Slow Sex in Manhattan

Slow Sex in Manhattan

“I want to know what became of the changes We waited for love to bring. Were they only the fitful dreams Of some greater awakening? –Jackson Browne, The Pretender   The cultivation of sexual mindfulness One rainy Friday afternoon in mid-summer, I traveled uptown to speak with Nicole Daedone, a former professor of semantics who now devotes herself full-time to teaching what must be one of the world’s most curious mindfulness techniques. At Daedone’s OneTaste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, and at workshops she conducts around the world, practitioners gather together to do “Orgasmic Meditation” (“OM for short”) —  a simple technique, really, but an odd one. OM is done in pairs.   In OM, a woman undresses from the waist down, lies on her back and receives direct clitoral stimulation from her (male or female) partner for fifteen minutes.   Not to achieve sexual climax necessarily, though that might occasionally happen.   Rather, just to practice sexual mindfulness for its own sake. That’s it.   That’s OM. So why is this strange practice  suddenly so popular?   And why is Daedone’s book, Slow Sex:  The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm currently getting 4 and 1/2 stars on Amazon?   Sex in the 21st Century Daedone’s work arrives at a curious point  in modern sexual history. With erotica flooding the internet, sex has become pretty much just another consumer commodity.   Most Americans today are either overworked (not particularly conducive to good sex, which requires leisure) — or else unemployed (DEFINITELY not conducive to good sex).   Many young people’s experience of sex seems to involve drunken...
How The Self Comes Into Being: Remembering Daniel Stern

How The Self Comes Into Being: Remembering Daniel Stern

Stern’s Groundbreaking Work Explored The World Of Babies A month ago, an article in The New York Times noted the passing of Daniel Stern, MD (below) — psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher, at his home in Switzerland. Stern’s death failed to make the Times’ front page, but the Science Times featured a memorial piece by Douglas Martin that pretty well captured the significance of Stern’s work. I was a resident in psychiatry at New York Hospital / Cornell Medical Center in 1985 when Stern published his groundbreaking work, The Interpersonal World of the Infant. The book took the psychology world  by storm in the 1980’s, and Stern went on to become an academic superstar of the highest rank. Drawing on Stern’s own experience both as an infant researcher and a psychoanalyst, the book pulled together a vast amount of research to try to answer basic questions such as “What’s it like to be a baby”?  and “How do infants and toddlers experience the world?” It also posed the most important question of all — “How does the SELF come into being?”   The Self Comes Into Being in “Layers.” Stern’s answer was that the self is a layered creation.  As the infant’s mind unfolds and develops, adding new capabilities month by month, new layers of selfhood are laid upon the old. The speaking self of 18 months is built on layers going all the way down to the original nursing self of the newborn. As a sex therapist, I’ve been rather interested in these matters. After all, peak sexual experiences (the kind most of us yearn for) seem necessarily to involve a regression to states of mind...
Slow Sex, and being deeply nourished.  The Nicole Daedone interview, continued.

Slow Sex, and being deeply nourished. The Nicole Daedone interview, continued.

      In previous articles in this series, we’ve been discussing a sexuality practice popularized by author Nicole Daedone – a technique she’s named “Orgasmic Meditation,” though it doesn’t necessarily involve sexual climax in the conventional sex. In her book Slow Sex, she describes how a woman can develop her capacity for sexual attention by simply focusing without distraction, for 15 minutes, while a partner strokes the upper left quadrant of her clitoris. At her center in San Francisco, and at workshops she’s led throughout the country, her goal is to show women “how to sink down and truly feel during sex.” That’s something many women complain they can’t easily do. Daedone’s work is controversial.  Since it sometimes involves women getting sexually aroused in a group setting, it’s certainly immodest by most people’s standards.   But she has a committed following of individuals and couples willing to devote considerable time and energy to  “sinking down and truly feeling during sex.” The following is a continuation of our recent conversation in New York: Nicole, when I first read in The New York Times about what you have people do –repetitive stroking of a woman’s clitoris – I thought, “Oh no, not that goal-oriented thing again that gets so many couples in trouble.”  But in your book Slow Sex, you make it clear that it’s not that at all.  It’s not intended to produce a sexual climax.  Or even to get a person sexually excited, in the conventional sense. Yeah, that confuses a lot of people. Well, if you call a practice “Orgasmic Meditation,” people are going to assume it’s about...
SexualityResource interviews “Slow Sex” author Nicole Daedone — on going to the place of pure feeling

SexualityResource interviews “Slow Sex” author Nicole Daedone — on going to the place of pure feeling

TEDx SF 2011 Alive – Nicole Daedone ©Suzie Katz via Creative Commons   “Be who G-d meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” — Saint Catherine of Siena   Slow Sex author Nicole Daedone says she first learned the technique she now calls “Orgasmic Meditation” (OM)  from someone who’d learned if from someone else — but that she’s not sure who really started it, or when.  She says it goes back a long time. As she recounts in her recent TEDx talk, a man she met at a party in San Francisco asked her to let him introduce her to what he called a “sexuality practice.”   For some reason, without knowing much more about it than that, she agreed. She recalls that he instructed her to undress from the waist down, and to lie on her back with her legs butterflied open.  Which she did.  He sat down beside her, fully clothed. He spent some time describing her vulva.  He then began to stroke her clitoris very gently and precisely – up and down — with his left index finger. What happened then?  At first, nothing. As she recalls, “Nothing happened.  Absolutely nothing.  I was where I always am, or was, when I was in any kind of sexuality act — “I was in my head.  I was thinking about whether or not I looked good.  Whether I was doing this thing right.  Whether this guy was kind of creepy.  Whether I was going to marry him . . . “And then, all of a sudden, the traffic jam that was my mind broke...
Nicole Daedone, “Slow Sex,” and the art of eating a tomato.

Nicole Daedone, “Slow Sex,” and the art of eating a tomato.

      “The Tao is like a vessel that can never be filled up. It is deep and endless, like the source of all things.”  — Lao-Tzu   Not far into her book Slow Sex, Nicole Daedone recounts the story of  the first time she ever tasted a home-grown heirloom tomato.    She was ten years old, and recalls that she’d previously known tomatoes only as things to be sliced and put on a plate.    But this was different — “I bit in and I understood.  Rich, earthy, dense.   The taste of minerals. . .  It was as if this tomato had a built-in speed limit.  It was not possible to eat it quickly and forget about it.” And so this revelation —  “that there were tomatoes on this planet that were worth your time.    Tomatoes that begged to be really tasted — that asked you to plug into them with all your attention and all of your senses.  Tomatoes that offered the richness of the earth and sky in return.” . . .  Doesn’t take much imagination to see where one might apply this to sex, does it?   One rainy Friday afternoon in mid-summer, I went to speak with Daedone, who was visiting New York City to lead a series of sexuality workshops.  A former professor of semantics, Daedone now devotes herself full-time to teaching what must be one of the world’s oddest sex practices. At Daedone’s OneTaste center in San Francisco, and at the many workshops she conducts around the country, women gather together to cultivate sexual mindfulness while receiving direct clitoral...