Sen·su·al·i·ty: the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical, especially sexual, pleasure.
Can y’all smell the roses from the sensual season we’re living in? The fact that the “soft life” is a whole movement is a new awakening to a generation that has access to healing and sensuality like no other! I’m in awe and appreciation that individuals across the globe are allowing themselves to step into what has often been perceived as feminine energy and making it their own self-soothing daily practice.
As I was researching this subject matter, I noticed the word “sensuality” is often misunderstood as being something amplified sexually via romantic bonds and not as much individually, which does more of a disservice to us than helps us. The more attuned you are to yourself in solitude, the better you are to have that sensual pleasure amplified with another person in any capacity.
Sensuality is something we should challenge ourselves to do every day, being mindful of the sounds around us, examining our thought processes and feelings, and discovering sensuality in a physical manner alone in different ways.
Here are expert tips on how to be more sensual in your every day life:
1. Practice mindfulness by really tuning into your five major senses.
According to licensed mental health counselor and co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes, Richard M. Siegel, Ph.D., "'sensual' simply means ‘of the senses’-- sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch.” And because we live in such a fast-paced world, constantly multitasking, barely focusing on one thing at a time, it’s very easy to lose a sense of all the things we’re seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, and hearing because we’re always on the go. Exploring our sensuality daily means constantly challenging yourself to be curious about anything and everything you come across.
Mental health/drug and alcohol therapist Joella Smith states, “I always suggest my clients take at least five minutes when you wake up to use your senses (listening to the birds outside, stretching/rubbing body aches, watching the sunrise, etc.). The goal, just like mindfulness, is to find pleasure in being in the moment by using all your senses. Being kind to oneself, loving our bodies, and practicing self-love daily will make us all more sensual people.”
Being in tune with our sensual selves has everything to do with challenging ourselves to be present and fully engaged with everything we do consistently. As they say, "Self-love is the best love." Meditation teacher Kirat Randhawa echoed a similar sentiment, “An element of developing sensuality with self is to practice receiving yourself just as you are - in all of your emotional states - with loving awareness. This receptivity is integral to restoring a sense of wholeness and releasing the fear of what we might encounter if we turn inward. Pleasure is a beautiful way to soften into our hearts and bodies while feeling resourced and supported to navigate anything that may arise.”
2. Engage in sensuality through meditation.
There is nothing like a little one-on-one time with yourself, where you can go to a safe place and release it all through stillness. “Meditation is a practice of becoming deeply familiar with yourself and your moment-to-moment experience with tenderness,” states Randhawa. “What is more sensual than befriending the self with such openness? When we practice this awareness in meditation in relation to how we receive the breath and the different sensations and thoughts and practice softening into those experiences irrespective of our expectations, we cultivate an opening of the mind. This is key to identifying the different aspects of ourselves and rest there with more ease. It allows for a balanced indulgence.”
"Meditation is a practice of becoming deeply familiar with yourself and your moment-to-moment experience with tenderness. What is more sensual than befriending the self with such openness?"
Also, for anyone that has a rough time with mediation because they feel like they can’t pause their mind, I highly suggest using the Calm or Liberate app that provides guided meditation to help zero in on tuning out your thoughts and following the background noise (examples is like the sound of waves or rain drops) all while actively listening to the instructor's voice. If you find stillness difficult, even with guided meditation, trying out movement meditation could be more helpful.
3. Be more sensual through breathing techniques.
Breathwork is a skill set we should all learn because it’s an amazing self-soothing tactic that helps regulate our physical and emotional well-being. There are several different types of breathwork techniques; Randhawa recommended “the five-count box breathing technique to simply restore clarity in the mind and presence with the body -- you inhale for five, pause for five, exhale for five, and pause for five...and continue this for a few minutes. It allows one to experience a more spacious feel of the moment and awaken to the beauty that is here right now.”
4. Deepen your journey to your feelings and senses through writing.
It’s our words that paint every scenario we envision or go through, and it’s our words that help us dive into understanding our feelings more. Exploring your feelings on paper or even in your notes section on your phone can aid in profoundly exploring sensuality. Writing and creative expression coach Nkem Chukwumerije states, “In order to get to a place where we are writing from a place of freedom, and true connection to our inner worlds and outer surroundings, we must have a connection with our sensual selves. This means, for instance, when writing a scene depicting the breeze in the air, as readers, we want to know what kind of breeze that is and how it feels to feel that breeze. So, as a writer, we must relax our minds, wander outside into the breezy early afternoon, and sit in the center of a near-empty park, allowing the breeze to stroke our skin. We must feel each molecule of air as it dances with our face, arms, body and begins to articulate just how this feeling touches us.”
