What does the brain have to do with sex anyway?

The brain is sexy. The brain is our biggest sex organ. The brain is our cheapest, most versatile and portable sex toy.

I talk often about how the brain has patterns that can interfere with our ability to feel our full expression of pleasure and that mind-chatter can pull us out of our body experience. In fact, the course I’m taking is very focused on feeling the body and experiencing pleasure sensations. However this is only one aspect of sexual experience; the brain/mind plays a key role in all sexuality and sexual experience.

The focus I put on the body can lead some people to mistakenly think I’m saying the mind is unimportant during sex or that it needs to be shut off. Rather than shutting down the mind I believe it’s more about engaging it. Fantasy, visual imagery and visualization engage the mind in one way and can contribute to fulfilling sex; some people consider fantasy to be a complete sexual experience unto itself. There are many other ways to engage the mind, including creating an erotic story by pulling words randomly out of a hat or keeping a favourite image in plain sight. I sometimes like to include expressive arts in my sexual play.

We don’t have to be “thinking” for our brain to be engaged. If we are fully aware of everything we’re doing, the mind is naturally engaged, often with no thoughts at all.  By exercising your intention and attention, it’s possible to bring the body-mind connection into full engagement during sexual experiences with yourself and/or others.  This is part of Tantra and other kinds of mindfulness practices.  It’s about being present with the current experience and focusing on the pleasure. When we focus, when we arefully present in the experience, our mind is involved and can be fully engaged. Whether you’re receiving pleasure and focusing on what it feels like in your body or you’re focusing on the touch you are giving another, the potential is the same.

It’s not only the mind that plays a role in sex but the brain itself.  In a very memorable workshop I attended, I was surprised to learn how much our sexual responses are directly impacted by low-level brain processing such as digestion and the fight-or-flight mechanism. I had known that when planning a sexual engagement simple things like creating a distraction-free environment and eating light can make such a difference in the depth and intensity of the experience. This fact probably isn’t news to you either, and it was interesting to learn some of the science involved.

If you’re interested in the mind-body connection and how it relates to your sexuality, you might enjoy these books:

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