Sensuality is rooted in the ability to be immersed in our senses.  To be sensual is to feel deeply with the body, to be responsive to sensation, and most of all to be completely present in the moment of feeling. Sensuality can overlap with sexuality, but it is distinct: we can engage in sex without being fully present, and we can experience sensory pleasure outside of sex.  Cultivating a sensual practice increases our enjoyment of the bodily experience and builds tolerance for discomfort, allowing us to bring sensuality into other aspects of daily living. (More info on Connected Sex)

What You Need To Know

The nervous system is the primary venue of sensation, connecting our minds and bodies.  If we view the nervous system as part of the energy body, it has the capacity to build, transfer, or discharge energy.  Often when we experience stress or anxiety we feel an uncomfortable increase in sensation that we manage by trying to suppress or ignore our physical bodies, or we focus on regulating the nervous system before fully understanding what our bodies are telling us.  This elevates the mind over the body.  All sensation has meaning, and when we learn to remain present even as we experience stress, we start to collaborate with this energy rather than managing it. 

For those interested in self development, you can’t overthink your way or over analyze your way out of change, heartbreak or self-improvement. After a certain point of education and training, you have to let your body take over and process, heal and endure the emotions it needs to go through. The body does indeed keep the score

Sensual practice teaches us how to actively listen to the language of the body and respond.  When we are detached from sensation, our bodies need to speak louder to get our attention— the energy of the nervous system continues to build until we listen.  Through presence, we receive the message and can respond before becoming overwhelmed.  

One exercise that works well in sensual practices or even processing emotions is to name the feeling you experience out loud as well as where in your body it is showing up. Ex: I feel a tightness in my chest, I feel a sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach. By naming and crediting the sensations and emotions of your body, you can process and heal quicker. 

The Role of Massages in Sensuality  

There is no single approach that will meet every need, and everybody, but one of the most potent exercises to cultivate sensuality and increase your mind-body connection is a self-massage.

When you engage in self-massage you are activating the mind and body simultaneously, leaning into pleasure and responding to discomfort.  You can practice with direct skin contact or over your clothes.  Begin with a light touch, and gradually increase the pressure, noticing the level of pressure that feels good.  Move your hands, fingers, or forearms across the surface of your skin in short movements and longer movements.  Experiment with different types of movement and notice how you feel.  Bring your awareness to your breath, and the sensation of your heart at the center of your chest.  How does your body respond to different types of touch?  How can you respond to pleasure and discomfort?  Keep track of your observations in a journal.

Try bringing this awareness to the experience of taking a walk, or drinking a warm beverage.  Notice how being present in your body impacts how you relate to other people and the environment.  With practice, our experience of sensuality improves our overall mind-body connection, allowing us to be more present in all aspects of our lives.

Written By: Mikella Millen, an Energyworker/Trancework practitioner, and Licensed Art Psychotherapist.

Looking to include more sensuality into the bedroom? Check out In Tune, our card game for couples, by Therapists.