5 great reasons to practice mindfulness over the holiday season

… not just for gay men 😉

With still a few days to go until the “big days”, here are five great reasons why you should make mindfulness an integral part of your holiday season this year:

1. Holiday time can be stressful – especially for gay guys
Holidays, parents, friends. So much is great about the holiday season, but some can be downright horrible and stressful. The mini-agression from the aunt asking if you still haven’t found the “right woman”, being away from your partner – or being reminded of not having one. It’s just not an easy time for many. And it is ok to admit that not all is glittering joy at this time of the year. Luckily short bursts of mindfulness can centre you again and arm you against the stress and tribulations of navigating this family feast and holiday season.

2. You can connect better, when you are connected to yourself
Even if all of the socialising and family affairs are great news for you, mindfulness can make you more connected. Not just to yourself – but also to others around you. Regular mindfulness training increases your empathy and allows you to connect more intimately to people around you.

3. It’s bleak outside, so be kind to yourself
Unless you are lucky enough to be in the southern hemisphere, you’ll probably already had a few of those days where really the best option was to stay in bed. Rain, drizzle, mist, cold, fog, and a symphony of grey in grey outside. The best method to brighten up your day? Take a short break and treat your mind to a little vacation in a place the sun always shines!

4. Remember? Taking a break makes you more productive!
How many presents do you have to buy? Cards to send? Things to do? If your to-do-list is becoming longer than your Christmas card list it is definitely time to aim for maximum productivity power. Best power up? No, not more coffee… Instead a short, 15-20 minute mindfulness bodyscan will fully recharge your batteries. Try it out!

5. … And it lets you appreciate quiet moments, more!
And don’t forget, while the run up to Christmas and the New Year can be often hectic. The actual days (and sometimes the time immediately after) can be days with lots of opportunities to recover and rest. Sadly, many people are so in stress mode, that they don’t realise. There is a simple trick here though: Actively seek out quiet moments to check in with yourself. Not only will you find more than you probably expect, with a quick mindful “check in” you can enjoy the quiet time even more!

Have a great holiday season all around – and don’t forget to treat yourself to the most special gift of all: a healthy dose of self-love!

Check out more posts about mindfulness from the urbangay blog. And if you want to find out more about practicing some self-love and mindfulness, why not treat yourself to 30 Days of Self-Love, the workshop that transforms your mind and makes you fall in love with yourself again.

Day 10: Relaxing

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. (Burroughs) Click To Tweet

Today’s objective: Appreciate the importance of relaxation and scheduling small, short relaxation exercises into the daily routine.

On day 4 we already briefly touched on relaxation as an important part of self-care. Not relaxing will leave you stressed, cranky, unproductive, unable to deal with every day problems – and actually less able to take care of both yourself and others. Therefore, even though it might sound paradoxical, if you don’t have time to relax, is probably the time you need to make relaxation a priority.

Relaxing doesn’t need to come in the form of a long holiday. In fact, it may be wiser to

End of the preview.

“I went from questioning myself and self doubting to
building love for myself. Thank you!”

The full workshop with all activities is available as a digital download directly from here

30 Days of self-loveor buy the book now from any good bookseller.
ISBN 978-1546592815 (soft cover)   978-1370141586 (eBook)
To order online – via bookfinder
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Touch, Hug, Cuddle for instant magic

We have become a pretty touch-phobic society: touching someone has become almost exclusively reserved to sexual touch. Ironically, touch can communicate many more emotions: anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness, and sadness. And a lack of touch (let alone hugging and cuddling) can make us really seriously ill. But we don’t have to look just at the negative effects of not-touching. There are great reasons for including touch in your relationship – and many don’t have to be sexual at all, of course. In fact, non-sexual touching, hugging and even cuddling in particular can have a massively positive effect on relationships (both romantic or other!).
So what are the positive effects of touching? Here are 5 big reasons to touch, hug and cuddle more:

Non-sexual touching is pretty rewarding
From increased tips, to selling more cars: Something as simple as a brief touch can have a great effect on the receiver, making them more generous. If a 1 second touch can do this to a stranger, imagine what a ten minute cuddle can do to your relationship!

