Greta Speaking in Phoenix, DC, Chicago, SF, Denver, Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO

I have a bunch of speaking gigs coming up this summer and fall! I’ll be speaking in Phoenix AZ, Washington DC, Chicago IL, San Francisco CA, Denver CO, Charlotte NC, Sacramento CA, and Springfield MO. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Phoenix, AZ (Secular Student Alliance Conference West)
DATE: Friday, June 20 – Sunday, June 22
LOCATION: Arizona State University in Phoenix
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Secular Student Alliance
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: Special Student Edition
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. And students — college, high school, and earlier — face special challenges in coming out. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into?
COST: $39 – $149; group rates and travel aid are available
EVENT URL: https://www.secularstudents.org/2014con/west/

CITY: Washington, D.C. (CFI-DC Special Summer Fundraiser Event)
DATE: Saturday, July 12
TIME: 6:00 pm
LOCATION: Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St NW (14th & V), Washington, D.C.
HOSTS: CFI-DC
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
NOTE: This will be a fundraising dinner for CFI-DC. Admission includes a full dinner with open bar.
COST: $50 regular admission; $100 Premier Seating (add book to either option for an additional $15)
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/dc/events/coming-out-atheist-greta-christina/

CITY: Chicago, IL (Humanism At Work, the Foundation Beyond Belief conference)
DATE: Friday July 18 – Sunday July 20
LOCATION: Hilton Rosemont/ O’Hare, Chicago, IL
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Foundation Beyond Belief
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist — How It Helps the World
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take, and one of the most powerful acts we can take to make life better for ourselves and other atheists. But are there ways that coming out makes life better, not just for atheists, but for believers and the rest of the world?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Hemant Mehta, Leo Igwe, Rebecca Vitsmun, Caroline Fiennes, Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, Hemley Gonzalez, Alix Jules, Pathfinders Panel (Conor Robinson, Ben Blanchard, Michelle Huey, Wendy Webber), and more
COST: $129/ticket ($149 after April 15)
EVENT URL: http://humanismatwork.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Perverts Put Out!)
DATE: Saturday July 26
TIME: 8:00
LOCATION: The Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
EVENT: Perverts Put Out!, San Francisco’s long-running pansexual performance series, has featured stellar line-ups of truly twisted, mega-talented artistes — even an occasional naked mayoral candidate — since way back in 1998.
OTHER READERS/PERFORMERS: Princess Cream Pie, horehound stillpoint, Na’amen Tilahun, hosts Simon Sheppard and Dr. Carol Queen, and more.
COST: $10-25 sliding scale
EVENT URL: http://www.simonsheppard.com/simonsheppard%27su.html

CITY: Denver, CO (Colorado Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday August 15 – Sunday August 17
LOCATION: Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast, Aurora, CO
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Colorado Coalition of Reason, with other local groups
TOPIC: Celebrating Secular Diversity
SUMMARY: Making organized atheism more diverse will help make our movement larger and stronger. And it’s also the right thing to do. What are some of the obstacles to diversity? What are some practical steps we can take to become more diverse? And why is this issue so important?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Jamila Bey, Candace Gorham, Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, Hemant Mehta, Mandisa Thomas, Rebecca Hale, Steve Hill, Raúl Martínez, Mikey Weinstein, Amanda Metskas, August Brunsman, David Tamayo, and more.
COST: $35 – $175
EVENT URL: http://www.cosecularconference.org/

CITY: Charlotte, NC (Carolinas Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday September 26 – Sunday September 28
LOCATION: Hilton Charlotte Executive Park, 5624 Westpark Dr, Charlotte, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Carolinas Secular Association
TOPIC: TBA
OTHER SPEAKERS: Mandisa Thomas; Bria Crutchfield; Steve Ahlquist; Greydon Square; Harry Shaughnessy; Faisal Saeed Al Mutar; and DJ Alex Zygmunt
COST: $125. Includes the Meet and Greet which is also a costume party (costumes optional); all speaking events and workshops; and the Awards Dinner Banquet.
EVENT URL: http://www.carolinassecularassociation.org/conference/

