Masturbation. Jerking off. Self-pleasuring. Beating your meat.
Whatever you call it, most men are doing it in a way that isn’t serving them.
I’m not saying there’s a right and a wrong way to masturbate (which would be overly simplistic and ridiculous), but rather there are ways that you can do it that aren’t very helpful for your overall life, and there are ways that you can do it that serve you much better.
Just like communication. Or thinking. Or ways to build a relationship. There are ways that are helpful, and ways that are less helpful.
Because most men learn how to masturbate when they still live at home with their parents, they tend to learn how to do it quickly, quietly, and they view it as a means to an end.
They pull up some highly arousing porn, and masturbate to ejaculation as quickly as possible.
As an isolated event, this method isn’t damaging. But when you run this sexual script over and over for years (if not decades), then this way of masturbating sets some deeply ingrained negative habits into your arousal arch that are highly unproductive if you want to have a fulfilling sex life.
So what’s the most ideal way to experience solo sexual pleasure? Enter: conscious masturbation.
What Is Conscious Masturbation?
Conscious masturbation is the practice of exploring your body and experiencing pleasure without racing the clock… without being overly goal oriented… and without relying on external stimuli (read: porn) to arouse yourself.
The primary benefits of conscious masturbation are that you connect to your body more deeply, experience pleasure more fully, have greater awareness around what you find pleasurable, and have an infinitely easier time controlling if/when you orgasm or ejaculate during your partnered sex life.
What’s The Opposite Of Conscious Masturbation?
The opposite of conscious masturbation is, quite simply, what most men do.
Pull up some porn, get hard, jerk off for 1-3 minutes until you ejaculate, and then you’re done.
It’s quick, ritualized, and a means to an end.
It also literally trains you to feel disconnected from your body and your arousal arch, while also consistently sending the message to your brain and genitals that you should always be prepared and able to cum quickly.
And, if you’ve ever had sex before, you’ll know that being the reigning world champion of ejaculating extremely fast doesn’t necessarily garner you the biggest trophy or best spot on the podium.
How To Engage In Conscious Masturbation
I’ve written a deep dive on this in another article on falling in love with masturbation, but here are the Cole’s notes on practicing conscious masturbation.
– First, set aside a good chunk of time with which to explore. Anything from 30-60 minutes (or more, if you wish) is great.
– Make sure that you aren’t using porn (images or videos) to initially get aroused. You don’t want to train your body to only ever respond to external stimuli (which, in itself, is a way to disconnect from your body and focus outwards).
– Use your hands to touch yourself all over. You’ll have your favourite spots that you like to touch, but try deviating from only focusing on 10% of yourself. There might be often neglected parts of you that love being touched that you have just disconnected from after not giving those areas any love or attention for so long.
– You can use coconut oil to explore your body (and/or lube for your genitals) and make your touch glide that much more, or just use your bare hands.
– If/when you do get to touching your genitals, allow yourself to engage in a slow, meandering version of masturbation. Don’t immediately fall into the ‘gotta get it over with’ speed and mindset, as this is exactly what you’re moving away from in your long-term habits. Try using different hand positions or techniques. Give your scrotum and testicles more attention than you normally would. Let your sexual arousal levels rise and fall, repeatedly, and get to know your ejaculatory point of no return.
– Involve your voice in the process. Men can be very internal when experiencing sexual pleasure, and a good way to move energy and be more fully engaged is by involving your voice more than you’re used to. Some people refer to this as sounding. Simple ‘mmmmmmm’’s, moans, groans, and growls can all come through you. Just make sure you’re keeping your body relaxed, you’re taking your time, and remember that you are allowed to involve your voice. If you’re self-conscious because you don’t want any co-habitators hearing you in your conscious masturbation process, simply wait for a chunk of time where you know they won’t be home, or put on some music that you like to drown yourself out. Remember that masturbation is normal, and even if someone does hear your sounds of arousal, that’s perfectly fine. You deserve to experience pleasure.
