One of the things people do not know or see in this online world is the depth of our human existence and the experiences we have.
All we see are our thoughts, perspective, shame being spoken in judgment, fear, wishing, and longing for what we hope for through another.
I remember being on a fence in a tiny alley in Lake Como with cars and people going by. Michelle said to me, “Just be a statue, nobody will notice.” We both laughed. And so I did; I was a statue of pure joy in that moment—with a new friend of a lifetime and beautiful human @michelle_yogogirls.
This shoot was a gift to me. It allowed me to share an experience with another like-minded soul and fall even more in love with who I am, secure in the knowledge I am not alone in this world with my thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. I am walking with others who feel similarly.
We are all sensual beings.
Sensuality is a way of engaging in pleasure, which may include being in nature, listening to music, wearing perfume, eating chocolate, enjoying delicious meals, getting massages, nurturing one’s body with body lotion, dancing, reading, dressing beautifully, hugging, and more. Sensuality enriches life, the soul, body, and mind. To live sensually is to live the depths of life.
For me, sensuality has always been about healing, so I can live a more present life, be less of my past, and more of my future.
In my past, I remember hands choking me and not being able to breathe, being thrown across someone’s shoulder and slammed onto the floor, and listening to words telling me I’m not enough, a bitch since birth, stupid, and worse. These experiences caused me to not only feel a lack of self-worth and suffer with anxiety and depression, but I also lost my ability to enjoy my senses, even simple experiences like enjoying food.
I love slightly green apricots and raspberries—they have a little bite to them that tickles my mouth and makes me smile. I also love homemade bread—warm, comforting, and delightfully filling. It makes my soul peaceful and content knowing the love that has gone into baking it.
Sounds resonate for me too. I love sitting at a train station hearing people’s shoes click as they walk—it brings me back to here and now. It also makes me feel more. I always wonder whether they’re in a rush, dancing with the moment, are feeling peaceful or melancholy.
Music is another one, but the songs always change for me. When I listen to love songs they remind me to speak to myself as a lover. For me, love songs have never been about wanting to receive love from others—they are about bringing me home in my own love and feelings.
During one period of my life, I could not listen to words of love as I was too scared to let love in again after the trauma. Sometimes pain becomes comfort and love is discomfort. It has taken courage for me to find love within and believe I deserved it again. Listening to songs of love helped me to return to self-love.
My favourite texture to feel is my long hair on my back. It makes me marvel at being human and how we can bring ourselves joy through simple things such as touch. I also love freshly washed sheets and being wrapped tightly, “snug as a bug in a rug,” where I feel safe and loved.
Touch is of central importance because it influences our brain development, provides a feeling for one’s own body, and serves as a stress regulator. As humans, we long for that feeling of being held and the intimacy that human touch has.
Touch and trauma have a powerful link. When a trauma victim is in a state of pain and they’re unable to regulate their emotions, touch can help give them relief that they cannot get through words, which they are currently unable to comprehend. More often than not, rough touch can produce a counter effect, so people benefit from gentle physical interaction that will help soothe emotional tension. They need to feel that gentle physical connection somewhere where they feel it’s currently safe.
When suffering as a result of trauma, we’re often too alert to permit anyone coming close physically, when in reality our subconscious wants to feel that closeness. My daughter has taught me to trust touch and connection with others, and I am learning to lean into a touch more thanks to being a mum. After my physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, I am now learning that human touch is safe.
Smells are powerful enough to reinvigorate old memories in a way that doctors can use them to treat memory-related mood disorders. Memories are at the basis of who we are, and the nature of memory is one of the biggest mysteries of neuroscience. How the brain processes and consolidates memories is the subject of work around the globe. It is now known that odor can shift memories to become more hippocampus-dependent, which in turn could potentially help us to develop strategies that engage or disengage the hippocampus. The goal is to permanently suppress a fear memory for those suffering.
The smell that has brought me peace since my daughter was a baby is the top of her head. It brings connection and a reminder to the present that all that I love is right here. Other smells that float my boat are the smell of freshly washed clothes as I walk in the street—it reminds me of a mother’s love. The smells of toothpaste and beer together reminds me of letting go and still showing up—remembering life is about having fun but also showing up as well, not perfection. Lastly, sunscreen. It reminds me of my dad surfing as a kid, the Aussie summers, how the freckles danced across my mom’s smiling face, and how although the sun is gifting, it is also a powerful part of life that must be respected, for I’ve known so many who have suffered through cancer.
Sensuality is so much more than sexuality. In fact, sensuality is there when we are born, long before sexuality becomes a part of our world in our own way. A mother feels her developing baby’s heartbeat, and an infant smells their parents to identify them. Sexuality is then enhanced by sensuality’s gift and stays long after we may no longer have physical intimacy with others. The memories of songs danced can bring Alzheimer patients to remember their ballet moves but not the details of their life.
Sensuality is a gift that is tough to experience unapologetically in this climate—when our world is impacted by our traumas, shame, and the judgment surrounding it. Sensuality has also been tough with COVID-19.
If we each make an effort every day to journal and share what we’re hearing, smelling, seeing, and tasting, it can provide a window of opportunity to get in touch with our senses and to understand which ones we need to tap into more readily. Being aware of our environment involves bringing awareness to all of our senses, which is the root of true sensuality—and sensuality within ourselves and others can be healing.