CITY: Sacramento, CA (Sacramento Freethought Day)
DATE: Saturday, October 11
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Sacramento Atheists and Other Freethinkers
OTHER SPEAKERS: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Heina Dadabhoy, Neil Wehneman, Jason Frye, Sean Faircloth, and more TBA.
TOPIC: I’m not giving a talk at this event, but I’m going to be on their Authors’ Panel.
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://freethoughtday.org/

CITY: Springfield, MO (Skepticon)
DATES: Friday November 21 – Sunday November 23
LOCATION: Ramada Oasis, Springfield, MO!
OTHER SPEAKERS: PZ Myers, Cara Santa Maria, Hemant Mehta, Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Ben Blanchard, Melanie Brewster, JT Eberhard, and more.
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://skepticon.org/

Godless Perverts Story Hour This Saturday June 14 — And a Godless Perverts Social Club Thursday June 19!

Godless Perverts Banner

We have a couple of awesome Godless Perverts events coming up soon! We’re having one of our infamous performance events, the Godless Perverts Story Hour, on Saturday June 14. And this month, we’re expanding the Godless Perverts Social Club, the social/ community arm of the Godless Perverts empire, to twice a month — third Thursdays, as well as first Tuesdays — and our third Thursday Social Club will be Thursday June 19!

Saturday June 14: We’re having a Godless Perverts Story Hour on Saturday June 14! The Godless Perverts Story Hour is the performance/ entertainment branch of the Godless Perverts empire. It’s an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.

Heina annalee-newitz jon ginoli Juba Kalamka

SImon Sheppard Chris Hall Greta Christina

Our June 14 event is part of LGBT Pride Month, and for the occasion, we’ll be emphasizing queer readers and sexualities. Our readers and performers include: renowned Skepchick contributor Heina; Jon Ginoli, co-founder of queercore band Pansy Division; local tech geek and editor-in-chief of io9, Annalee Newitz; poet and co-founder of homohop group Deep Dickollective, Juba Kalamka; and erotica writer and activist Simon Sheppard. Not to mention co-hosts and co-organizers Chris Hall and me me me! Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). Festivities start at 7:00 pm. $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.

Thursday June 19: Starting in June, the Godless Perverts Social Club will now be meeting twice a month — first Tuesday, and third Thursday! This is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us — on Thursday June 19, and on Tuesday July 1.

We’re going to do slightly different formats for the two clubs. Our Third Thursday Social Clubs will be a little more structured — we’ll pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In June, that’ll be Thursday June 19.

Our topic for June 19: Sex-Positivity and Secularism in Schools: The New Frontier of Tolerance Education. We’ll be talking about promoting sex-positive sex education, supporting non-religious youth, ending peer-to-peer and institutionalized slut-shaming in schools, and anything else related to secularity, sexuality and education.

The first Tuesday Social Clubs will continue to be more loosely-structured, casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. On First Tuesdays, we’ll keep doing that. In July, Tuesday July 1.

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART — for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, and/or make a donation to the venue. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!

Godless Perverts Social Club Tuesday June 3 – And Thursday June 19! Plus Godless Perverts Story Hour June 14!

Godless Perverts Banner

Two great pieces of Godless Perverts news! Starting in June, the Godless Perverts Social Club, the social/ community arm of the Godless Perverts empire, will be meeting twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays. Yes, first Tuesday is tomorrow, June 3. And we’re having one of our infamous performance events, the Godless Perverts Story Hour, on Saturday June 14!

Tuesday June 3 AND Thursday June 19: Starting in June, the Godless Perverts Social Club will now be meeting twice a month — first Tuesday, and third Thursday! This is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us — on Tuesday June 3, AND on Thursday June 19!

