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“Sensate Focus” Can Help You Reclaim Your Sex Life

If you have low libido, lack of concentration when you are If you’re feeling dull or bored when it’s time to act out, you might consider using something called “sensory focus,” a technique recommended by couples and sexologists to reconnect with your body and your partner. .

What is sensory concentration?

Dr. Lee Phillips, a marriage therapist and sexologist, once worked with a couple who had recently had a child. The mother had lost her libido, which led to conflicts with her partner. Phillips introduced the couple to sensory focus, telling them to consciously touch each other and simply notice the sensations, without any goal.

Phillips advised the couple to “focus on temperature, pressure and texture” when touching, specifically urging them to notice little things like this: “Are your partner’s hands cold or warm ? What do you prefer? What does the pressure feel like? Is it firm or soft? What do you like? With texture, are your partner’s hands smooth or rough? After doing this and similar exercises and discussing them in therapy, the couple had gone from not having sex to having sex about once a week. “The sensory focus took the pressure off” and helped the couple “explore the parts of their bodies that gave them pleasure,” Phillips says.

The technique was first developed by sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson in the 1960s with the aim of helping struggling couples in the bedroom connect intimately without the pressure of being aroused, to have an orgasm or to have sex. Numerous studies support its effectiveness, and a multitude of sex therapists prescribe sensory focus to treat a variety of sexual problems, from low desire to premature and delayed ejaculation, according to sex and couples therapist Marissa Nelson.

The technique involves a series of tasks that couples complete at home and then discuss with a therapist. “The goal is to listen to your body and really understand what your needs are so you can better communicate them with your partner,” says Nelson. The goal is also to reduce performance anxiety by focusing on pleasure, she adds, because “you can’t pay attention to your pleasure and your anxiety at the same time.”

Sensory concentration exercises, explained

The sensory concentration technique consists of a series of home exercises. For the first exercise, both partners are clothed and focus on non-genital contact, according to Rhiannon John, sexologist at BedBible. Everyone takes turns touching their partner for their own pleasure, without trying to excite them. “This step is crucial for building trust, comfort and reconnection with the body,” says John. “The focus here is entirely on feeling sensations and providing feedback to your partner about what feels good and comfortable.”

Once a couple has mastered this first exercise, they can move on to genital touching for the next one. But even then, it’s important not to aim for sexual arousal or intercourse. “The main goal here is to familiarize yourself with your partner’s body and, above all, to openly communicate your preferences and limits,” says John. “This step encourages a deeper understanding of your partner’s body and can foster a feeling of vulnerability and intimacy.”

There are five stages in total, the next being mutual contact (where both people touch each other simultaneously, rather than taking turns), genital-to-genital contact, and penetration. For all of these steps, “the emphasis remains on conscious connection, open communication and pleasure, rather than on achieving a specific sexual goal or orgasm,” says John.

How to try to concentrate yourself

Nelson recommends exploring sensory focus under the guidance of a therapist, as it can bring up conflicts or difficult emotions that need treatment. Relationship therapist and sexologist Dr. Viviana Coles agrees that couples “need to be guided to ensure that the emotional connection develops alongside the physical connection.” However, if you would like to try sensory focus for yourself, below is a simplified version described by Phillips.

Before engaging in sensory focus, Phillips recommends setting the mood. “You may want to set the tone by dimming the lights, lighting candles, playing relaxing music, making sure the room is neither too cold nor too hot, and turning off all phones,” says -he. During the exercise itself, you will decide who will be the first to give and who will be the recipient. The recipient will let the donor know how much skin they are comfortable exposing and if there are any areas they do not want to be touched.

“The receiver lies down on a comfortable surface and the giver begins to touch the receiver’s body and explore every nook and cranny,” says Phillips. “Remember that the skin is a large sexual organ; It’s everywhere. Experiment with light touches, gentle touches, firmer touches, scratches, using forearms, hair, cheeks, lips, and other body parts you choose to touch your partner with.

The giver should focus on what feels good, and the receiver should focus on the feeling of pleasure while letting the giver know if something is not pleasant. “You can moan and groan when something feels good. You can even say out loud that something feels good; everyone likes positive feedback,” he says. “The only objective is to enjoy the sensations of this activity for both partners, the recipient and the giver. Use your five senses. Pay attention to what your partner smells like, how their touch feels, what sounds they make, and what their skin tastes like. And if there is enough light, open your eyes from time to time. Next, Phillips recommends discussing how the experience went for each of you.

For its own take on sensory focus, Coles has clients take turns giving each other 15-minute massages with clothes on. “This is not a physically therapeutic massage, so keep your movements light and gentle,” she says. “Remember to massage the scalp, hands and feet.”

After people have completed sensory focus exercises, Nelson often advises them to keep a journal about the feelings they are experiencing. “I like to ask: what happened to you? What made it difficult for you? What were some of these automatic negative thoughts that were arising? What thoughts have kept you from being as present as you would like? It’s important to hear what these distractions are in their head so they can begin to address them. Often, long-standing belief systems arise and it is important to address them.

Sensory focus is about conscious, communicative sex

The sensory focus technique aims to help people become more attentive and present in the bedroom. The slow pace and aimless structure are intended to help people notice their sensations and calm their minds. People can approach sex this way whether or not they are engaged in sensory focus, keeping their attention on the touch they are giving and receiving. “Refocus on the sensations whenever you realize you’re thinking about something else,” advises Phillips.

Another skill that people practice in sensory focus that everyone can apply to sex is communicating about what feels good and what doesn’t. “Too often we have been led to believe that our partners are responsible for our pleasure and that they should innately know what our needs are, what our wants are, what we like and what we don’t like” , Nelson said. “Some people feel very uncomfortable talking about sex, uncomfortable talking about their needs, but they want people to know what they like.”

Whatever your bedroom repertoire, we could all benefit from sharing our preferences with our partners. “You can touch and ask questions,” says Nelson. “What does this feeling feel like?” Do you like firmer pressure? Do you like a softer touch? Where do you like to be touched? And your neck? Although it may seem intimidating, it can open up a world of possibilities for connecting with a partner and building a mutually rewarding sex life.

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