How to live a sensual life, 101.
A friend of mine, a musician, complained the other day about the noise of natural surroundings. She said the birds were too loud today.
Often, her noise-canceling headphones and quirky mix of indie and hip-hop music obscure the sounds of birds, traffic and city life.
At first this struck me as a terrible thing to say, and yet I too often feel more comfortable walking around with a set of headphones creating my own private soundtrack. It made me wonder, am I missing out on some important experiences by shutting myself off from these sounds? And is it just the sense of sound I am blocking out (or rather, trying to control); are there other senses that I am failing to fully connect with?
That’s when it hit me; my life was lacking connection with the tastes, smells and sounds that connect us with the world around us. I was failing to live a life that was sensual and thus a life that was fulfilled.
Sensuality is often seen as synonymous with sexuality. Sensual evokes the erotic and passionate. Yet sensuality, in its most basic form, is really an appreciation of the senses; absorbing oneself in the smells, the tastes and the tactile qualities of our surroundings. Sensuality, really, is synonymous with mindfulness, living life to the fullest.
How often do I eat a meal without tasting it? How often do I look in the fridge for something and stare right at it—yet not see it? How often do I listen to the radio and realize I haven’t heard any of the songs played.
I am on a journey, so come with me if you will, learning how to be sensual. Being sensual is about eating food, and feeling the texture in my mouth, the flavours rolling across the taste-buds. It’s about stopping to smell a fragrant frangipani that has fallen off a tree and placing it delicately behind my ear. It’s about feeling my body snuggled up against that of a loved one on a cold and wintry night. It’s hard, in this crazy, fast-food, always connected, coffee to-go lifestyle that we all lead today.
I have been trying to learn the art of sensuality.
Before falling asleep at night, I’ve been trying to add up at least five times when I appreciated one of my five senses. On some days when it’s non-stop crazy work, family and commitments from opening my eyes to the blaring of the alarm, to falling into bed, I have failed to even count one.
Yet on other days, I have been able to hit my target and counted the requisite five moments of sensuality, peppering my day, seasoning it with flavour and colour.
I remember noticing the breeze softly caressing my cheek, while waiting at the lights to cross the road, on an afternoon jog. I remember noticing the smell of a fragrant rosemary bush as I picked herbs from the garden. I remember noticing the sounds of the children squealing with delight at lunchtime while I sat at my desk working. This is a sound I usually try to shut out, and yet when I listened, I found it lifted my spirits indescribably. Sensuality is about feeling life, living it the way we were meant to, noticing life the only way we know how.
Yet it does take practice to make it work. That’s what I am practicing. Every single day.
Come, practice with me.
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