Reading has been my favorite hobby since I was a little girl, and I’ve always noticed the best stories are depicted through minuscule detail to make you feel like you were there. Coming home to your sensuality is paying attention to the details surrounding you in slow motion. “After we feel, we can conjure up words to articulate that feeling and translate it onto the page where readers will not only read about the breeze but feel the same breeze we felt because we took the opportunity to be present with our embodied senses and write from that magical place."
She adds, "I often use the phrase 'experiment, explore, and allow' when it comes to writing because when we desire to express ourselves, I believe it must start from a place of pure possibility, freedom, and flow, and what better way to access what is and what can be than through our senses?”
5. Indulge in your sensual self through dancing.
There are so many ways to come home to self, and dancing is a cure in its lane. When I’m in a funk, I turn on some of my favorite tracks and dance in my mirror and speak to my insecurities and make jokes about them, as Issa did in Insecure. It sounds lame, but it’s so soothing to have fun in emotional turmoil; we’re the most adaptive mammals on this planet, but change isn’t always easy to walk through, so it’s best to find a way that works for you to come home to yourself.
“Coupling somatic practices – such as yoga, qi gong, dance, EFT/tapping – with remembering the narratives about our bodies or intentional emotional feeling can be extremely powerful in healing both emotional blockages, and ailments/dis-ease in the body," states Chukwumerije. "When we practice becoming present in our bodies and aligning our emotional experience to our embodied experience, we can access more and more of our sensuality. Life is then never the same.”
6. Explore your sensuality further through sexual self-pleasure.
I know before reading this article, most people associated the word “sensual” with "sexuality," but I hope that after indulging in all this new information, you have a better understanding of exploring your sensuality in a multifaceted way. Smith echoes a similar sentiment, “I believe too much of the discussion about sensuality revolves around sex rather than the pleasure we actually feel from what we experience from sex. Sex, however, almost always involves some level of sensuality. But one can experience and become sensual in numerous other activities that may give us that same level of pleasure. For instance, 'having an orgasm in our mouth' (when something tastes good) may do the same for our endorphins and overall sensuality as having an actual orgasm (sex).”
And though I didn’t want to put sexual sensuality at the top of this article, I did want to highlight that sexual exploration with self is one of the highest forms of fulfillment you can experience sensually. Randhawa states, “I believe that sensuality originates from within, stemming from our relationship with ourselves. And when we can be present, open, and nurturing towards the self, we can extend that to others. Sensuality is a state of pure openness and receptivity, and offering this to ourselves can help us share it with others, and experiencing it with others can help us strengthen this connection even more with ourselves in turn.”
"Sensuality originates from within, stemming from our relationship with ourselves. And when we can be present, open, and nurturing towards the self, we can extend that to others."
And I could share my own testimony reflecting on her words; for years, I used to be very irritated with sexually pleasing myself because of emotional turmoil I didn’t know how to work through at the time and shame around current fantasies I’d have. But I’ve challenged myself to talk it through in therapy and with close friends, and I never felt so liberated and excited to explore myself sexually, with toys and all. And it’s made sexual intimacy with another person heightened because I finally have so much autonomy of myself sexually.
Women are such fascinating and unique beings when it comes to sexual exploration, and I highly encourage watching the docuseries,The Principles of Pleasure, which is all about exploring female sexuality, and watching Sex, Love, and Goop which gave amazing tips on exploring sensuality through partnership.
7. Let go of your negative thoughts and discover your truth as a sensual being.
It took such a long time for me to accept that I’m a highly sensitive individual and that nothing is wrong with that. I was often gaslit as a child, which is one of the major reasons I often overthink my thoughts and feelings because I feel like they aren’t valid. It wasn’t until getting myself into therapy that I was actively ready and willing to deal with this super-soft part of myself. And taking that approach has been a game-changer because I’m better equipped to work through my emotional turmoil and support others with their issues instead of repeating the same cycle because I didn’t know myself at such depths.
Smith mentions, ”It’s all about how we feel in our bodies, so feeling at the maximum level helps. This is often tough, though, as some of us battle intrusive thoughts and avoidance patterns that prevent us from truly 'feeling.' Letting go of the negative thoughts, appreciating every day, getting out of our head, and emotionally being in tune with what’s going on will help others explore personal sensuality.”
All in all, exploring sensuality on a daily basis should be something we actively try to fit into our schedules in some form or another because no one can soothe us like we can soothe ourselves. No one can feel all that we are going through like we can, so take a deeper dive with self-exploration; your mind, body, and spirit deserve it.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images