We’re going to do slightly different formats for the two clubs. The first Tuesday Social Clubs have been loosely-structured casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. On First Tuesdays, we’ll keep doing that. In June, that’ll be Tuesday June 3.

Our Third Thursday Social Clubs will be a little more structured — we’ll pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In June, that’ll be Thursday June 19. (We haven’t yet picked a topic — we’ll announce when we do.)

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART — for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, and/or make a donation to the venue. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

Saturday June 14: We’re having a Godless Perverts Story Hour on Saturday June 14! The Godless Perverts Story Hour is the performance/ entertainment branch of the Godless Perverts empire. It’s an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.

Heina annalee-newitz jon ginoli Juba Kalamka

SImon Sheppard Chris Hall Greta Christina

Our June 14 event is part of LGBT Pride Month, and for the occasion, we’ll be emphasizing queer readers and sexualities. Our readers and performers include: renowned Skepchick contributor Heina; Jon Ginoli, co-founder of queercore band Pansy Division; local tech geek and editor-in-chief of io9, Annalee Newitz; poet and co-founder of homohop group Deep Dickollective, Juba Kalamka; and erotica writer and activist Simon Sheppard. Not to mention co-hosts and co-organizers Chris Hall and me me me! We’re hoping to add more names to that list — further bulletins as events warrant. Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). Festivities start at 7:00 pm. $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture. Hope to see you there!

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!

Godless Perverts Story Hour June 14 — and Social Club Now Twice a Month!

Godless Perverts Banner

Two great pieces of Godless Perverts news! We’re having one of our infamous performance events, the Godless Perverts Story Hour, on Saturday June 14. And starting in June, the Godless Perverts Social Club, the social/ community arm of the Godless Perverts empire, will be meeting twice a month!

Saturday June 14: We’re having a Godless Perverts Story Hour on Saturday June 14! The Godless Perverts Story Hour is the performance/ entertainment branch of the Godless Perverts empire. It’s an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.

Heina annalee-newitz jon ginoli Juba Kalamka

SImon Sheppard Chris Hall Greta Christina

Our June 14 event is part of LGBT Pride Month, and for the occasion, we’ll be emphasizing queer readers and sexualities. Our readers and performers include: renowned Skepchick contributor Heina; Jon Ginoli, co-founder of queercore band Pansy Division; local tech geek and editor-in-chief of io9, Annalee Newitz; poet and co-founder of homohop group Deep Dickollective, Juba Kalamka; and erotica writer and activist Simon Sheppard. Not to mention co-hosts and co-organizers Chris Hall and me me me! We’re hoping to add more names to that list — further bulletins as events warrant. Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). Festivities start at 7:00 pm. $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday June 3 AND Thursday June 19: Starting in June, the Godless Perverts Social Club will now be meeting twice a month — first Tuesday, and third Thursday! This is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us — on Tuesday June 3, AND on Thursday June 19!

We’re going to do slightly different formats for the two clubs. The first Tuesday Social Clubs have been loosely-structured casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. On First Tuesdays, we’ll keep doing that. In June, that’ll be Tuesday June 3.

Our Third Thursday Social Clubs will be a little more structured — we’ll pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In June, that’ll be Thursday June 19. (We haven’t yet picked a topic — we’ll announce when we do.)

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART — for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, and/or make a donation to the venue. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!

Greta Speaking — Well, Storytelling — at Bawdy Storytelling May 14!

bawdy storytelling logo

I’m going to be speaking — storytelling, actually — at the legendary Bawdy Storytelling series! Bawdy Storytelling is a monthly storytelling event in San Francisco and Los Angeles (they also have upcoming events in Portland and Seattle) that features real people sharing their bona fide sexual exploits in 10 minutes or less. Storytellers are an eclectic mix of authors, poets, comedians and actors – along with a handful of real people just like you who have submitted their stories online and were chosen for their panache and sense of misadventure. The LA Weekly called it “The Moth for pervs.”

