Ever thought about how your sensuality and sexuality are different?
Sensuality and sexuality are often lumped into the same category, but they are two very different qualities with unique capacities that contribute to our well-being in different ways.
Sensual is not always sexual. And sexual is not always sensual.
Sensuality is essentially our ability to feel pleasurable sensation through our senses of touch, scent, taste, sight and sound. Savoring decadent foods, feeling the texture of grass against bare feet, enjoying sensual caresses from a lover. These sensual experiences are pleasurable, but they may or may not be connected to an erotic or sexual turn on.
Sensuality is an incredibly healing force, because it’s the bridge that connects the quadrinity of our selves: mental, emotional, physical, and consciousness. While being in-tune with our sensuality can connect us to our primal sexuality, sensuality opens a powerful gateway to experiencing our raw emotions, access to which allows us to feel deeply connected to ourselves and to others.
Recognizing sensuality as a connection to these powerful parts of ourselves is worthy as a practice, because it’s not only a self-regulating way to release negative ways we try to control that hold us back from joy, but it’s also life affirming by validating the deservingness to feel pleasure fully, not only in our bodies but in our psyches.
Goal-oriented Sexuality Can Block Sensuality
Without the practice of deliberately witnessing sensations in our bodies, we can fall into the habit of using our bodies as utilitarian, goal-oriented machines. Our relationship to our bodies becomes more about achieving our goals (like going to the gym obsessively with the goal of losing weight in order to feel good in our bodies), as opposed to experiencing the pleasure and joy of our bodies, even if we’re doing something mundane.
While sexualty and sensuality both can serve up loads of pleasure and joy in our lives, sexuality is distinct from sensuality because of its physiological link to procreation and life-giving energy. It can connect us to feeling alive and energized in our own skin. Sexuality includes feeling aroused, turned on, horny, and a physical desire for sexual stimulation. However, we can easily be numbed out or disassociated while having sex. In fact, women can have sex without being turned on.
It’s easy to see how we can also experience sex without sensuality.
It’s the same difference between rubbing soap on our bodies to get clean, or rubbing soap on our bodies to luxuriate in the scent and texture of soap gliding over our skin. Similarly, without being focused on our senses, sex lacks more subtle and sublime pleasure, AND it reduces (rather than strengthens) emotional connection.
A person can be tapped into their “sexual energy,” feel their sex drive (which can include erotic fantasy), but they might not be present with their sensuality at all. I’m sure many of us can relate to the experience, at least once in our lives, of sex feeling empty. Have you ever felt like the buttons on your body were being pushed and prodded to get a desired response? This type of body connection aimed at achieving a goal — for example, getting you wet or hard — misses the bliss of sensation from one moment to the next.
When the connection to sensuality is missing in sex (as most porn portrays), the experience of pleasure is limited to a physical-sexual release and bypasses the differently satisfying spiritual and emotional states of ecstasy.
Being connected to our sensuality helps us to feel fulfilled in life, as well as to experience blissful sex.
“It is possible to learn how to reprogram your central nervous systems so that you literally feel more and more with less and less stimulation. You can train your body to become multiorgasmic simply by learning how to relax and ‘wake up’ to more erotic feeling throughout your body.”
— Christiane Northrup, MD, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
How can you reprogram your nervous system with your sensual experiences so you can feel more fulfilled not just by eroticism, but by life?
3 Keys to Practicing Sensual Connection
1. Practice focusing on the sensations you’re experiencing either during sex, self pleasuring, pleasurable movement or any other pleasurable experience.
Notice each sensation without judgment. This will get you out of your head and into your body, so your body can receive the experience. You can train your mind to focus on the moment’s sensations instead of bouncing around to judgments about yourself or what’s happening.
2. Let yourself feel your emotions while breathing deeply during any pleasurable activity, including sex.
So many emotions are held in the pelvis, hips, buttocks and vagina. When stimulating these areas with pleasure, you have the opportunity to release emotional tension and open to receive more pleasure. This frees you to be more authentically connected to your emotional truth and yourself, and allows you to then express your emotions more truthfully either with touch or with words to your lover.
You can practice releasing emotions by engaging in deep connected breathing, while focusing on the part of your body that feels either intense sensation or tense. The best way is to lie down, so your body feels completely supported and close your eyes, so that all of your attention can be focused on the part of your body that feels constricted. When you breathe into the center of that sensation while putting your hand on that part of your body, often emotions will come to the surface. Keep your mind focused on your breath as you allow emotions to bubble to the surface. It helps not to judge these emotions as good or bad, so they have an outlet to be safely released.
3. Give yourself permission to receive more pleasure.
We often limit ourselves to what we think our bodies are capable of, or what we’ve been able to experience in the past, which can easily lead our bodies to physically shut down. A powerful way to keep out of judgment and open the body to more pleasure is to repeat this phrase while keeping your mind focused on physical sensations:
I deserve to receive pleasure.
This gives you permission to focus inwardly and feel worthy of pleasure without it being dependent on any conditions, like pleasing your partner or reaching an orgasm. Most importantly, it invites more relaxation into your body and can often free belief patterns that you may hold unconsciously about not being worthy or deserving of pleasure. Scientific research is proving that the coding in our bodies and psyches is passed on through generations. (For example, mice who were trained to associate the smell of cherry blossoms with mild shock passed their antipathy for cherry blossom to their offspring, who had never encountered the flower. Study by Brian G Dias & Kerry J Ressler published by Nature Neuroscience)
So even if we resolve in our minds that we don’t want to hold back our sexual or sensual expression, if there is fear or other associations with sex that have been passed down in the neuro-programming in our bodies — for example, that sex and pleasure is sinful or shameful — our bodies will shut down from pleasure, unless we consciously invite pleasure in.
By repeating the deliberate affirmation “I deserve to receive pleasure” while connecting to your breath and senses, you not only reach more potent levels of primal sexual energy, you can be more true to yourself emotionally and have the opportunity to express your sexuality more fully and consciously.
What if your sensual pleasures were so fulfilling that sexual pleasure was just one of the many results that come with being deeply satisfied moment to moment?
To learn more about connecting your sensual pleasure to your sexual and erotic essence, check out: UnLeash Your Sacred Sexy: A Course to Fall In Love with Your Sexual Expression.
© Krista Kujat