Science, health and technology
When UBC psychologist and sex researcher Dr. Lori Brotto published her first book, Better sex through mindfulnessshe challenged convention by revealing how mindfulness can be used to address sexual difficulties in women, such as lack of desire, pain and trauma.
Soon after, Dr. Brotto’s sexual health research lab was inundated with requests from people wanting to participate in his research program.
Now Dr. Brotto is back with a companion book – The Workbook for Better Sex Through Mindfulness – which allows readers to apply his team’s evidence-based program in their daily lives. We spoke with Dr. Brotto, a professor in UBC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, about how the practical, step-by-step guide can help anyone cultivate sexual desire and improve sexual satisfaction. .
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness derives from the ancient practice of Buddhist meditation, but has become increasingly important in healthcare to treat a range of conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety and, more recently, mental health issues. of sexual health.
At its core, mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose, without judgment. You bring your attention to a particular target, such as your breath or a part of your body, and focus on the sensations, thoughts, and feelings that arise. It is equally important that you do so with compassion and kindness, learning to recognize and accept every passing sensation without judgment.
How can mindfulness lead to better sex?
Mindfulness strengthens the connection between our mind and our body, and it centers us in the present moment, which helps many people overcome obstacles that get in the way of sexual desire, such as ruminating on past events or catastrophizing about future events. .
The studies we’ve conducted, which have been replicated by researchers around the world, demonstrate that not only does mindfulness work, but that the improvements are long-lasting. The effectiveness is superior to any drug approved by Health Canada or the FDA for sexual dysfunction in women, and more effective than any other psychological approach that has also been evaluated.
In the first exercise in the book, you say that a raisin may be all you need to have mindful sex. What is the purpose of this?
It’s a really powerful activity and a great introduction to mindfulness. Participants literally spend 10 minutes slowly eating a raisin using all of their senses. We ask them: what do you see? What do you feel? What happens when you place the raisin against your lips?
At the end, we do a formal survey and the insights can run deep. It opens a window into how the mind anticipates, how we might be impatient or judgmental, and how the body involuntarily begins to salivate when the grape approaches our lips. It is a beautiful illustration of the brain-body connection.
Who can benefit from this workbook?
Up to 40% of women experience loss of sexual desire, decreased pleasure or sexual pain at some point in their lives. But I think mindfulness can be for everyone. You don’t need to have a diagnosed sexual dysfunction. Maybe you just want to improve your sex life or reconnect with your partner. We designed the program primarily for women, but our research shows that the same techniques benefit men and people of diverse gender identities who participate in our groups.
Are there any sex myths you want to clear up?
The myth that sexual desire is something you have or you don’t. Many women feel like there must be something wrong with them if they lack sexual desire. There’s no. In fact, it is perfectly normal to start a sexual relationship without any desire. Desire may emerge after or in response to arousal, rather than being there in the first place. Desire can be cultivated and mindfulness is one of the ways we can do that.
The Workbook for Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Dr. Lori Brotto is available October 18, 2022 from Greystone Books. Media interested in receiving a copy of the book are invited to contact the contact below.
Interview languages: English, Italian