Mindfulness 101 – How to conquer performance anxiety and improve well-being
No, mindfulness isn’t just a trendy buzzword that’s popped up over recent years. It’s quite the opposite – Buddhist monks have been using meditation to build greater mindfulness for centuries.
In recent decades, mindfulness has found its way into Western culture where psychologists have discovered the power of this therapeutic mental skill.
So how does it work? The core principle of mindfulness is simple: you focus on being aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the present moment, without interpretation or judgment.
You don’t analyze why you feel a certain way, or whether it’s good or bad. You just experience the “now”. Once you’ve got the hang of mindfulness, you’ll find it has a relaxing effect on both body and mind, and helps reduce stress and anxiety.
How does mindfulness reduce performance anxiety?
When we’re worried or stressed about a future event or overthink something that happened in the past, we get anxious.
Our brains can’t “think” in two different time frames at the same time. You’re either in the present, or stuck in the past or future.
By using mindfulness, you can focus on the here and now in a non-judgmental way to remove the stress that thinking about other “time zones” can cause.
When you’re in the present moment, there’s no room in your head for negative, anxiety provoking thoughts, which makes it practically impossible for performance anxiety to affect your erection.
Mindfulness re-wires your brain for the better
But mindfulness isn’t just a “tool” you use in the moment to eliminate stress; it also helps your brain develop the ability to stay calmer and more relaxed whenever you’re under stress.
Practicing mindfulness stimulates activity in the brain regions associated with attention and emotion regulation. When you repeatedly “activate” these regions, they promote a relaxing and calming effect on your body.
One way it does this is by suppressing the amygdala’s activity – the part of the brain responsible for “fight or flight” response and stress hormones.
Studies show that after practicing mindfulness for 8 weeks, the amygdala becomes naturally more suppressed – which was proven with MRI scans!
Mindfulness takes away the “power” of negative thoughts
When we aren’t paying full attention to our thoughts, our brains can trick us into believing these thoughts are facts. For example, “I probably won’t get an erection, and even if I do, it won’t last” might feel like reality… even though it’s only one possibility.
Mindfulness shows us how to treat thoughts as thoughts, NOT facts! When we learn how to do this, we stop negative thoughts controlling our experience. When you’re mindful, you minimize negative thoughts and their effect on your body.
In other words, you break their power to trigger stress and anxiety that affects your erections.
Mindfulness helps us break out of the performance anxiety loop
Every time we think, feel or learn something new, a connection is created in the brain. The actions or behaviors we repeat make these connections stronger, while the connections we don’t use grow weaker and eventually disappear.
So, whenever we think about losing our erection during sex (and it ends up happening) the connection between sex, negative thoughts, and erectile dysfunction strengthens.
When we become mindful, and don’t let those thoughts enter our mind, this connection weakens and fades away over time. The more often we’re mindful, the more mindfulness becomes our brain’s default mode.
Studies show that by practicing mindfulness daily for 8 weeks, you can change the brain’s structure to remain calm and relaxed whenever stress strikes.
When you confront negative thoughts in a non-judgmental and objective way, your mind won’t fall prey to the stress and anxiety that follow. This eliminates the risk of performance anxiety that causes you to lose your erection.
What else can mindfulness help with?
Mindfulness is more than just a proven method for overcoming sexual performance anxiety.
Studies have shown it can help with other sexual dysfunctions such as low libido (low sexual desire) as well as reduce everyday stress and anxiety that might cause issues in the bedroom.
You can read more about the proven effect of mindfulness on our studies page.
But helping your sex life is just the tip of the mindfulness iceberg. It’s also been shown to:
How do I develop my mindfulness skills?
For beginners, the easiest way to practice is to follow a guided mindfulness meditation – a type of meditation led by another person. Because the mind has a tendency to wander, many of us find it easier to focus and relax when our minds aren’t left to their own devices.
This form of meditation is often led by a real live guide in group settings or by recordings through apps, podcasts, videos, and so on.
Guided mindfulness meditation is especially useful for beginners, as it takes the guesswork out of how to do it.
After practicing mindfulness meditation for a while, you’ll be able to take these skills and use mindfulness in your daily life, including in bed.
Where can I practice mindfulness meditation to overcome performance anxiety?
Mindfulness meditation is a proven method to reduce the “fight or flight” response, stress, and anxiety that triggers sexual performance anxiety.
We created the Performance Anxiety program specifically to help men reduce the stress and worry in bed that cause erections to be lost and frustration to rise.
The program follows a form of guided mindfulness meditation that anyone can do, even if they have no experience with mindfulness.
The program is easy, safe, quick, and pill-free, but most importantly, helps get your erections back for when you need them most.
With just 10-20 minutes a day over 8 weeks, you can overcome performance anxiety and start to enjoy the bedroom once more.