Recently, while talking to someone in my world about their marriage, they shared with me that, while they typically have a huge appetite for sex, because there has been a real breakdown in their connection with their spouse as of late, they haven't been in the mood. "Something that marriage teaches you is that sex really needs to have a strong emotional connection," they told me. "I had a lot of great sex when I was single, but nothing beats when the chemistry and connection are there with your spouse. Once you've had that, anything less is settling. And so, until my partner and I can get back on the same page, I'm just not interested in 'going through the motions'."
Because I know so much about what is going on in that marriage right now, I get why they are currently at their resolve. After all, while sexless marriages are traditionally not beneficial to a couple, neither is the misuse/abuse of make-up sex.
Ask any husband or wife who has a truly fulfilling sex life and they will totally vouch for the fact that that the best kind of sex is when the mind, body and spirit are in sync; when one of these components is lacking, copulation is compromised.
That's why I wrote articles on this platform like "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important", "8 'Kinds of Sex' All Married Couples Should Put Into Rotation", "What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?", "Are You Ready To Apply Your Love Language To Your Sex Life?" and "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight.". All of these are reminders that sex isn't supposed to be merely a mechanical act; it has to go far deeper than that.
That's why I am broaching to the topic of a mindful orgasm today. Because, while any orgasm is pretty damn dope (I mean, c'mon now), folks who've had the extreme pleasure of experiencing a mindful one would say you are truly missing out if you haven't had one too. Here's why. And how.
What Exactly Does It Mean to Be “Mindful”?
To me, "mindful" is the kind of word that we all should want to apply to our lives, across the board. When it comes to a basic definition of what the word means, when we are a mindful individual, it means that we are choosing to live in the moment. When it comes to sharing a quote that I think describes mindfulness quite well, it would have to be one by the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. He once said, "Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life." It speaks to being purposeful. It speaks to being intentional. It also speaks of not taking one single moment of life for granted. Ever.
So, how can you know if you are someone who at least strives to be mindful?
- You believe in a Higher Power which keeps you from trying to control what you cannot.
- You areextremely self-aware (or at least try to be).
- You do not allow fear, worry and anxiety to run your life.
- You don't spend a lot of time complaining because, more times than not, it's a total waste of time.
- You try to resolve conflicts or issues as soon as possible.
- You enjoy the "little things" that happen around you.
- You've made peace with the fact that you're not perfect nor is anyone else which, in turn, makes you more patient and compassionate (to yourself as well as towards others).
- You strive to master the art of going with the flow.
- You are far more interested in giving than receiving, knowing that the universe always rewards the good that you do.
- You typically focus on now until the "next now" arrives.
Whew. When you stop to really take all of this in, mindfulness seems like a huge "exhale" and "woosah", doesn't it? It brings a whole new meaning to "why sweat the small stuff?" and "why miss out on today by focusing so much on tomorrow?"
Because of this, mindful people tend to be calmer than most. They are also loving, respectful and accepting (including self-accepting). Know what else? Mindful individuals have a certain level of healthy intensity to them too. Since they are fully aware of the fact that right now is all that they really and truly have, they usually experience things on a very profound and passionate level. Everything is something special—because they choose to see it as so.
And when you look at mindfulness from this angle and perspective, doesn't it make perfect sense that their sex life—including their orgasms—would truly be some next level ish?
How Can Mindfulness Take Your Orgasms to Another Level?
If, in theory, you can grasp a surface-level concept of how being mindful has the ability to produce some pretty earth-shattering climaxes but still, you're needing a little bit more help to take it all in, let's briefly apply all 10 of the points I just made to your sex life specifically.
- If you believe in a Higher Power and you also believe that Power is who created sex (I am a Bible follower, so I totally believe that God created sex because the Bible says so in Genesis 1:26-27), then you will honor sex as being something that is spiritual, not just physical.
- If you are self-aware, then you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, even sexually (like you might be really great at oral sex but you're timid when it comes to trying new things). You also know what works for you sexually and what doesn't.
- If you don't get consumed with fear, worry and anxiety, then you don't do a lot of "pre-thinking" (other than incorporating safer sex practices, of course) when it comes to sex. You let it happen as it comes.
- If you don't complain a lot, you're not always brooding or stressing over past sexual partners or experiences. You're more interested in what you and your partner can do to make the next time better; not what happened in the past that was less than stellar.
- If you don't hold grudges, then you don't withhold sex as a way to "punish" your partner. You work to find compromise and peace so that the two of you can always remain close and connected; including sexually.
- If you enjoy the little things, then, on the sex tip, you're not an "orgasm chaser". What I mean by that is, while orgasms are desired, they aren't the main goal; you and your partner enjoying one another is and every little thing that cultivates pleasure is welcome.
- If you embrace imperfection, then you're not hung up on body image issues when it comes to you or your partner. You don't care about having flaws. In fact, some of each other's imperfections are what you like the most because those are some of the things that make us all unique. By embracing this reality, you and your partner can be more at ease.
- If you go with the flow, sex doesn't always have to happen at a certain time, in a specific place. Nor does it always have to go the same way. You don't expect anything other than extreme closeness. Beyond that, what will be will be.
- If you and your partner are more interested in giving pleasure than receiving it, selfishness isn't a big issue in your sex life. And that is ALWAYS beneficial.
- And finally, if you are solely into the here and now, then you are 1000 percent present with your partner, from beginning to end, when it comes to the sex that the two of you choose to engage in. And because of this, the stage is set to have an orgasm that isn't forced, isn't "judged" and isn't filled with preconceived notions or expectations.
