If you're looking to put a bit more wow into your sex life, put down the Kama Sutra and download a mindfulness app instead.
Mindfulness, the tool that helps us ease stress, lose weight and improve sleep, is now being used to create benefits in the bedroom. And, I'm not talking about clean sheets and plumped up pillows.
It seems that being in the moment can improve our love lives -- a little bit of 'om' can lead to a whole lot of 'ooh' and 'aah'.
Interested? Give the following a go the next time you're in the mood.
1. Stop the mental chatter
Remember the first flush of lust? The time when you couldn't keep your hands, and other body parts, off each other? When the very sight, feel and taste of your loved one was enough to send you into a lovemaking frenzy? If you're currently in that stage, you can stop reading now. Come back in a year or so when these tips might make more sense.
For those of you in a longer-term relationship it sometimes takes a little while to get in the moment. You need to switch off the constant mental chatter in your head -- "did I remember to sign the kids' permission slips, will the milk last one more day, how am I going to deal with my underperforming staff member?" -- before you get to the "oooh baby" stage.
The trick is to free your mind of thoughts of kids, work and household chores (unless mopping is your secret turn on) and tune in to the present.
As Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe explained in a recent TED Talk, people often assume that meditation is about stopping your thoughts and controlling the mind. Meditation won't stop your thoughts popping up but it will teach you how to let them come and go without getting involved. Picture your thoughts as a cloud drifting away.
Once you can let your thoughts drift away you can turn your focus to the present.
2. Zone in on pleasure
Being in the present moment allows you to zone in on how it feels when your partner is touching you, savour the taste of him or her, and use your senses to really experience the moment.
Sex therapy pioneers Masters and Johnson refer to it as sensate focus. The idea is that when you focus on the sensory experience you allow the nervous system to respond automatically.
Touch can be very powerful. Instead of a perfunctory kiss and cuddle before you get to the main part, really focus on touching and kissing during foreplay.
Explore your partner's body and pay attention to how it feels. When he or she is touching you, zone in on how your body is reacting instead of racing ahead to the next stage.
Like any mindfulness activity, this takes practice. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the moment and tune into your senses. When you're acutely aware of every sensation, the sex really can be sensational.
3. Increase your arousal
Arousal is essential for great sex -- even simply for okay sex -- so anything that heightens our arousal levels is a good thing, right?
According to a Brown University study, women who took a three-month mindfulness meditation course were quicker to react to sexual stimuli than the control group who had no mindfulness training. The group who meditated also reported lower rates of anxiety, self-judgement and depression.
Not only was it good for their sex lives, it also improved their mental health; a win-win solution.
You don't have to go on a meditation retreat to get the benefits. There are plenty of apps around that teach you how to meditate. Set aside 10 minutes a day to practise and you'll soon learn some techniques for being mindful.
Once you know these techniques you can bed-test them the next time you're in the mood to see if getting all zen puts more zest into your love life.
You might find that the secret to mind-blowing sex is simply to clear your mind. It's definitely worth a try.
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