Instant feel-good
Want to feel sexier? Happier? More connected? Simple solution is to touch others – and allow them to touch you back. It doesn’t have to be sexual at all to achieve this. And yes, you could go to a cuddle class… but maybe introducing more consensual touching and gentle, non-sexual hugs into your life will achieve pretty much the same thing for free.

Immune system, pain-relief and heart health
Want your partner to be healthy? Or reap the benefits for yourself: Do a bit more than brief touching and cuddle. Effect? Increased immune function to fight off disease, relief of many types of pain and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Less stress. Less anxiety. More sex.
Cuddles reduce stress and social anxiety, both major lust killers. Simultaneously, it releases dopamine, which in turn makes you think more positive … and be more open to sex. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have sex with the person cuddling you, of course! As the effect lasts several hours, there is no excuse not to bring more non-sexual touching and cuddling into your life with others.

Strength for your relationship
How to build a strong relationship? One item stands out: cuddle. In romantic relationships, post-sex cuddles increase both satisfaction with the sex as well as satisfaction with the relationship. Sadly, men in particular are often quicker under the shower than in each others arms. Something to think about if you want to keep him!

Btw… if you want to try out more touch-based connections in your relationship a try, give the touching in the form of basic tantra from the bootcamp a try. And remember to join in November for more Tantric Vibes.

Day 20: Stress Reduction

Stress remains one of the main causes of health problems in our society today: from heart disease, depression, cancer to erectile disfunction… many health problems are either caused by stress or are made significantly worse by stress. But not just health suffers: decision making under stress is notoriously bad and flawed. Over the nearly three weeks of the bootcamp, you probably have noticed how quieting the mind can actually lead to much better outcomes. You may also have noticed how your mind has started to quiet down as a result of the practice and training to focus.

The success of mindfulness to reduce stress and the potentially terrible consequences of ongoing stress are so impressive, mindfulness-based stress reduction programs are increasingly common, financed by major health systems as well as more and more employers using mindfulness training to increase productivity.

Of course, this bootcamp isn’t about the potential financial and health consequences of adopting a mindful lifestyle: but it is about creating a more healthy, happy and “present” you. And one of the most important things you can do to achieve this, is to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

Stress can have many reasons, and what causes stress can be very different from person to person. Discussing this goes well beyond the scope of this blog. However, with increasing mindful practice, you maybe starting to become increasingly aware of stressor or situations that are creating stress in your life.

For many people the immediate response is to respond quickly to the stress-creating situation, for example, by doing something to counter-balance the stress that has been caused (note: this could be by doing nothing at all!). This can, sometimes, be a good response, of course. But often it is not.

Unfortunately, stress is pretty much unavoidable. However, with a little practice mindfulness cannot just help to reduce general stress levels, but also take away some of the stress-creating issues (or at least lessen their impact!). The trick to successful stress management day by day is often to recognise a stress-creating situation early – and respond with a stress-lessening counter-action: so don’t respond to the situation, but first reduce the level of stress. This is, of course, easier said then done.

Any of the previous mindfulness exercises can be really useful if you feel a situation is arising a feeling of stress (or anxiety) in you. Today, I’ll give you one more quick activity you can easily use in those situations.

1) As soon as you realise something is causing you stress, focus on your breath for at least 3 breaths. Take deep and long breaths. You should feel a little more calm as a result of this.

2) Visualise the situation or emotion that is causing you stress. Visualise the situation as being in a box, on a river, coming slowly towards you.

3) When it reaches you, extend your hands and take the box out of the river. Look at the box for a few moments. Turn it around. Examine how it feels.

4) Once you are finished examining the box, place it back in the river. See how the river carries it away. Visualise how it moves in the water, moving away from you: first slowly, then more rapidly.

5) Take a few more deep breaths as you see the box disappearing far away on the river, and come back to the present.

Try and use this quick activity (it shouldn’t really last more than two or three minutes) two or three times today when you feel something potentially stressful might be about to happen or has just happened – instead of either avoiding the activity or reacting in a particular way.

How does it feel to take a look at the situation? Do you feel it makes any difference in how you react or feel? Share your thoughts below!

urbangay bootcamp: Day by Day

With just a week away, here is a look at the day to day program of the urbangay bootcamp, which starts on the 1. March.  As you can see, the bootcamp is divided into two parts:

Part 1 is the “skills” section: in this part, daily activities and material will cover the basic skills of mindfulness and meditation in a no-nonsense and easy to follow way.
Part 2 is the “application” section: here the skills from part 1 are the essential tools to take a break, have a look at life and love – and discover a bit more about you.

