Links & Hijinks: Blowjobs, Dopamine, & Carmen Miranda

• Girl on the Net wrote about rediscovering the real joy of sex after stressing yourself out thinking that sex “should” be joyful. I love pieces like this which acknowledge the sometimes unglamorous realities of sex, which many people feel broken for experiencing.

• Here’s some men talking about their sex toys. There’s lots to like about this article, but I particularly lost my shit over this line: “Men can orgasm at the drop of a hat, generally speaking (at least if it’s a particularly sexy hat — I’m thinking a Carmen Miranda fruit hat, that big wide-brimmed one Beyonce wears in the Formation video, one of those ones that has a beer can on either side).”

• Is mocking a man’s small dick on par with the body-shaming experienced by women? To me, the answer is “obviously yes,” but this article is still worth a read, if just for the absurd story therein about two Instagram models whose post-breakup drama played out online in the form of passive-aggressive dick snipes.

• “I can’t stop thinking about penetration” is one of the best opening sentences I’ve read in a while. Here, the Establishment’s Katie Tandy writes beautifully about penis envy and power dynamics.

• The great Alana Hope Levinson’s thoughts on “the cuckboi” made me shriek with laughter. “The cuckboi understands that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, unless you’re eating pussy.” TOO GOOD.

• On the loquacious raving and “intrusive thinking” that happens when you have a new crush: “When the object of your desire isn’t around, and therefore you lack that dopamine rush in your brain, you might feel like you’re in withdrawal. So, you may try to achieve small dopamine rushes from talking about your crush to your friends.” Gawd, I am so guilty of this. Sorry, friends.

• My bestie wrote about why they love blowjobs*sigh* Why am I not blowing anyone right now?! (Well… this post was prewritten and queued up in advance, so I guess it’s possible I am blowing someone right now, as you read this. Who can say?)

• Bex also wrote about sex ed, sex-positivity, and meeting people where they’re at. I love this. I’ve only been working in sex toy retail for two months but I already feel like I’ve learned so much about these concepts from working on the “front lines.”

• This piece on anxiety and productivity is haunting and important. Read this if the current state of the world makes you anxious and so do thoughts of resisting, standing up for what matters, making change.

Trans kink porn is important! God, this article reeeeeally made me want to watch The Training of Poe…

• Depression may actually have a positive evolutionary purpose. Certainly puts things in perspective! “This framing of depression as a space for reflection is empowering, and lends a degree of agency to the person being pressed down,” Drake Baer writes. “Like anxiety, depression might be trying to tell you something.”

• A “boyfriend dick” is the kind of dick you could see yourself settling down with. I must say, though, I prefer the more gender-inclusive phrase “good dick,” which really says it all! (Incase it wasn’t obvious: the concept of a “good dick” is very subjective. Please don’t worry about whether your dick is good or not. If you keep it clean and use it respectfully, there are lots of people who would consider it a “good dick,” I promise.)

• What happens when best friends control each other’s vibrators?! (I think me and Bex should try this sometime.)

• Maybe we need to reject body-positivity and embrace body-neutrality. I love this idea! “Neutrality is the freedom to go about your day without such a strong focus on your body,” says one of the people quoted in this article.

• JoEllen wrote some spot-on guidelines for having good, ethical casual sex.

• This piece about Trump and BDSM argues that consent education, and the communication skills one can learn through practicing kink, are more critical than ever in our current political climate. Interesting stuff.

• I loved this short piece about pain, mindfulness, and transcendence. It spins a whole world out of a few moments of intense (consensual) pain, which is indeed what those experiences feel like to me sometimes.

Meditation, Mindfulness, & My Slutty Mouth

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Two major things happened to me in February: I had one of the worst depressive and anxious spells of my life, and I became obsessed with giving blowjobs.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that these things happened at the same time. We’re drawn to what we most need at any given moment: when your body’s deficient in magnesium, for example, you might crave chocolate. And likewise, I see now that when I most needed to clear my mind and focus up, I craved the sexual act that gave me that experience most readily.

