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What Meditation and Sex Have in Common + How to Meditate

December 7, 2011

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Did you know that meditation and sex offer the same effects on the brain? And as it turns out, those effects are pretty good!

A fascinating article in Scientific American titled The Neurobiology of Bliss--Sacred and Profane reported on a study that suggests that the brain reacts the same way to meditation as it does to sex. Both dissolve our sense of self-awareness, separating ourselves from our ego. 

In the article, lead researcher Gemma O'Brien, explains that people meditating and having an orgasm both experience "diminution of self-awareness," "alterations in bodily perception" and "decreased sense of pain."

When you meditate, the left side of your brain lights up and when you have sex, the right side of your brain lights up. 

Why is this a good thing? Both experiences lead to a cessation of mental chatter and help you lose physical and mental boundaries. 

Tibetan Buddhist monks have created the greatest measured spike in activity in the region of the left prefrontal cortex, which correlates with happiness. The monks achieve this state of happiness by simply meditating on compassion. Essentially, wishing others to be free from their suffering reduces our obsessive self-concern.

You can check out more on the study at Scientific American.

In the meantime, if you are new to meditation, look for a meditation class near you or you can follow these easy instructions.

How to meditate

The purpose of meditation is to make your mind calm and peaceful. Meditation simply means to become familiar with your object, which could be a variety of different things – love, compassion, the faults of anger, or improved concentration. These are just a few the topics you could choose to make your mind calm and happy.


  • Sit with your back straight but relaxed around a straight spine.
  • Allow the muscles in your body to relax.
  • Draw your attention inward by focusing on the breath.
  • When a thought arises, gently bring your attention back to the breath.
  • Set an intention – e.g. I want to improve my concentration, I want to reduce my anger, I want to increase my compassion. Your intention will inform your meditation.

Contemplation – Examples

  • To improve concentration, focus on your breathing.
  • To reduce anger, think about on the good qualities of a person and the bad qualities of anger.
  • To increase love and compassion, think that everyone has the same two wishes: to be happy and to be free from suffering.


  • When you find your object of meditation, hold it for as long as you can.
  • When you notice you have lost your object, engage in contemplation again.


  • Send all the positive energy gathered during your session to the benefit of others.
  • You can think about specific people or everyone who has problems, wishing them to be free from those problems and to experience happiness and good health.

Subsequent practice

  • Carry your object of meditation with you as much as possible.
  • Try to integrate the meditation into your daily life.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits of your practice.