As you can see… it will be a fun month of daily, small activities, which make you think, change the way you look at life, make you appreciate life more, that are sexy and enjoyable!

To join – all you have to do is come back to the blog for the new activities. There is no fee, no application but please let me know how you like the bootcamp and the activities!
Alternatively: you can sign up to the newsletter (delivered as a weekly digest).
If you prefer your posts daily: you can also follow via Instagram or Twitter – and now also via Facebook.

Part 1 Mindfulness and Meditation
Wednesday 01/03/17 Basics of the bootcamp
Thursday 02/03/17 What’s meant by Mindfulness, Meditation and Tantra?
Friday 03/03/17 Here come the #urbangays! A Manifesto
Saturday 04/03/17 Switching from autopilot activity to mindfulness
Sunday 05/03/17 Focusing on Breathing
Monday 06/03/17 Daily life as mindfulness practice
Tuesday 07/03/17 Awareness
Wednesday 08/03/17 Awareness (part 2)
Thursday 09/03/17 Body scan – the quick way to check in with yourself
Friday 10/03/17 Letting go
Saturday 11/03/17 Mindfulness Recap
Sunday 12/03/17 The basics of Meditation
Monday 13/03/17 Meditating for relaxation
Tuesday 14/03/17 Meditation as a tool for change
Wednesday 15/03/17 Meditation for sex
Part 2: Life, Love, Sex
Thursday 16/03/17 Checking in on life: nourishing and deleting activities
Friday 17/03/17 Using meditation and mindfulness as guides: life choices
Saturday 18/03/17 Using Mindfulness to develop your life strategy
Sunday 19/03/17 Training Empathy and Gratitude
Monday 20/03/17 Mindfulness and Meditation as tools for Stress Reduction
Tuesday 21/03/17 Food – nourishing you mindfully
Wednesday 22/03/17 Mindful Exercise
Thursday 23/03/17 You are beautiful: Body Image
Friday 24/03/17 Defining your sexual self
Saturday 25/03/17 The basics of tantra
Sunday 26/03/17 Orgasm, Ejaculation and the role of breathing
Monday 27/03/17 Love yourself without shame: masturbation
Tuesday 28/03/17 Sensuality with mindfulness: Partner massage
Wednesday 29/03/17 Mindful Kink – spicing things up
Thursday 30/03/17 Mindful Relationships
Friday 31/03/17 Sustaining Mindfulness



6 Reasons to try Tantric Sex

Last week I wrote about the benefits regular meditation has on your sex life. This week I’ll expand this to write about the benefits that combining elements of meditation and sex has, in the form of tantric sex – not just for gay guys, of course.

Tantra is to sex what slow is to fast food: a totally different experience Click To Tweet
  1. Expand your sexual repertoire
    We live in a fast world: fast food, fast sex. Sadly, when it comes to sex, we are constantly exposed to forms of quick and rapid hookups and sex: just think of the average porn scene – from undressing to orgasm in five minutes. No wonder we have become “fast sex junkies”. But just as no person can (or at least should not!) live from fast food alone, having only fast sex simply is a bad idea. Try to slow down and go slow food … or tantric sex once in a while.
  2. Share real connection with someone
    Much of today’s sex is also focused on the orgasm itself: whatever way you get there, the main act is often cumming. Of course, it is a great feeling… but focusing so much on orgasm (both in the sense of getting to it – or sometimes avoiding it for a while) takes your attention away from the real purpose of sex: the actual connection with someone else.
  3. Move beyond sexual small talk
    Have you ever been to a networking party? How did you feel afterwards? Excited maybe? Wanted to know more about one or two people you met? Disappointed at the superficiality of the talking? Fast sex really has a lot in coming with networking parties: you connect for a few minutes on a sexual level and then move on. Don’t get me wrong – networking parties are great (so is fast sex, thank you!). But they can’t ever be as emotionally satisfactory as a long dinner or spending a day together. In the same way, tantric sex allows you to move beyond the sexual small talk – and have sexual conversation.
  4. Learn a whole new language
    Learning new languages is a great thing, isn’t it? It expands your horizons, lets you see the world in different words… what if I tell you there is a language out there that is universal, but most people have forgotten how to speak it? Enter the language of sexual communication: no words, based on breathing – and offering pure erotic and sexual connection. Sounds like a mouthful? That’s because it is… it’s not easy when you do it for the first time – but imagine the benefits a whole new language can bring when you master it.
  5. Learn to give and receive love
    Traditional sex is mostly focused on giving and receiving satisfaction. Of course, that can be great – and good if you both get it (or annoying if you end up with a hook up who cums and then doesn’t reciprocate). Naturally, giving and receiving satisfaction is great. But in tantric sex you can actually move beyond the satisfaction focus, and through the more intimate connection learn to give a real feeling of love with your partner or loved one. [If you are into the spiritual side of it, you talk about the heart chakra opening here…]
  6. More than sexual satisfaction
    Sex is great, it’s satisfying. Cumming is a great stress reliever. It makes people happy – and there are many good physiological reasons for that. The problem is, that in traditional sex, you get a quick hit of the satisfaction (physiologically for example through a massive hit of oxytocin) and then you crash a bit like coming down from a sugar high. With tantric sex, things are slower, longer – like a low GI food: it will keep you satisfied longer.

