What is “sensuality”? Is sensuality the same as sexuality, and is it all about sex?
No, not at all.
“Sensuality” refers to the physical, explicitly pursuing, expressing, and enjoying physical pleasure. Pleasure is of the senses — hence, “sensual.”
“Sensual” can also mean “sexual,” but I’m talking about being sensual as living life in your body: Deeply, richly, and lavishly.
Physical pleasure is experienced in our body, including via the senses: Smell, taste, hearing, sight, and touch. Through our senses, we experience the world in its rich variety.
With all this richness, how come we get to adulthood bored, jaded, turned-off, or disappointed with how life is going?
It’s the division between body and mind. Yet, it’s possible to get your body back and, with it, your sense of excitement, anticipation, and wonder!
Let’s look at how we lost it to begin.
Take a typical kindergarten class. Ask the children, “Who can sing?” All of them raise their hands. Ask a fifth-grade class, and maybe half will raise their hands. By seventh grade, only a few still feel free and confident enough to raise theirs.
As you grew, you became “educated.” Somebody probably told you to pay attention to words in a book rather than your body sensations. Intellectual learning drowned out your natural body intelligence. You grew book-smart but less connected to your body and all the fun you can have with it.
Body awareness (the senses housed in the eyes, ears, skin, tongue, and nostrils) is sensual and emotional. The more we rely on intellect, the more we disconnect from emotional intelligence. Our ability to connect deeply with ourselves, our bodies, our senses, and our sensuality suffers.
Children are fully alive and in their senses. You see their constant curiosity and uninhibited interplay with the world. Watch a youngster gazing at a flower, following the buzz of a bumblebee, petting a dog’s soft fur, licking an ice cream cone, or sniffing chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. These interactions are examples of a person in tune with their senses.
You desire this engagement, intimacy, and closeness. You want to be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted by another. Yet, the longer we live with someone, the more familiar and less inquisitive we become. We “know” our partners — likely intellectually rather than vividly, viscerally, and sensually.
Often, our close relationships lack the intimate, satisfying feelings we desire.
You may have heard a blind person’s sense of hearing is keener than that of a sighted person, and that a deaf person feels more through their body and feet than a hearing person. When one sense weakens, the other senses sharpen.
Desire to awaken your senses? Play a game.
Put on a blindfold for one hour with a close friend or partner. What happens inside you? Take a cold shower instead of a hot one. How does your body feel? Listen to a song and strain your ears to catch every word. Pay attention to your senses for the rest of the day.
Dozens of exercises exist to tune into your senses. Gardening with hands in the dirt and visiting a splendid natural wonder can help you tune in. A slow, deliberate massage can awaken your touch sense.
The sensual is not to be feared. It is a feeling you should not miss in life. You were born with it, which makes life worth living. If you’re already moving toward a life of heightened awareness, start tracking with your senses by test-driving these games.
I suggest the excellent Come to Your Senses: Demystifying the Mind-Body Connection, by Stanley Block and Carolyn Bryant Block.
You benefit when you re-engage with the world in curiosity, wonder, and enthusiasm.
I invite you to experience awakening the senses in a community through my workshops, or to join me for an in-person retreat in Houston. Reach me at email@example.com for more information, or with questions, comments, and curiosities.