experience, or even write or record your thoughts—especially about any challenges you had.

Conclude. You don’t have to return to self-pleasuring yourself or try to reach orgasm after the timer goes off, but if you want to that’s okay. You’re welcome to use your toys, porn, and fantasies at this point. Great job on finishing the mindfulness session!

Additional Resources

Join the waitlist for my Guided Mindful Masturbation Class. In it, attendees follow along with live prompts on a cameras-off Zoom call. Time and date for the session are TBD, but you can check out my scheduled classes here.

Want to watch or listen to the above information via recording? Check out this great video by Jessica Graham, author of Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out.

Published by Shannon Burton

Sex educator and writer by day, poet and flash fiction author by night, I occasionally manage to get out of the house to enjoy New Orleans as it's meant to be.

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