Of course, all of these benefits don’t come in one go. When starting out, I remember going to a tantra workshop and nearly falling asleep… I had become so unaccustomed to this form of sex. I couldn’t understand the language, I kept thinking about cumming and the idea of just touching the other guy for even ten minutes without ‘real sex’ felt like a total foreign territory. I’m also not exactly someone who goes for all the spiritual stuff – at least not as long as there isn’t a reasonable explanation (like the importance of oxytocin!). Luckily though I persisted with myself a bit, and after a few times I discovered how much more interesting I can make sex with people I really care about when I move beyond the quick and satisfaction-focused “fun only” approach. So, I totally get you if you find tantric sex weird or even confusing at first – or totally don’t get the benefits of it. But persist a bit, and I guarantee you, you’ll learn not just to cum – but give and receive satisfaction, love and real inner connection on a whole new level.

Benefits of exercise for more and better sex…

Of course, most people know that sex can be a good form of exercise (in case you want brush up on why, have a look here)… however, while sex can be a good workout, a few good workouts can also mean better sex: so here are the good reasons not to skip the workout.

Sex can be a good workout, but a few good workouts mean better sex - here is why! Click To Tweet
  1. Exercise increases energy
    If you exercise regularly, you are more likely to have higher energy levels than someone who prefers to slouch on the couch (and yes, probably also someone whose only exercise happens in bed!). Of course, most people won’t feel highly energetic after completing a marathon,… so, for a more fun sex life – some moderate exercise is the key.
  2. Exercise improves your mood
    Exercise is a pretty good anti-depressant,  by increasing endorphins in the body, which are a natural form of happy-pill cum painkiller – free of side-effects. The good news: you don’t have to be feeling down to feel their effect either – they will make your mood better anyhow. And if you feel good, that generally leads to better sex.
  3. Exercise enhances stress response
    Cortisol is the culprit here: the stress hormone kills sex drive (if you have ever worked a 60 hour week, I’m sure you’ll know what I’m talking about!). Regular exercise reduces the effect of cortisol – so effectively reducing the damage stress does to your sex drive (sorry, it does not reduce your stress at work though!). However, with a better defense against the libido-zapper hormone, stress can take less of a tole on a fantastically destressing activity…
  4. Exercise improves the body
    This should really go without saying that exercise improves how you look – it tones your body. Of course, great sex isn’t all about having a great body, but it is all about feeling good. And most people feel pretty good in a toned body… and if you feel good, why not share it?
  5. Exercise increases testosterone
    Moderate exercise increases testosterone – at least for a short while. Especially good are muscle building exercises, but all exercise seems to have a positive effect. Again, don’t overdo it, but maybe have a warm-up in the gym or along the river front, and a grand(er) finale between the sheets afterwards.

Of course, you don’t have to trust me on this: way back in 1990, this academic study looked at sex and exercise. Particularly the effect of moderate exercise on men… the result: Guys had more sex, better sexual function and found their orgasms more satisfactory.

So… next Sunday morning, maybe don’t just put off your workout in favour of being with your partner. Rather: get some exercise together – and reap the rewards afterwards!