Intimate pleasure is certainly not reserved for those who are coupled up. Even though much of the public conversation centers on commercialized date nights for couples celebrating their love, intimate pleasure actually starts with the single self.
Masturbation shouldn’t be considered only a consolation prize for singles or for those whose partners aren’t present. Instead, it’s a method of relieving stress or anxiety, understanding and connecting to yourself, and appreciating your body. Discovering, embodying, and fostering your sexual relationships with yourself is the ultimate form of self-love.
Here is intersectional feminist and sex coach Cara Kovacs‘ expert advice to start developing a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship with yourself through mindful masturbation.
Step one: let loose
When we are young children, we relate naturally to our bodies. Over time, society teaches us to associate shame or trauma with our genitals. For instance, we are taught to call penises and vaginas by other names such as “private parts.” We need to shed this shame and relearn to appreciate our bodies with a sense of childlike wonder.
Cultivating tantric pleasure of the self means to be fully embodied in your sexual truth, which, in the beginning, may bring up feelings of embarrassment—but remember, this embarrassment stems from indoctrinated societal shame. Kovacs suggests considering this saying: “If you want to be friends with someone, treat them like you are already friends.” The spirit behind this statement can be applied to self-pleasure. Try to begin the process as though it is something you are already comfortable with. Start slow with something that you know makes you feel good, like a self-massage, or form a ritual environment with candles and sensual music to get yourself in the mood. As long as it feels like a celebration of the self, it’s a good place to start.
Exploring and discovering what turns you on in a positive and playful way will also help you communicate your desires later to your chosen partner.
Step two: give attention to your wholeness
The act of masturbation is often focused solely on the genitals, which can make the orgasm feel like a localized, conditioned response that only pertains to one part of the body. However, during conscious sexual practice, orgasms don’t have to be constrained to only one part of the body, but can be experienced in multiple parts or through the entire body.
See what it feels like to touch your body in the same way you would touch your lover. Listen to your intuition and give love to the spaces that are asking for it. Think of the difference you feel when a partner pleases you because they truly want to and are experiencing mutual pleasure through serving you versus when a partner is doing something out of obligation. Try to apply this outlook to yourself. If it’s difficult to get yourself into this mindset, remind yourself of these universal teachings of Tantra:
- Pleasure is your birthright
- Your very existence is a miracle through which you are capable to create orgasm from self love
Step three: pay homage to the self
Often when masturbating, people imagine their current crush, favorite celebrity, experiences with past lovers, or watch porn. In your mindful masturbation practice, consider instead not thinking of any of these stimuli and just focus on you pleasuring you.
Kovacs says to ask yourself, “Must I imagine the presence of another soul for this to be a sexually satisfying experience?” If you think that you do, then revisit steps one and two until the concept doesn’t seem so outlandish. The first time Kovacs was able to honor the self in masturbatory practice, she took the advice of a friend who told her that “she self-pleasured with crystals, while imagining herself lying on a giant log in the Amazon covered in rain, orgasming with the culmination of the jungle.”
The most striking aspect of the fantasy to Kovacs was that there was no one else present in it. So, try to remember that you deserve to hear and feel what you wish a partner to tell and do for you. Tell yourself that you love yourself, that you’re amazing and that your body is divine.
“When you pay total homage to the capability of your body to connect to the affirming force of pleasure, you create a conscious container of self respect,” Kovacs says. “You give yourself the affirmation you no longer need to seek to receive.”