You may have been here during sex: you’re face to face, chest to chest, completely exposed to someone when your mind wanders. Suddenly you’re thinking about the lighting, your body, whether or not you’ll marry this person and before you know it you’re so far into your thoughts it’s difficult to enjoy what’s happening.
In today’s hyper-connected world there exist endless forms of communication, from emails and texts to tweets and status updates. All this connectivity, however, has propelled our culture to a speed that leaves people little time to express what it is they want, according to Andrea Marz, the leader of the Slow Sex Movement in Austin.
Meaningful sex has taken a backseat to instant gratification — just read the cover of any lifestyle magazine, and you’ll find promises of advice on how to reach an orgasm faster and more often. Sex has become so time consuming that 17 percent of cell phone users admit to checking their gadgets during sex, according to a study conducted by Retrevo Gadgetology Report.
Marz, a certified yoga instructor and orgasmic meditation coach, teaches the philosophy of Slow Sex which, like other popular slow movements, such as Slow Food, has less to do with pace and everything to do with connection, and in this case, the connection between two people during sex.
“It’s slowing down enough to feel what it is that you want in that moment, in any given moment,” Marz said. “Slowing down, not to a snails pace, but to the pace that you can feel what it is that you want.”
The problem with sex, according to Marz, is that people become so fixated on reaching the goal of climax that they discount the whole experience of sex — what she calls the orgasm.
“Climax is only one part of the orgasm cycle,” Marz said. “But by only focusing on that, we’re denying ourselves the orgasm that is the experience.”
An Austin native, Marz learned about the Slow Sex Movement while living in San Francisco, where the movement originated under the organization OneTaste. OneTaste was created by Nicole Daedone in 2001 and offers training in orgasm and communication. At the heart of the OneTaste mission is a practice called Orgasmic Meditation, which is a partner practice in which a woman lies down while her partner strokes her genitals for 15 minutes. Under Daedone’s guidance, Marz cultivated the desire to bring the practice home with her, and last Saturday she held her first class.
“People come because, for one reason or another, they want more in their lives in general,” Marz said. “Whether it’s deeper connection, deeper intimacy or help in communication, something is missing.”
Something must be missing, because one week after posting her class on meetup.com, the 20-person list filled up and 10 people were on a separate waiting list.
In a small house-turned-studio, approximately 20 participants left their shoes and judgments at the door and sat on the floor to fill that missing something.
There are three principles to the Slow Sex philosophy: awareness, simplicity and desire. The 90-minute class consists of a few small icebreaker exercises and three main exercises designed around these principles.
The first exercise, the hot seat, places one person at the front of the room, and they must answer any question the class asks honestly.
“My most recent partner and I would be having sex,” said a 46-year-old woman in the hot seat. “And while we were doing it, he would talk about what we did last time, or what he wants to do to me next time, and I realized that we weren’t here, in the moment.”
As she spoke, the participants leaned forward, fully engaged; her response resonated among the class which seemed to feel the same discounted angst about their sex lives.
The second exercise, a lesson on simplicity, requires two people to face each other for two minutes; each person merely makes observations about the other without any judgment. So it’s not that the person’s dimple is cute or not, but merely noticing that it exists.
“People place values on things and put up walls, but what happens when we strip all that away?” Marz said. “We’re left with just two people, and that’s what this exercise does.”
The final exercise deals with desire. Two people face each other and answer the question “What do you desire?” repeatedly for two minutes. The practice seems repetitive, but as participants struggle to come up with frivolous desires, such as sleep or chocolate, more intimate details surface, such as a desire to be more in touch with family.
The class wraps up with another round of hot seat and at the end participants are invited to drink wine, mingle and share their experience with the class.
“I enjoyed having an open forum to discuss the intimate details of our lives without judgment,” said Alex Davidoff, a junior at UT. “It’s something we don’t get to do that often.”
Marz recalled the first time she attended a Slow Sex introduction class. She felt vulnerable and exposed, but she knew she had to go back. Now, three years after her first class, on the third Saturday of every month, Marz attempts to help others fill the missing something.
“I never thought I would get here,” Marz said. “But I’m going to continue to try and create a well-lit place for sexuality.”