I’m going to be storytelling at the “Born This Way” event, on Wednesday, May 14. It’s from 8:00pm to 11:00pm. I don’t yet know who the other storytellers will be, except that two of them will be “master storyteller” Mike Daisey and “polyamorous playwright” Beth Hersh. I’ll update you when I know more about the lineup. Tickets are $20 general admission, $30 VIP/reserved seating (which includes a free cocktail). It does sometimes sell out, so buy tickets early if you plan to go. Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: There’s a new URL for buying tickets, and it actually has the location of the event. Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa Street in San Francisco. Hope to see you there!

Next Godless Perverts Social Club Tuesday May 6!

Godless Perverts Banner

Tuesday, May 6, is the next Godless Perverts Social Club — the casual, hanging-out social arm of the Godless Perverts empire. Join us every first Tuesday of every month at Wicked Grounds for an evening of conversation and socializing. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us on the first Tuesday of every month for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house, is at 289 8th Street in San Francisco, just three blocks from the Civic Center BART station. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, or make a donation to the venue. Wicked Grounds has yummy food and drink options ranging from full dinners to coffee and tea, with lots of snacks and baked goods and other light nosh in between, and some of the best milkshakes in the city. We’ll be there from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. You can RVSP to it on the Bay Area Atheists/Agnostics/Humanists/Freethinkers/Skeptics Meetup site if you like RSVP-ing to things. Hope to see you there!

Greta’s Interview With The Humanist Hour!

The Humanist logoPodcast fans — I have a really fun interview up with Todd Stiefel and Kim Ellington at The Humanist Hour, the podcasting arm of The Humanist magazine! Of course we talk about my new book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why — what surprised me when I was researching the book; how coming out can cultivate other atheists; how we can encourage other atheists to come out without guilt-tripping or pressure; when to put off coming out; how staying in the closet has its own risks; Atheist Mythbusting 101 and doing our homework before we come out; differences between coming out atheist and coming out LGBT; why we should care about diversity in atheist and humanist communities; and more.

But we also talk about erotic fiction; unicorn sex; tattoos; how authors can sign Kindles; and other silly topics. It was a fun interview, with much laughing, along with serious conversation about deep topics. And the podcast also gets into geocentrism (no really — it’s a thing again!); the Stephen Fry videos on humanism; fun with drugs; electric cars; Toastmasters; and more. Enjoy!

***

Coming Out Atheist cover 150And once again, here is ordering information for Coming Out Atheist in all three formats — print, ebook, and audiobook!

Ebook edition:

The Kindle edition is available on Amazon. (That’s the link for Amazon US, btw — it’s available in other regions as well.)

The Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble.

The Smashwords edition is available on Smashwords. Right now, it’s only available on Smashwords in epub format: I’m working to make it available in other formats.

All ebook editions and formats cost just $9.99.

Print edition:

The print edition is now available through Powell’s Books.

The print edition is also available at Amazon. However, be advised (if you haven’t been already) that seriously abusive labor practices have been reported at Amazon warehouses. Please bear that in mind when you’re deciding where to buy my book — or indeed, where to buy anything. (For the records: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

You can also buy the print edition at your local bookstore. If they don’t currently carry it, you can special order it. (Bookstores can get it from standard wholesalers; wholesale info is below.) Support your local bookstore!

The print edition is $17.95 USD. It is being published by Pitchstone Publishing.

Wholesale sales of the print edition:

Bookstores and other retailers can get the book from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other standard wholesale distributors. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing.

Audiobook edition:

The audiobook version is available on Audible.

The audiobook is also available through Amazon.

The audiobook is also available through iTunes.

And yes, I did the recording for it!

Secular Meditation: Mindfulness and Sex

silhouette lovers kissing on beachSo how might the principles and practices of secular mindfulness be applied to boffing?

In some ways, sex is a perfect arena to practice mindfulness. And in some ways, it’s really, really not. Not that it’s impossible or antithetical or anything. Just that it’s sometimes challenging, and counterintuitive, and complicated.

