(Image by Dainis Graveris taken from unsplash.com)
Since May is masturbation month, I took it upon myself to perform a little “self-love” experiment. Personally, my masturbation ritual looks very different now compared to when I first started touching myself at age 20, as it should! A lot can shift once you start experimenting and mapping out what feels good versus what doesn't. I try to approach solo sex in a way that is curious and explorative. Throughout the years, it has evolved from self-exploration to a sacred act of self-love. It has been quite a spiritual experience that celebrates my body, and more particularly, my p*ssy.
Throughout the week, I took notes of my dos and don'ts and essentially made a self-pleasuring blueprint guide. The goal was to get to know myself better and experience masturbation mindfully and with intention. I thought I would share what I learned in hopes that this inspires you to celebrate and honor your own uniqueness. Moreover, if you notice elements that no longer serve you during solo-sex, perhaps this article will motivate you to do things a bit differently than what you are used to.
Ambiance is Key
Prior to a masturbation sesh, I like to set up my environment the way I would for a significant other after a date. Essentially, I am romancing myself by lighting some of my favorite scented candles and/or incense, putting on some “bedroom soul” (I did not know this was a genre of music until Spotify notified me that it is one of the top genres I listen to) and switching all harsh lighting to that which is more natural and seductive lighting (hello, himalayan salt lamp!)
Finally, I ensure that I have a general idea of what my roommate is up to, just to avoid any awkward walk-ins during my session. It is important that I feel safe, comfortable and stimulated in my environment. Although it is rare, I’ve enjoyed the experience while taking a bath, which I highly recommend if you are wanting a change in scenery to the usual masturabation-in-bed sesh.
Putting on music I like not only not only helps to get me in the mood, but it also gives me more permission to make some noise via moaning or vibrating (bzzzzzzz!). I also suggest creating a playlist and calling it something fun like “Sexy Me Time” or “Sex with Me is Amazinggg.” The playlist’s goal is to avoid any sudden and shocking switch from a sexy D’Angelo song to a sad breakup song that reminds me of my ex. Ouff, talk about a buzz-kill.
(Image by Deon Black taken from unsplash.com)
Guilt-Free Visual Aids
Many people find porn to be a catalyst to a great orgasm. It gets you in the mood when you need the extra visuals or audio. However, have you ever experienced guilt and/or shame while or after watching porn? I sure have. Many former and/or current porn stars (e.g. Lana Rhoades) have spoken out about the realities of an industry with an abusive power structure dominated by older Caucasian men. I simply do not get off knowing that the industry is not fairly compensating sex workers. Any porn that is free to watch is an automatic red flag for me.
And so, to resolve this discomfort, which is the last thing I want to feel while I am masturbating, I decided to research which companies are changing the status quo in porn. I am pleased to say that websites with values that align with mine do exist; these websites appear to care for and advocate for sex worker rights. Subscribing to an ethical porn website has really shifted my previous energy of shame to an energy that is more coherent and mindful.
Here is a curated list of ethical porn websites worth exploring:
- Make love not porn: Curated content, fair trade, and inclusivity are their main values, and includes a fun “submit your own” section if you are feeling up to it.
- Xoafterglow: the focus is mainly on education, mental health awareness, and women-focused pleasure. They emphasize that most porn, up until this point, has been excessively focused on the male gaze.
- OnlyFans: This platform allows subscribers to support their favorite independent sex workers directly through their profile. Profiles are created and curated as content creators wish, meaning there is no particular script to follow, which is the case in most traditional porn.
- Erika Lust/XConfessions: The central values of this site are equal pleasure, aesthetically-pleasing and artistic scenes, as well as relatable content.
Toys, Toys, and More Toys
I first started masturbating with a vibrator I bought for $25 from my local sex shop (support local). Surprisingly, she has been going strong for several years now, although I do foresee the sad death of my beloved friend in the near future. These days I am more focused on quality toys, which include those of superior quality, made with sustainable materials, and sold by companies I feel good about supporting.
It has been quite the adventure trying different toys with the pure intention of curious exploration. Exploring toys on my own has not only given me a better understanding of what I like; it has also sparked a desire to introduce them during partnered sex. While there is now a wonderful, diverse abundance of toys available for purchase on the market, it can also be quite overwhelming to choose only a select few.
I suggest taking your time with it. Do your research, read reviews, talk to friends, and just accept the fact that you may not like every single toy you purchase. I like to purchase toys from websites or shops that have a curated inventory because you get the sense that they’ve only put out the ones that have “passed the test”. In other words, they select toys with the most positive feedback from users.
Over the years, my meditation practice has spilled over in all other areas of my life. This includes all my day-to-day activities, such as walking, exercising, attending meetings, and, you guessed it, masturbating. During these “mundane” acts, I try to focus on my breath and foster some body awareness through a body scan. What I’ve found to be beneficial lately is mindfully breathing into specific parts of my body depending on what my body needs at that specific moment. During solo sex, I like to breathe into my vulva which I’ve found helps to relax her and enhance pleasure. When I first started this practice, I was surprised when I noticed how I had forgotten to breathe which is probably why I was experiencing a lot of numbness not only in my vulva but pretty much throughout my entire body. It felt like I was temporarily leaving my body which made for a very odd and unsatisfying sexual experience. Now, I remind myself that I am safe to feel all sensations, subtle or not, and to welcome them in.
Oftentimes, I go an entire day without realizing that I've been experiencing it completely through my mind. I’ve never been able to orgasm with thousands of thoughts floating wildly in my mind, in other words, overthinking is a recipe for no-gasm. Ideally, I would be practicing more body mindfulness throughout my day which, I found, actually increases my libido tenfold.
Masturbation as an Act of Self Love
Similar to setting an ambiance for masturbation, I like to approach solo sex as if I was on a date with myself. I put on a cute outfit, buy or make myself a good dinner, have a drink, and really get the energy flowing leading up to the act. Of course, this isn’t the case every time, or else I would probably be broke. What I have noticed, however, is that the more self-love and self-care I generally practice in my day-to-day, the more I am wanting solo-sex. When I am exercising, eating clean, and checking things off my to-do list is when I am the most “in the mood.” Freeing up (at least) 30 minutes of my day to connect with myself has been quite symbolic and a true testament to my self-worth.
I hope these suggestions are useful in your own journey to self-discovery. Happy Masturbation Month to all!
Written by Alexia S.