This connection didn’t really hit me until the owner of my favorite BJ dick skipped town and I found myself in a fellatio drought for a while. As my anxious and depressive episode worsened, I craved blowjobs the way I’ve craved other life-affirming touchstones: nutritious food, quality friend-time, creative expression, cat cuddles. It ran deeper than my typical carnal hankerings. It felt more like a core psychological need.

When you struggle with anxiety and depression, people constantly offer unsolicited advice. So I’ve heard it all. “Get more sunshine!” “Try yoga!” “Eat more greens!” One suggestion I’ve heard many times is mindfulness. This seems counterintuitive at first blush – if my issue is feeling sad and scared, won’t focusing on those feelings just make me sadder and scared-er? – but I actually find it works the opposite way. Acknowledging my negative self-talk, greeting it like an old friend instead of slamming the door in its face, diffuses some of its power. And then I refocus on my breath and my body instead of my buzzing brain, and those quotidian sensations are calming in their simplicity. It’s not a magic pill, but it’s something.

That’s what blowjobs can be for me: a venue for mindfulness. They force me into my body and don’t allow me to fall back into my anxiety-brain until the deed is done.

When I first started giving BJs at age 19, I didn’t find it hot at all. “My mouth just isn’t an erotic zone for me,” I remember telling a friend. I felt all those mouth sensations very vividly – the weight of a cock on my tongue, the texture of the skin sliding over my lips, the smells and tastes – and they captured my attention so completely that I couldn’t focus on other things, like my own arousal or pleasure. I hadn’t yet developed a concept of sexual enjoyment that didn’t centre on my own genitals, so I interpreted my BJ dalliances as, “My mouth just isn’t eroticized.” Wow, how wrong I was.

That sensory overwhelm is the main reason I enjoy BJs so much now. They are unique among sexual acts for me in this way. When someone’s fucking me, fingering me, or even going down on me, I can tune it out to some extent if I want to. My mind can wander into anxiety-land, and sometimes I need to remind myself, “Oh, right, I’m having sex right now!” I never, ever experience that with a blowjob. I can’t. My mouth is so front-and-center in my perception that I can’t think about much else when I’m slobbin’ on the knob. It’s just me and the dick, and nothing else matters.

Leo Babauta calls this concept “the universe of a single task” (albeit in a rather different context!). He writes that you should “make each task its own universe, its own specialness.” This is an approach I try (and often fail) to bring to my relationships, my creative work, my very existence as a human. But for some reason, when it comes to blowjobs, I succeed. A beej can be my entire world for its whole duration and I don’t feel deprived or distracted. It is my everything.

This is highly affirming at times when I feel like a fuck-up in every other arena. Maybe I’ve missed a work deadline, or I’m fighting with someone I love, or my financial situation is unsteady. It doesn’t matter. Faced with a dick to suck, all that other shit fades away. A blowjob is a task with crystal-clear parameters and expectations, unlike many other challenges we face. I know exactly what I am supposed to do and how to do it, especially if the person I’m blowing is someone whose body and preferences I’m familiar with. I’m not an Olympic-level cocksucker, but I feel fairly confident in my skillz. Giving a good beej makes me feel empowered and successful even when I don’t feel that way about my life as a whole.

Of course, I’m a kinkster, so my brain is forever swimming in kink, and that probably informs the psychologically restorative way I experience BJs. Being a good girl – in this case, by giving good head – is a way for me to feel valuable when I otherwise don’t. My boss, editor, dad, and best friend could all be fuming at me, but if I’m pleasing a dom partner, that’s all I’m thinking about at that moment – and I’ll feel great about it. Maybe that’s fucked up, but there’ve been times when the satisfaction I glean from pleasing a partner was the boost I needed after depression dug me into a hole in every area of life.

Giving head is also an activity that gives you moment-to-moment feedback on how you’re doing. That is precious and rare in this world of anxiety-provoking uncertainty. I can try out a new trick during a BJ and know in under five seconds whether it’s a flop or a worthy addition to my repertoire. Nifty!