I’ll start with the ways that I’ve found this to be pretty straightforward. The basic idea behind mindfulness is to be as fully present in the moment as you can be: to consciously focus your awareness on a particular object or activity or experience, to notice when your awareness has wandered, to observe this wandering without judgment, and to gently draw your awareness back to the here and now and to the object/ activity/ experience you’re focusing on. And sex is an obvious, and obviously wonderful, arena for that.

In fact, there’s an established technique used by many sex therapists called “sensate focus”: a way of alleviating anxiety and self-consciousness during sex, in which people focus on and fully experience their immediate sensations rather than being goal-oriented about orgasm (their own, or their partner’s). Letting go of distractions, of judgments, of goals, of anxieties about those goals, and bringing your focus to the immediate sensation of a hand on your thigh, of fingers in your hair, of your own fingers on the curve of their hip… yeah. Hell, yeah. No argument from me. It’s a technique that’s often used for people with performance anxiety, for men with erectile dysfunction or women with problems reaching orgasm — but honestly, this can be a good time for pretty much anyone. And it can be used in masturbation just as well as in partner sex.

Seems pretty simple. Difficult or challenging to practice, perhaps, but the basic idea is pretty straightforward. So how could any of it be complicated, or counterintuitive?

Here’s the thing. For me, anyway. Sex is — how shall I put this? — a multi-media experience. It commonly involves all the senses. Or at least more than one or two. And it involves more than the senses: it involves emotions, memories, images, ideas, associations, psychological connections.

So if I’m working to be fully present with my immediate sexual experience, it begs the question: Which experience? The sensation of my fingers twining in her hair? The sensation of her fingers on my belly? Her scent? The taste of her skin? The sound of her breath? How her curves look in the dim light? The memory of the last time, when we did that other really filthy thing? The warm, spicy glow of deep love blended with skanky lechery? The tightening of my clit? The brightness in her eye as my eye catches hers? When all of this is going on at once — what do I stay present with?

strawberriesOf course, this is true for other experiences as well. Eating is the example that most obviously leaps to mind. Eating isn’t just about flavor: it’s about scent, sensation, sight, even sound. And it’s also about memories, associations, emotions, as well as sensations. And yet mindful eating — eating slowly, finishing each bite before starting the next, staying in the present moment and fully experiencing your food — is a classic mindfulness exercise. It’s almost a chestnut. (Mmmmm — chestnuts!)

Plus, in sex — sex with another person, anyway — I’m not just working to stay present with my own sensations and experiences. I’m working to stay present with my partner’s. (“Working” is maybe the wrong word, that makes it sound like a chore and it’s not in the slightest, but it’s the best I’ve come up with for now.) I’m working to be as richly aware of what’s happening with my own body as I can — and I’m also working to be richly aware of what’s happening with hers. How do I do both of these at once, while still staying focused on one thing at a time?

ultimate guide to sexual fantasy coverAnd how does fantasy play into all this? For many people, accepting and enjoying fantasies is a hugely important part of fully enjoying sex. But isn’t “fantasizing” the exact opposite of being in the present moment? If you’re having sex or masturbating, and you’re imagining that you’re getting spanked by a nun, that you’re having sex in Central Park, that you’re getting a blowjob from George Clooney — isn’t that the exact opposite of fully experiencing whatever sex you’re having right now? Even if the sex you’re having right now is with yourself? But I would never in a zillion years suggest, even to myself, that sexual fantasies are bad for sex, and that in order to more richly and fully experience sex, I should step away from having them. Fuck that noise. I mean, if I were indulging in fantasy at the expense of ever enjoying my body in the here and now, I might see a problem — but I’m not, so I don’t. So how does fantasy fit into all this? How does “enjoying sexual images that drift into one’s head, and deliberately entertaining them and getting off on them” fit in with “staying in the present moment during sex”?