Now go briefly back over these 10 points again. If you really take a moment to take all of this in, I bet you can see how and why a mindful orgasm can be the best you and your partner will probably ever have. I bet you can also better grasp how to make a mindful orgasm happen too. But just to be perfectly sure, how about a few pointers?
Here’s How to Have Your First Mindful OrgasmGiphy
Now that the foundation has been laid for how to bring mindfulness into your bedroom (or wherever you like to get it in), give me a couple of minutes to provide a few tips on how you can have your very first mindful orgasm (if you don't think you've ever had one before).
First, it's important to keep in mind that, no matter how many orgasm hack articles you might read (including the ones that are on this site), it's not really going to matter much if your mind isn't in the right place.
There are plenty of health-related articles that share the fact that things like anxiety, unrealistic expectations, poor body image issues can impede orgasms. So, it's important to remember that, before even engaging with your partner, you need to be good with yourself if you want a mindful orgasm to take place (sex journaling can help you in this area, by the way).
Second, since being mindful is about being—and staying—in the moment, what is the freaking rush? Practices like orgasmic meditation, affirming one another, listening to sensual music, giving your partner a lingam massage, encouraging him to get to know your sexual pressure points, kissing, cuddling, oral sex marathons—basically getting off the clock and just taking the time to take each other in (even down to listening to the sounds that your partner makes) are all acts of foreplay that can put you both at ease while helping you both to focus more on just being together than setting a goal to have an orgasm in 30 minutes or less.
Lastly, encourage you and your partner to pay close attention to peaks of pleasure. I don't mean what you're saying and doing when on the brink of an orgasm. What I'm talking about is what are the things that the both of you enjoy most before even getting to that point and place? Whatever those things are, get some edging (which is bringing someone to the point of climaxing and then stopping so that their orgasms will be intensified) going by extending those acts while telling your partner what you adore the most about them sexually.
For instance, if you really enjoy having your inner thighs kissed, encourage your partner to also share what they enjoy so much about doing that to you, right in the moment of doing it. Then, when you feel like you can't take it anymore, switch up and do something that brings him extreme satisfaction while professing what turns you on, so much about him, in the moment as well. If the two of you do this, at least a couple of times, you'll both feel sexy, safe and ready for intercourse. And, because of all of these factors that are working so seamlessly together, a deeply intense orgasm could very well be only a few moments away.
And that, my dear, is what gets you to a mindful orgasm.
If you were really paying attention to all of this, you probably noticed that a mindful orgasm has less to do with your partner or even sexual technique. It's more about simply being at peace with yourself and the moment that you are in—moment by moment. Trust me, if mindfulness is something that you choose to make a part of your daily life, I'd be shocked if, not only will it be easier to have orgasms but you'll not want less than a mindful orgasm every time. Practice some mindfulness today. Watch what that could do for your orgasms tonight. Whew.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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How To Have A Successful Hot Girl Summer
Summer is upon us, and you know what that means: It's time for a hot girl summer! The term exploded in popularity a few years back, and it’s all about encouraging women to flirt, have fun, and of course, enjoy some good ol' safe sex. But amidst all the fun, it's essential to have the right tools to protect yourself and your partner.
So, if you’re single and ready to mingle, here are a few helpful tips on how to have the best hot girl summer possible.
Start with self-care.
It's no secret that confidence is key when it comes to having a good time. Before you start swiping on dating apps or heading to the bar scene, take some time to indulge in self-care. Get a new haircut, buy a new outfit, and pamper yourself with a spa day. Having a fresh look and feeling good about yourself will boost your confidence and make you feel unstoppable.
Protect yourself and your partner.
Hot girl summer is all about having fun, but safety must come first. Before engaging in any sexual activity, make sure you and your partner use protection, whether it's a condom or other methods. Keep in mind STDs can still spread even with precautions, so it's important to get regular STD testing, especially if you're seeing multiple partners.
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Set boundaries and don't compromise.
It's common for women to feel pressured to do things they're not comfortable with during casual sex. In a hot girl summer, it's essential to set clear boundaries and not compromise on what makes you comfortable. If your partner doesn't respect your limits, then it's a sign they're not worth your time.
Be open-minded and explore.
If you want to spice up your summer, try exploring new sexual experiences and positions with your partner(s). For inspiration on what sex positions to try, check out articles on our site like this, this, and this. However, it's always important to make sure you're both on the same page and comfortable with what you're doing. Consent is key.
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Date like it's your job.
With summer in full swing, dating becomes easier, and more people are open to meeting new individuals. Take advantage of this opportunity and start swiping on dating apps, or if you're more traditional, head to the bars or local events. It's important to remember that dating isn't about finding someone to settle down with; it's about having fun experiences and meeting new people.
Be honest about what you want.
Be honest with yourself. If you want a serious relationship, seek it out, but if you want to go on a casual date, go on a casual date. Hot girl summers mean doing whatever it is you want to do and not settling. Just be sure to communicate and be honest about who you are and what you’re looking for.
It's all about having fun, enjoying yourself, and exploring your sexuality. But it's crucial to remember that safety comes first. Use protection, get regular STD testing, set boundaries, and don't compromise. Be open-minded and explore new sexual experiences, but never forget to prioritize your comfort level, and don't let anyone pressure you into doing things you're not comfortable with. With these tips and tricks, you'll surely have the best hot girl summer yet.
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