How sensuous are you?
How do you feel about your sensuousness?
Would you like to be more sensuous?
Your sensuousness is essential to who you are. You have an animal body which is primal, with hungers and needs. It feasts through your senses.
The mind-body split
Finding time and ways to connect with your sensuousness in your fast and full life can be challenging. Deadlines, daily pressures, and technology can separate you from your sensuous life.
You may want to be more sensuous. You may want to increase your desire and capacity for pleasure. You may have body inhibitions, addictions, or trauma which don’t let you be as sensuous as you’d like to be.
Chances are, you don’t live close to the land as did your agricultural, pagan ancestors. Rubbing shoulders and hips with animals and nature, their bodies were more free and open to shakti, life energy. The Earth’s fertility, vitality, and abundance was their work and play. But centuries of patriarchal religions, Cartesian thinking, and an increasingly mechanized world have created a mind-body split.
When your mind and body are divided, you:
- look for happiness and fulfillment in things outside yourself. But happiness doesn't lie in what's external; it lies in your experience of them. And that includes your sensory experience.
- objectify or minimize the importance of your body. When you block, repress, or shame shakti, life energy, you’re less sensuous and embodied, which can cause physical and mental disease.
- lose out on the pleasure, wild innocence, and wisdom of your animal body.
Come into your animal body
One way to heal the mind-body split is to come into your animal body. Your senses. And your sensuousness.
The more sensuous you are, the more alive you are. You feel good. You have more capacity for pleasure, desire, body-bliss, and ecstasy. Your life energy, shakti, flows free, clear, and vital. On top of feeling good, being sensuous is actually beneficial for your health.
Sensuousness is the language of your animal body. Free, wild, and instinctual, it has its own wisdom. It’s a simple language: what feels good, alive, and pleasurable? What doesn’t?
Your sensuousness is unique to you. You’re sensuous in your aesthetic taste, whether you’re decorating your home, choosing the colors you wear, or the fragrances you enjoy. As well as the music, poetry, architecture, or sculpture, or art that please and captivate you.You only have to letthe soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Sensuousness always feels good. It’s only judgements and beliefs that condemn it.
Although sensuousness is often associated with sexuality, you can be very sensuous without being sexual. It’s a practice and capacity that you can develop.
How to become more sensuous
1. Be aware
Your awareness is everything. Just as your eyes see the world, so your awareness ‘sees’ your experience. Use your awareness as a flashlight or laser to direct and focus on what you want to sense.
The more you develop your awareness, the more rich, nuanced, and textured is your sensory experience. One way to increase pleasure is to increase your awareness of pleasure.
2. Slow down
Your animal body has a different time pulse than your lightning mind. Slow down, tune into your body and sensations, and bring your awareness to each one of your senses.
What do you see? Hear? Smell? Touch? Taste?
Notice how your pulse changes. How your breathing lengthens and deepens. How your body relaxes.
3. Give yourself permission
Getting out of your mind and into your body is part of the journey. The mind-body split has you riddled with no’s, shouldn’ts, and must nots.
Allow yourself to really touch, know, and relish your sensation. Satiate your animal body’s greed and hunger. If or when you stop, get curious about why not. When you come up against an “I shouldn’t,” or “It’s not okay,” ask yourself, “why not?”
If your sensations seem overwhelming or too intense, you might consider seeing a therapist.
4. Enter your sensations
When you enter your sensations, you go deeper than feeling them. You can feel an ache, a tug, or a clutch in your body and stay on its surface.
When you enter your sensation, you actually merge and tunnel into it. You become one with it and surrender to its flow. You’re carried by its stream of energy. You’re surfing its wave.
You surrender yourself to your sensation.
5. Be curious about how you sense
You meet each moment wherever you are. And with whatever you’re carrying. Which is why when someone touches you when you’re distracted, you barely notice it. Yet when you’re present, you drink in the full sensation of the same warm and caring touch.
How do you meet each sensory moment? What emotions come up? Are you open? Curious? Reverent? Ashamed? Fearful? In awe? Trusting? Closed? Afraid? Adventurous?
How are you meeting this moment? And this? And this? And the next…?
6. Take up an art form
Engage with an art, aesthetic, or embodied practice. Yoga, music, sculpture, flower arranging, woodworking, or making chocolate are some ways in which to immerse yourself in your senses.
Sensuousness is a practice and self-discovery. You may find the more you practice, the more you discover sensation. Some mantras with which to cultivate your sensuousness are:
- What am I sensing?
- What emotions or thoughts come up about what I’m sensing?
- What gets in the way of my staying with this sensation?
Or you may come up with mantras of your own which keep you sensuous.
Models of sensuousness
I look to yakshis, Indian nature spirits, for their voluptuous sensuousness. Reveling in Earth’s playground, they’re seen entwined or merging with playful abandon into a tree, snake, or vine.
They’re a beautiful metaphor of how your animal body is intimately and inseparably connected to the Earth. They model a luscious sensuousness with all its delight and innocence and without shame or inhibition.
They show the sheer pleasure of just feeling good.
And that’s sacred.
What are some other ways you stay sensuous? I’d love for you to share them here.