4 Ways to Feel More Embodied During Sex

woman lying on the grass

Have you ever had an experience where you couldn’t get out of your own head? For some people when that happens, all they can focus on is their thoughts and feelings, and it’s hard to get in touch with their body at all. This can be especially distressing during sex because sex is a physical and mental experience. Physical sensations are a big part of the sexual experience, and it can be hard to enjoy them if you’re occupied by what’s going on in your mind. 

Feeling present in your body can be called embodiment. An embodied experience can be powerful emotionally and physically, but it’s not always easy to articulate what’s going on. When you feel embodied, you feel connected to both your mind and your body, instead of one or the other. Being embodied during sex means that you’re in tune with what’s going on with your body, and you can experience the sensations and pleasure that go along with sex. 

One question we hear a lot from clients in our sex therapy practice is “How can I be more present in my body during sex?” Sometimes, it can be hard to get out of our own heads and into the present moment, even during intimate moments. 

This is especially true for folks who have survived sexual assault or trauma, and who may feel unsafe in their own bodies or who don’t want to be retriggered physically. It might feel safer to be numb, so none of the bad thoughts or feelings can hurt you. However, feeling numb also means you miss out on the positive feelings and sensations as well. Working with a sex therapist who is trauma-informed can help you feel safer as you work to feel more embodied. 

If you’re having trouble feeling embodied because you’re not enjoying yourself or you feel pressured into sex, that’s very understandable. It’s okay to not want sex and to not want sex as much as your partner. Our level of sexual desire also can change over time, so there may be periods where you’re more interested in sex and times when you’re less so. However you feel, it is totally normal. 

It can feel like everyone is obsessed with sex sometimes, and it can be a source of shame to not be as interested in sex as you feel everyone else is. Know that if you’re feeling this way, others are too. You don’t have to be interested in sex or want to have more if that doesn’t work for you, no matter what anyone says. 

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and there has been for a while. We’ve been in pandemic mode for a long time -we’re heading into our third pandemic spring. It seems like everywhere you turn there’s something awful happening, and it can be hard to feel present in your body when there are so many intense and scary things to think about. Then there are the everyday things that can get in the way of enjoying sex – thinking about paying the bills; feeling a little blah; worrying about how you look, sound, smell, or taste; self-judgment; the list goes on. If you find it hard to stay present during sex, you’re not alone. 

Getting out of your own head takes practice and patience. Here are 4 ways to feel more embodied during sex: 

Focus on the breath 

The breath is a great way to come back to your body when you’re caught up in thoughts. Concentrating on breathing in and out can help you return to the present and notice what’s happening in your body and around you. It also doesn’t take a ton of concentration, so you can still take in pleasurable sensations and notice what’s happening as you bring your focus back to your breath. If you notice that you feel most in your head and not in your body during sex, start taking some deep breaths in and out. You can even count for a certain amount of time on the inhale and exhale to bring awareness to your breath moving in and out of your lungs. 

Explore your senses 

Another way to practice embodiment during sex is to explore the sensory information you’re getting. It can be hard to take in all of the sensations and information we get during sex, especially if we’re used to tuning out or dissociating during sexual contact. It can be helpful to explore your senses one at a time, to take in what’s going on. As you get more practice, it might be easier to take things in. Go sense by sense and see where you can bring awareness to what’s going on in your body. 

Keep a sex journal

Keeping track of how you feel during sexual experiences can help you spot patterns and make connections. Try keeping a journal where you make notes after sex to track your experience and your reaction to it. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you like but taking the time to write things down can help you process and it can give you some distance so you are able to spot patterns that you weren’t seeing before. 

Talk to your partner about what to look for when you’re not present

If you’re having sex with someone else, it might be helpful to chat with them about this beforehand. Explain that sometimes you have a hard time being present during sex, and tell them what to look for. You can have a plan in place for what to do if that happens during sex so that both of you feel prepared and informed. It can be helpful to refer to your sex journal to try and pinpoint what happens for you when you’re not feeling embodied. Do you go nonverbal? Do you have a hard time asking for what you need? Anything you can tell them will help both of you figure out how to proceed when this comes up so you can both feel safe. 

Are you looking for more ways to feel embodied during sex? Working with a sex therapist can help you create space to reflect on what is and isn’t working for you sexually so you can live your best life. Get in touch today!

gay couple hugging while lying down

Are you looking for more ways to feel embodied during sex? Working with a sex therapist can help you create space to reflect on what is and isn’t working for you sexually so you can live your best life. Get in touch today!