Take a deep breath. Fill up your belly on the inhale. Exhale out through your mouth a little slower than you inhaled. Did your shoulders drop? Did you feel more ease in your body and mind? When was the last time you took a truly deep breath?
As I'm settling back into life after the Camino de Santiago, I'm realizing exactly how little breathing room our culture has. My massage clients are coming in for early morning appointments after pulling all-nighters at work, only to have to go back to the office after their massage appointment. Others I know are squeezing in long weekend trips that align with business travel because their companies won't let them take the time off for a full week of vacation. Or maybe it's just the simple, super commonplace act of working all day at a stressful job and then using an intense work out that over-stresses your body to release the tension from that job (spoiler alert: both of those activities activate your fight-flight-freeze response and your body stays hormonally stressed, even if you think you just released mental stress).
This kind of religion of productivity is killing us. Literally. Heart disease, inflammatory diseases of all kinds, physical injuries, mental health problems like depression and anxiety--all come from too much of your fight-flight-freeze response, a.k.a. your sympathetic nervous system. So, naturally, this cult of productivity is killing our sex lives.
Now, I'm in no place to tell anyone how to manage their company's overzealous expectations or their boss's unreasonable expectations, but I can tell you what is scientifically true about sex:
If you rush through sex, it's gonna suck.
--and not in the good way.
That doesn't mean I'm anti-quickie. But, if all your sex life is only comprised of quickies, you are missing out on so much pleasure!
Here's a practice to give yourself some breathing room, and to maybe even get more God present in your sex life:
First a little theological background: In Genesis God breaths into Adam and that breath, at least in Judaism is thought of as your soul. So, your soulular being is actually the breath of God. Your breath is God’s life force running through you at all times.
Now, one of the ways we can begin to make the connection between our spirituality and sexuality, is to take a few mindful breaths before masturbation or partner sex.
As you take these breaths feel gratitude for the fact that your are alive, and begin to enjoy the simple pleasure of breathing. The rising and falling of your belly. The sensation of air coming through your nostrils. The natural release of tension from your body as your sigh or exhale out through your mouth. This simple pleasure of breathing is the first way to start to recognize that your physical pleasure and the pleasure which the divine offers you on a daily basis. If you do this with a partner take these breaths together, holding hands or placing one hand on your heart and one hand on theirs.
Even just a few belly breaths with longer exhales than inhales will engage your parasympatheic nervous system (the opposite of flight-flight-freeze). Your body will automatically start the process of relaxation, which heals your body and activates your turn-on. Happy breathing, slowing down, and having more sex with spirit.