This all makes it sound like I approach fellatio as a zen monk would approach his meditation cushion, and that’s not quite right. True, sometimes kneeling at a partner’s feet to take his dick into my mouth feels akin to prostrating myself before a statue of a revered deity. But there is, of course, a sexy element too. Beyond just having a straight-up BJ kink – which I absolutely do – I also think the psychological calm I get from sucking cock takes the pressure off my sexual brakes. The less anxiety and overwhelm I’m feeling, the easier it is for sexual arousal to flow into my body and mind. Abraham-Hicks says your mood is like a cork held underwater, and it rises fast as soon as you let go of it; I find it’s the same with my arousal. The less I cling to my anxiety, the quicker I turn into a hot puddle of arousal in the presence of things that turn me on. Hence, a meditative blowjob – or other anxiety-quashers like marijuana, booze, and sleepiness – makes me hornier by sheer virtue of eliminating my stressors.

Naturally, this process relies on having a partner I trust – someone who I feel safe relaxing around. But I’ve found this penile peace with more casual partners, too. It’s a nice moment for both of us – him luxuriating in pleasure, and me zoning out on his dick. It’s why, for example, my Tinder hookup in Minneapolis asked me mid-beej if I wanted to “do anything else with that cock,” and I looked up at him with confusion in my eyes and said, “…No.” It had been a couple months since I’d had a hard dick in my mouth, and dammit, I needed my fix.

 

Do you find certain sexual acts meditative or calming? Got any stories or suggestions?

5 Ways I Use Mindfulness to Lose Weight

Dear darlings: I know that weight talk and body stuff can be tough for some of you. It’s never my intention to shame you or make you feel bad, and this post definitely won’t aim to do that – but if you know that this subject matter is tricky for you, I encourage you to skip this post. You know what’s best for you, my friend!

I’m a chubby bunny, and mostly I’m okay with that. I’ve been lucky enough to have lovers and suitors in my life who’ve lavished attention on my curvy bod, making me see that my wide hips, soft belly and thunder thighs might not be the end of the world.

That said: my body seems to work better at a weight that’s a little lower than where I’m at right now. Currently I hover around 165 pounds, and when I’m down around 140-150, I feel stronger, healthier, happier, and more energetic. And who doesn’t want that?!

Last summer I lost 20 pounds (most of which I gained back from the stress of school and a break-up – oh, woe!), and during that process I learned a lot about habit formation, nutrition, and self-control strategies that work for my particular brain. As far as tangible processes go, calorie-counting is the only thing that’s ever worked for me – but my calorie-counting successes were only made possible by practicing mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? It’s an old, old concept often attributed to Buddhism. It’s the practice of being present, of being here now, of noticing and fully experiencing the sensations and thoughts and events of the current moment. When you’re being truly mindful, you don’t replay the past or worry about the future. You just be – here and now and only here and now.

You may be familiar with the idea of mindfulness if you practice meditation or yoga, or if you’ve studied facets of the Buddhist tradition, or even if you’ve used certain psychotherapeutic techniques like CBT or deep breathing. It’s all part of the same overarching idea, but today I’m going to tell you specifically about how mindfulness helps me lose weight. (If phrases like “lose weight” bother you, you can sub in the phrase “get healthier” – the same principles apply!)

1. Mindful eating.

I am still learning how to do this well. Meal times are often blessed breaks from work, so it’s natural to want to kick back and do something relaxing while you eat, like catch up on your Netflix queue or scroll through your Twitter feed.

But experts say eating mindfully is a way better approach. You digest your food better and get more nutrition from it. You’re less likely to overeat due to distraction. And amazingly, you actually enjoy your food more. Tastes and textures seem fabulously vivid and pleasurable when you give all your attention to what you’re eating.

2. What am I really hungry for?

I have learned that often my desire to eat is rooted in some other kind of desire, some non-stomach-based hunger of one kind or another.

