Purpose: To develop and experience a connection between loving feelings and sensation in your genital area.

Suggested Time: 5 to 10 minutes

Wear soft, loose-fitting clothing. Sit back or lie down in a private space, such as your bedroom. Place one hand over your heart. Breathe deeply, relax, and feel your hand rise and fall with each breath. Consciously soften the muscles in your chest and abdomen as you breathe fully. Smile into your heart with appreciation for its steady beat and life-giving energy. Open or close your eyes de­pending on what helps you feel present, relaxed, and more com­fortable.

With your hand over your heart, focus on what you like and ap­preciate about yourself. Recall things you have done in the past that you feel good about and traits that you admire in yourself. If you are in an intimate relationship think about your partner—what you love and admire about her and your relationship.

Keeping one hand on your heart, place your other hand on or near your genital area in a position that feels comfortable to you. Continue to breathe and relax. Notice the link you are forming with your two hands between your heart and your genitals. Become aware of what it is like to touch both your heart and your genitals simul­taneously, and feel sensations from both areas at the same time. Focus on the positive things your genitals have brought to your life. As you breathe, shift your consciousness back and forth between an awareness of your heart and genitals, and the energy connection your hands help them form. If your mind begins to wander gently bring it back to your relaxed breathing. Maintain this position for several minutes, or as long as it feels comfortable to you. When you feel ready to stop, remove both hands and breathe deeply for a few more minutes, reflecting on the experience.

Variations:

1. Practice the exercise without clothing.

2. If you are in a relationship and your partner is willing, practice the exercise at the same time in each other’s presence. Include gazing and smiling at each other from time to time. When you both feel ready, switch the hand that was resting on your own genitals to rest gently over your partner’s genital area. Continue to breathe and relax. Pat or rub with the hand that is over your heart as needed from time to time to stay connected to feelings of love toward yourself and your partner.

3. Practice this heart anchoring exercise prior to any kind of sexual experience.

4. When you are engaged in sexual activity, take a moment to touch your heart or your partner’s heart to activate or stay connected to feelings of caring and love.

There are many ways of expressing loving feelings during sex. You might try using some of the following techniques that apply skills dis­cussed earlier in this chapter, such as:

• Take time to smile and make loving eye contact with your part­ner.

• Temporarily shift your awareness from your genital arousal to the attributes you most admire and appreciate about your partner.

• Take time to verbally express your feelings of affection to your partner.

• Touch in loving and affectionate ways that you have learned will be valued and appreciated by your partner.

As important as it is to express your love in sex, remember that making love is a two-way exchange of positive feelings. You also need to receive the admiration, caring, and love that your partner expresses toward you. Pay attention to your partner’s tender words, touch, movements, and facial expressions and imagine them traveling into your heart. Let your­self feel how satisfying it is to be with someone who loves you and truly enjoys being with you. You might even ask your partner to touch your heart at times during sex as a nonverbal way of expressing love and re­minding you to receive it.

The time you spend with your partner after sex presents another valuable opportunity for intimate sharing. Once the sexual heat is off, it’s a good idea to continue relating in loving ways, such as by holding each other, talking affectionately, taking turns listening to each other’s heart beat, taking a shower together, or even falling asleep in each other’s arms. Being actively intimate following sex through touching, talking, and spending quality time together can begin a new courtship cycle and prime the pump for the next sexual encounter.

You can also take time following sex to reflect and be grateful for the intimate encounter you experienced. By consciously thinking about the pleasure you have in intimacy with your partner, you can reprogram your erotic imagination. Memories and fantasies about real-life sex with your partner can replace porn imagery as your primary fuel for sexual desire and arousal.

I

ntimacy-oriented sex involves connecting to your partner with your body, your senses, your mind, and most of all, your heart. The seven skills we have described in this chapter work together to help you create a stronger, more lasting, and more fulfilling sexual relationship with a partner. This approach to sex can also result in profound healing not only for former porn users but also for their intimate partners. Karen, whose sexuality had been filled with sadness and disconnection be­cause of her husband Johnny’s porn use, felt a huge burden had been lifted when he not only stopped using porn, but changed from “making porn” to “making love.” She told us, “Now that porn is out of the pic­ture and we’ve been approaching sex differently, I trust Johnny and feel freer being sexual with him. I don’t have to hold back as a protective measure. I’m open and expressive with him, and I naturally want to please him.”

Relearning how to be a sexual being in a way that forms deep bonds with another person and is emotionally as well as physically rewarding, can provide you with deep feelings of satisfaction you may never have known before. George, whose porn habit started in his twenties, said it best: “My goal used to be hot, hot, hot sex. That basically is all that por­nography is about. But I’ve found there is so much more in sex beyond that, such as being flirtatious, playful, loving, gentle, and caring. Here I am at fifty-six years old, and I’m having richer and more enjoyable sexual experiences than I’ve ever had before. I used to think that really intense sex would result in true intimacy with my partner. But I had that completely backward. Physical intensity doesn’t guarantee emotional closeness. It’s the other way around. The foundation for a really good sexual experience is a genuinely loving relationship.”