Masturbation is seen as a very private act, and probably should be, however, not for the reasons you think. Due to the shroud of secrecy and shame that surrounds masturbation, most people don’t or won’t admit to it, and if they do, it is usually under the guide of humour. Because of this, when we discover masturbation as children, many of us try to pretend it doesn’t exist. We are terrified of being caught, and as a consequence, we try to finish off as quickly as possible. Rather than being seen as a self-fulfilling and pleasurable activity, masturbation is treated as something to be hidden and shameful.

It is quite likely that this sets the scene for our self-pleasure and sexual experiences for the rest of our lives. If we train our bodies to believe that sexual pleasure must be over as quickly as possible, and a shameful secret, then it makes sense that either we deny it completely, or we minimize the time spent doing it. This has introduced a plethora of sexual concerns for people such as premature ejaculation, anorgasmia, delayed ejaculation, erectile ydsfunction and even vaginismus. More often than not, those who present with such issues reveal some level of shame and guilt for feeling sexual enjoyment or desire.

Changing these deeply entrenched mindsets is so difficult, particularly if we are not even aware of how they have come about. Telling someone to simply stop feeling shame around sex and masturbation is easy, but doing it is a completely different story. Even taking the time out for masturbation is difficult for many to justify, with so many of us turning our morning shower into a quickie with ourselves. Doing this, though, just perpetuates the belief that masturbation is shameful and secret. In fact, some people go so far as to believe that when their partner masturbates there must be something wrong with the sexual relationship. This, however, is not true. Masturbation is part of a healthy sexuality.

The idea of turning masturbation into a love making session with yourself might be confronting for some, which is understandable considering the amount of associated stigma. But doing something different is always good for self-growth and discovery, so I would like to encourage you to try some conscious masturbation. You may find your mind seeking excuses as to why there is no time or space for self-pleasure, but like with many other pleasure activities, these are often things which need to be worked into our schedule. You may feel silly setting a romantic scene just for you, but showing yourself that you care in this way might affect how you treat yourself in other areas too. Making the time to honour and explore your body in a sexual way may awaken aspects of your sexuality and sensuality that you never thought possible.

Ideas for Conscious Masturbation

1. Time and Space

Make sure you have private time and space. Work the time into your schedule and ensure you will have privacy for at least 30 minutes with no interruption.

2. Connection Through Breath

Connect with yourself first. Start off by doing some light mindful breathing. Focus on your breath and feel into all areas of your body. Notice areas of tension or relaxation and observe the wave of your breath.

3. Connection with Focus

Connect with your sexuality. While breathing, start to focus on your erogenous zones. Whether you focus straight onto your genitals or other parts of your body, start to feel the sexual awakening within.

4. Connection Through Touch

Begin to explore all parts of your body with your hands. Touching from your toes to your head, including your face, allow yourself to feel the pleasure you gain from your own touch. Continue breathing deeply and noticing the changes that may arise from the conscious breathing.

5. Self-Exploration

When you feel ready, then start to focus on your genitals with your breath and hands. Explore the crevices and parts of your genitals that seldom get acknowledged. Don’t go straight towards orgasm, but remain on the edge for as long as you feel comfortable. Enjoy the sensual pleasure for as long as you choose before bringing yourself to orgasm.

6. Acceptance Without Goals

Remember that orgasm is not the goal here. The goal is to enjoy your own body and dedicate time for your pleasure. You may or may not orgasm and that is okay. Just remember that this practice is as valid as any other ritual in your life and there is no right and wrong.