03/07/2014 12:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Surprising Effect of Meditation No One Is Talking About

When was the last time you said, "I had the most amazing sex last night with this guy who looked way older than his age. He had a slammin' pot belly and was totally distracted the whole time"?

Meditation is often draped in a shroud of incense, pashmina and patchouli. This can lead to misconceptions running rampant about what should or shouldn't happen when you meditate. Most of us have this incredibly outdated idea that meditation is supposed to make us more monk-like. As a result, there is one really significant side effect of meditation that no one seems to be talking about.

Better sex!

Few and far between is the meditation teacher who tells you it is OK to daydream about sex or even become aroused during your sitting. Many have the idea that when we meditate we should only have pure thoughts of enlightenment and bliss. The brain certainly produces more dopamine and serotonin when meditating, but there are actually two different branches of meditation. Styles that were made for monks and styles that were made for the rest of us.

I teach a style that was made for the rest of us, people with busy lives and busy minds. One of the biggest benefits people report is a significant increase in the frequency and quality of their sex.


How can meditation improve sex?

In addition to intangibles like becoming a better listener, having more empathy and mirror neurons becoming increasingly responsive to those around you, meditation is becoming widely accepted and prescribed as the No. 1 tool to alleviate stress. And stress is not doing us any favors in the bedroom.

When the body is stressed, it launches involuntarily into fight or flight mode. The body floods with adrenaline and cortisol, your immune system goes to the back burner, your vision narrows, taste buds dull and your bladder and bowels evacuate. All really useful if your demands are predatory attacks, not the sexiest reaction if you are about to get it on.

Did you know that women are virtually incapable of orgasm if their cortisol levels are too high?

Women who showed an increase in cortisol had lower scores on a standardized measure of sexual functioning in the domains of sexual arousal, desire, and satisfaction. Given that feedback of an increased cortisol response could trigger disruptions in other hormonal mechanisms, if replicated, our findings have important implications for both reproductive health and sexual functioning in women. -- Cortisol, Sexual Arousal, and Affect in Response to Sexual Stimuli
Lisa Dawn Hamilton, BA, Alessandra H. Rellini, Ph.D., and Cindy M. Meston, Ph.D.

Cortisol accelerates aging, is responsible for belly fat and dis-allows us from being present in the right now. When was the last time you said, "I had the most amazing sex last night with this guy who looked way older than his age. He had a slammin' pot belly and was totally distracted the whole time"? Increased levels of stress chemicals are also responsible for a large percentage of infertility.

Men are not off the hook either.

Erectile dysfunction is thought to occur in patients with high levels of cortisol because of the relations between cortisol and stress. -- Kobori, National Center for Biotechnology Information

A client of mine named John who is a lawyer in NYC started meditating because he was dealing with anxiety. He came to a group meditation one year after learning and said, "I didn't believe you at first and it feels crass and un-meditatey to say, but my sex life is stunning now. It is fun, loving and primal, meditation and primal sex aren't an intuitive fit, but now I'm a believer." Obviously meditation is not the only contributing factor, it takes two to tango, but his is not an uncommon report.

So before you break up with your boyfriend because he is not getting the job done or before you resort to the little blue pill, it may serve you well to assess your stress levels. Even if you are performing like a champ in the bedroom, who couldn't benefit from less stress in their life? If you don't have a meditation practice, below is a simple but powerful guided visualization to help you access your right brain, get into the right now and wake up all five of your senses. Try it next time you are about to have a sensual encounter and see what happens. Enjoy!

Come to Your Senses, a guided visualization with Emily Fletcher