– Go slow. There is no benefit in rushing conscious masturbation. You are cultivating a deeper relationship to your body. You are re-sensitizing yourself after years of masturbatory habits that have disconnected you from yourself. Allow yourself to take your time. There is no goal, other than to experience pleasure.
What Can You Heal Through Conscious Masturbation?
There are countless things that you can heal and shift through conscious masturbation. Here are seven of the most important ones that, in my coaching practice, I hear men struggling with the most often.
And even if you aren’t looking to heal one of these seven specific things, conscious masturbation will still be beneficial for you. After all, the best lovers are also people who masturbate regularly and know their bodies intimately.
1. Erectile dysfunction
With the clients that I work with (who are largely from the ages of 20-65), the vast majority of cases of erectile dysfunction that I hear about come down to either psychological performance anxiety, or a general sense of disconnection from the body.
By re-sensitizing yourself with a conscious masturbation practice, you will be bringing new life, awareness, and blood flow to more of your body that has been previously ignored.
E.D. often comes as a result of numbness. And not just numbness in your genitals, but numbness that permeates your overall life.
A regular conscious masturbation practice is a one-way ticket to being more deeply connected to your body. And more body-level awareness equals an easier time achieving and maintaining an erection when you’re with your partner.
2. Porn addiction
There are countless studies that have shown that chronic, heavy porn use leads to a decreased response in reward centre activation in your brain when faced with your run-of-the-mill real-life sexual partner. And no wonder! Your partner can’t compete with the level of stimulation that millions of readily available women on the internet provide you.
In other words, watching porn is like eating fast food. And in the same way that fast food is engineered to taste amazing to your tastebuds, porn is produced in a way that overwhelms your brain’s reward circuitry. When you overdo how much you eat fast food, vegetables don’t taste very exciting. And when you overdo how much you look at porn, your partner doesn’t seem as exciting.
So, in order to let go of the arousal addiction that porn keeps your brain hooked on, you must give up porn and come back to your body. Practicing conscious masturbation without the use of pornography might seem underwhelming at first, but as you reclaim your relationship to your body, you will come to appreciate the depth and nuance of your newfound relationship to your pleasure.
3. Premature ejaculation
If the primary goal of default (or unconscious) masturbation is to ejaculate as quickly as possible to release stress, then it’s no wonder that men are having a difficult time lasting for longer than two or three minutes in bed with their partners.
This is the exact same thing as if you were a runner who only ever trained to do the 100 metre sprint for a decade, and then you were amazed that you weren’t very proficient at running half marathons.
Or, as Archilochus once said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
By engaging in conscious masturbation, you will rediscover the subtle cues that your body gives you as you approach your ejaculatory point of no return.
The more awareness you have of the latter stages of your sexual arousal arch, the easier of a time you will have delaying ejaculation and having orgasms exactly if and when you wish to.
If it’s difficult for you to truly drop in to the moment when you’re with your partner, then it’s most likely because you spend too much time in your head, and not enough time in your body.
This is understandable. Our world is increasingly disembodied. The options of all the things we can distract ourselves with is never-ending.
Why be in your body and have to face any annoying emotions or unresolved pain when you can disconnect from your body, live in your head, and look at all of the shiny distractions all around us?
You can go on like this for a while, but the body is wise. It knows what you’re up to. And if you ignore it for too long it will start sending you messages that you can’t ignore so that you’ll have to pay attention to it.
The next time you engage with your partner, you’ll be able to be that much more present with them because your head and your body will be that much more in dialogue with each other.
There is no hack that will allow you to bypass this and not do your work. Either you’re connected to your body, or you aren’t. Either way, it will show up in how you show up in bed.
For all of the things that your body does for you, the least you can do is give it some pleasure. I’m not asking you to practice your long division by hand… I’m asking you to masturbate in a holistic and whole-body pleasure-centric way. Honestly, if this was the kind of homework I had been assigned in high school, I would have gotten honour roll every semester.
5. Sexual shame
Whether you have residual sexual shame because you were raised religious, your parents views on sexuality bled into your mind, or you’re just a human being who was raised in the modern world and our collective relationship to sexuality is a bit fucked, having shame around your sexuality is simply par for the course, and now something to make yourself wrong over.