Here’s how I’m working this out for myself. For now, anyway. In MBSR meditation, there’s one technique in which, rather than deliberately focusing your awareness on one object or activity or experience, you let your focus wander. As your awareness drifts from your breath, to your sore back, to the sound of the heater switching on, to your plans for tomorrow, to some fantasy or anxiety about tomorrow, to a grumbling in your belly, to your anxiety about your body shape, to your breath, to some philosophical train of thought about your breath and meditation, to the awareness of your tongue in your mouth… you let it drift. You follow it. And you stay present with all of it, as much as you can. The intent isn’t to keep your awareness focused on one thing. It’s to stay conscious, to stay present, with whatever your awareness wanders into.

When I’m working to be mindful during sex, I do a version of that. I let my focus wander: from sensation to sensation, from image to image, from one part of my body to another (whether I’m having partner sex or masturbating), from my own body to my partner’s (if I’m having partner sex and not masturbating), from the sting of a hand on my ass to assorted mental images I’m having about spankings, and back around again. And with each of these moments and experiences, I work to stay conscious of it, and to stay present with it, and to experience all of it, as fully as I can.

Now, if my awareness drifts into something that isn’t sex — if it starts to drift into anxieties about work, plans to redecorate the house, ideas for the new book I’m working on, some argument I’m having on the Internet — that’s when it’s time to notice that my awareness has wandered, and observe that without judgment, and gently bring my focus back to the present moment. Some piece of the present moment.

Any piece of the present moment will do.

Especially the really skanky ones.

Thoughts? If you’re doing a secular mindfulness practice, how do you incorporate sexuality into it — or incorporate it into sexuality?

Which of My Sex Essays Do You Like Best?

So I’m thinking of putting together a collection of my non-fiction writing about sex. And I wanted to ask my regular readers (and indeed my irregular ones): Which of my essays, reviews, journalism, rantings, and other non-fiction writing about sex do you like best?

Actually, I’ll modify that question, and clarify it. Which of my non-fiction writing about sex (if any) do you think are most important? Which (if any) do you find most memorable? Which are the ones that you remember without having to dip into my archives? Which are the ones that, if you do scan my archives, immediately leap out at you as “Oh, yeah, I remember that one!”

They can be ones that you loved, ones that made you angry, ones that changed your sex life, ones that changed how you view other people’s sex lives, ones you just thought were hilarious. Whatever definition you have of “most important,” “most memorable,” or “best” — I want to know what they are. If you feel like telling me why you’re listing the item or items you’re listing, that’s cool, but it’s not necessary.

I don’t absolutely promise to include your picks. I don’t even necessarily promise to write this book — right now, I’m just pondering it. But if I do write this book, I don’t just want to rely on my own perspective. There may be pieces that I was somewhat “Meh” about but that lots of other people love. If that’s true, I’d like to know. So let me know. Thanks!

Godless Perverts Social Club 1st Anniversary — Tuesday April 1!

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Tuesday, April 1, is the next Godless Perverts Social Club — the casual, hanging-out social arm of the Godless Perverts empire — and we’ll be celebrating our first anniversary! We’ve been hosting Social Clubs since April 2013: I know, hard to believe, right? To mark this momentous occasion, I’ll be bringing a big sack of atheist books, dirty books, and porn DVDs to give away, from my own years as a reviewer. And we might even bring silly party hats.

Join us every first Tuesday of every month at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house, for an evening of conversation and socializing. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us on the first Tuesday of every month for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

Wicked Grounds is at 289 8th Street in San Francisco, just three blocks from the Civic Center BART station. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, or make a donation to the venue. Wicked Grounds has yummy food and drink options ranging from full dinners to coffee and tea, with lots of snacks and baked goods and other light nosh in between, and some of the best milkshakes in the city. We’ll be there from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. RSVP on the Bay Area Atheists/Agnostics/Humanists/Freethinkers/Skeptics Meetup page, if you want a reminder or just like RSVP-ing to things. Hope to see you there!