When many hear the word “sensual,” they immediately think of sex. (It probably doesn’t help that a lot of romance novels and movies use “sensual” in their titles and advertising.)
While sensual can be used in a sexual context, one of the definitions of sensual means “relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses.” In other words, being a sensual man or woman means being aware and satisfying the main senses which include touch, smell, taste and hearing. Getting in touch with these senses can help one gain a better awareness of themselves and others—especially their romantic partners.
So, here are some ways to access that sensual side of you that may not always be switched on.
1. Touch: collect a variety of objects with different textures.
You probably already have a lot of these things around the house or in your yard, but see if you can gather a variety of small objects and include things like a rock or a seashell, a silky scarf or tie, a fuzzy fruit like a kiwi or peach, and a wool sweater. Spend a good three to four minutes handling them and touching their surfaces. Devote at least a minute touching them with your eyes closed. What do you notice about the different textures? How are they similar and how are they different?
Next, spend some time touching your skin or your partner’s if they happen to be around and want to volunteer. Try not to aim for sexual arousal, rather, take the time to notice the different textures of skin and hair. If you are touching someone else’s skin, ask yourself: could you identify them through touch alone? Are there certain textures you like to touch more than others like the hair on their head vs. the hair on their arms? Are there some you do not care for at all?
It may be helpful to jot these observations down on paper.
2. Smell: Take time to sniff the roses and other things that are around you.
Studies have shown that smell is linked strongly to memory. For instance, the scent of Heaven Scent body powder always brings back memories of my grandmother, who wore it religiously. Smell can also be one of those things we take for granted or don’t notice is going until it is gone. (As we age, we tend to lose our sense of smell.)
A great way to get in touch with your sense of smell is to take some common household items and smell them. Everyone is familiar with the scent of lemon and vanilla extract, but have you ever stopped to smell celery? What about the scent of green tea or even a dollar bill? (There really is a such a thing as the smell of money.) A useful tip: sniff coffee beans or grounds in between each item to clear the nose so the scents don’t overlap.
If your partner is around and willing to play along, try to smell him or her preferably sans perfume or cologne. Most people have a natural scent, and some even find the smell of sweat on a clean body to be a turn on.
Like the previous exercise, also note the smells you do not like. Is there a reason why? i.e., Most people universally hate some smells like the smell of decay, but does, say, the scent of pine-scented floor cleaner drive you nuts because it reminds you of Aunt Mary’s house whom you hated to visit as a kid? Again, take some notes.
3. Sight: treat your eyes to a visual feast.
Most people are already aware that men are more visually stimulated than women. This doesn’t have to apply to just sexy or erotic images. Even looking at pictures of a sporting event can cause excitement and increased heart rate.
However, women get pleasure from looking, too.
A fun exercise is to gather images-digital, printed, etc.-and see what you attracts you and want repels you. For instance, are you drawn to color or do too many colors overwhelm your senses and make it hard for you to focus? If you are viewing erotic images, what exactly are the things you zero in on? In order to fully give your eyes a complete treat, try looking at some abstract images as well.
4. Taste: sample a variety of familiar and new foods.
If you’ve ever seen 9 1/2 Weeks, you’re probably familiar with the scene where Mickey Rourke blindfolds Kim Basinger and feeds her a variety of different foods including cherries and hot peppers. Many (myself included) think it’s a pretty erotic scene to recreate with a partner.
However, even if you live alone and/or are single, it’s a great way to get in touch with your sense of taste. You don’t have to be blindfolded. Just close your eyes and sample a variety of different things ranging from sweet, to sour, to bitter, to salty. If you like, try to incorporate your other senses as well. What does each food look like? What does it feel like? What does it smell like?
Experiment with some things you never have tasted before. For example, try seaweed if you have never had it before. How it is different from most vegetables? Even experimenting with different varieties of fruit can be fun. (i.e., Try white peaches if you have never had them before or if you usually eat granny smith apples, buy a fuji apple.) Be adventurous! Worst case scenario is that you try something you don’t like. It’s actually just as important to know what you don’t like vs. what you do.
5. Hearing: become attuned to all the sounds that surround you.
Don’t skip this one because you think you already have it down pat. Most of us know what sort of music we like and many listen to wide range of things every day from songs, to television shows, to conversations, etc. However, have you ever listened to the things around you minus human voices or electronic noise of any sort?
If possible, take a walk in the country at least a mile or so away from any road. Notice the sound of birds overhead, the sound of the feet walking on gravel, and the wind as it blows through the branches of the trees. Even if you live in a city, you can usually find a park and observe nature for a few minutes or so.
Then, the next time you are listening to your partner or a friend, observe not just the sound of their voice, but their breathing patterns and the sound of their fingers as they lightly tap a surface.
In closing, using these five senses to learn more and appreciate the things around you can have a positive effect on all aspects of your life. On a romantic/personal level, they may help you get to know your partner even more than you ever thought you could.
As human beings, we are very lucky to have access to these five senses. Therefore, make the most of them and remember to allow yourself to have some fun with them.
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Ed: Sara Crolick