The opposite of shame is innocence. Viewing your sexuality is innocent, and healthy, and normal is a great first step.
And what better way to normalize something than to engage with it on the behavioural level.
If the idea of setting aside an hour to pleasure yourself all over seems weird, the fastest way to make that seem less weird is to just do it.
You are a sane and reasonable person, and so if you do something on the behavioural level, a part of your mind goes, “Well, I’m not a crazy person… and I’m doing this thing. That must mean that this behaviour is a sane and healthy thing to do.”
Normalize it by doing it. And then do it some more.
It could take a few months of reprogramming, but in less time than you thought possible, the shame that you felt surrounding self-pleasure will begin to melt away. And it will be replaced with self-acceptance, self-awareness, and (ample amounts of) self-pleasure.
6. Sexual trauma
Two common symptoms of people who have experienced significant sexual trauma are 1) anxiety surrounding any sexual activity, and 2) numbness and disconnection from their bodies.
Conscious masturbation allows people with sexual trauma to safely and slowly reclaim their relationship to their bodies.
This practice has worked wonders for clients of mine that have been through trauma that you wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
As I recently mentioned in my article on moving through sexual shame, by progressively re-sensitizing your sexual arousal response through love, patience, and compassion, the painful residue of sexual trauma can be released.
As always, this isn’t an overnight process. It’s not a one-and-done silver bullet. But it is something that you can shift with patience and persistence. It might take a few months, but you will feel and notice the progress. Sexual pleasure will begin to feel safer. It is possible to un-link the arousal response from anxiety, and replace it with calm, acceptance, and ease.
And don’t be surprised if parts of your body that once felt completely shut off and numb (for example, your genitals, legs, arms, stomach, etc.) start to regain sensation. It feels like magic, especially if those body parts had been numb for many years, but it works. Conscious masturbation is the real deal.
(Side note: when working through known issues, it’s always best to seek out qualified professional support, especially in the realm of sexual trauma.)
7. Performance anxiety
I’ve touched on this idea in many other articles, but it bears repeating…
Sex isn’t about performing. You are not on a stage being judged by your partner. And if your partner holds you responsible for their pleasure, well, then that needs to be looked at separately.
So if sex isn’t about performing, what is it about? It’s about feeling.
It’s about feeling, experiencing, and enjoying yourself and your partner’s bodies.
And while having the ability to control if or when you ejaculate is important (some degree of sexual stamina matters), it isn’t the primary purpose of sexual play.
Conscious masturbation allows you to retrain your body and mind’s previous conditioning that sex is a means to an end, and reminds you that pleasure is its own reward. It’s the journey and not the destination.
If sex were a road trip, then it isn’t about getting where you need to go, so much as it is about enjoying the beautiful scenery outside of your car window along the way.
Regularly engage in conscious masturbation to remind yourself that pleasure is the point.
You come alive in your sex life not by achieving more goals and hitting more milestones, as much as you come alive via fully experiencing the pleasure all around you that is there to be enjoyed.
How Often Should You Engage In Conscious Masturbation?
How often you engage in conscious masturbation depends on what your goals are.
If you are looking to undo a long-term bad habit (porn addiction, compulsive masturbation, etc.) then I’d recommend doing 2-3 sessions per week.
However, if you’re in a committed sexual relationship, you live with your partner, and you have an extraordinarily busy life, then I think that even doing a session or two per month would be beneficial to keep you connected to your practice.
When I first started leaning into reconnecting to my body, I engaged in a conscious masturbation practice for an hour a day for two months straight. It was my commitment to myself (just like how some people meditate daily), and it paid off in spades.
Everyone’s frequency will be different… but it’s kind of like choosing to eat a big, nutrient dense salad over a fast food dinner. As long as your life is still functioning well, there’s almost no such thing as too much.
I wish you the best sex life humanly possible, and the best of luck in keeping up your conscious masturbation practice.
Dedicated to your success,
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