If you feel yourself wanting to eat something that may not be so good for your body, it can be helpful to ask yourself: what am I really hungry for right now?

If I’m just bored and want something to do, I can put on a TV show, work on a creative project, go for a walk, read a book, do some yoga, or pretty much any other activity that will capture my attention.

If I’m craving the pleasure I’d get from eating a piece of chocolate or a big-ass burrito, I can seek out pleasure in other ways – for example, by masturbating, listening to some favorite tunes, starting a conversation with someone who makes me laugh, or cuddling my cat. (Of course, it’s important not to replace unhealthy pleasures with other unhealthy pleasures, like excessive boozin’, drugs, or a shopping addiction!)

If I want the energy boost I can expect from certain foods, I can get the same kind of kick from tea or coffee, a brisk walk around the block, or a groovy yoga flow sequence.

If it’s just a “mouth-boredom” thing, I can make a pot of tea, chew some sugar-free gum, or even engage in some hardcore flossing.

And of course, there are times when hunger is actually hunger. Practicing mindfulness has sharpened my ability to identify when I’m actually, physically hungry. And when I am, I eat!

3. Mindful exercise – or not.

I used to hate exercising. (Well, honestly, sometimes I still do. But mostly I don’t.) While running on the treadmill or contorting myself into yoga poses, my mind would go a mile a minute. “I hate this!” “This is so hard!” “This is taking too long!” “Is this almost over?”

Eventually I learned that I experience less psychological turmoil about exercising if I choose to really center myself in the present moment. If I’m intimately focused on every footfall, on the stretch and pull of every muscle, on the dependable in-and-out of my breath, not only do I have fewer resistant thoughts, but the exercise actually starts to feel better. It can be downright pleasurable sometimes!

Learning about mindfulness has also shown me, though, that sometimes focusing too much on my present moment can emphasize any discomfort I’m experiencing. Mindfulness experts would tell me to “breathe through it” but sometimes that just doesn’t work for me, and the only way I can get through my workout is by watching a riveting TV show or listening to a fascinating podcast to take my mind off the exertion at hand. And I think that’s okay, because at least I get the workout done, even if I don’t do it the way I “should.”

4. Stop procrastinating.

Procrastination comes from being out of sync with the present moment. It comes from distraction, fear, and laziness. When I tap into the now, I don’t want to procrastinate.

“I could work out, but I don’t wanna,” I think. And then I ask myself, “What will I do now, if I don’t work out?” and the answer is usually some variation of “sit around doing nothing,” an activity that I know will just make me feel bad and gross.

Procrastination is avoidance – not only avoidance of the thing you’re putting off, but also avoidance of your feelings and experiences in this moment. When I’m really in the now, I often find that I want to work out. My body is crying out for it.

5. The moment will pass.

Studying mindfulness has taught me that no one moment is unendurable. Moments go by. They give birth to new moments. And the new ones feel different from the old ones. It sounds obvious but it can be a revelation.

Sudden snack attack? I can breathe into it. I can choose to think about something else. I can remind myself, “I will not actually die if I don’t eat a bowl of chips right now.” And the moment will pass.

Tired muscles during a workout? I can breathe into it. I can choose to think about something else. I can remind myself, “This is difficult, but it will not kill me.” I can remind myself, “I did this last time. I can do it again.” I can remind myself, “I will feel so awesome when this is done.” And the moment will pass.

Look at my body in the mirror and hate what I see? I can breathe into it. I can choose to think about something else. I can remind myself, “Lots of people have called you beautiful.” I can remind myself, “It’s okay to have ups and downs.” I can remind myself, “My body is strong and can do lots of great things.” And the moment will pass.

All moments pass. All moments can be endured, if you just take them one at a time.

Extra resources: Leo Babauta has taught me more about mindfulness than anyone else. He’s got great articles on mindfulness rituals, beating a food addiction, forming habits, overcoming instant gratification, getting in shape, and lots more.