Are You In Touch With Your Sensuality? 5 Ways To Connect With Your Sensual Self
Sensuality is an intrinsic part of being human. If you have a body, you are a sensual being. It doesn't matter what your body looks like or is able to do. It doesn't matter what you wear or where you come from. Your sensuality is an essential part of you that helps you connect to yourself and the world around you.
Sensuality, first and foremost, is about connection: connection to our bodies, our emotions, to the things that make us feel good. A lot of us are disconnected from those things. A lot of us are disconnected from ourselves. And we have good reason.
Reclaiming our sensuality.
We live in a world that doesn't encourage us to be connected to ourselves. We are constantly moving, rushing, scrolling, doing. It's difficult to be in our bodies when we're moving so quickly, and as we're going about our day, we often forget that we even have a body. Trauma is also another big factor that keeps us disconnected not just from ourselves but from others.
When we are disconnected from ourselves, we tend to forget to do basic things like breathing, resting, drinking water. We feel cut off from ourselves and the world around us. We also tend to disengage from our emotions. But beyond that, this disconnection inhibits our ability to experience the pleasure and aliveness that is our birthright.
By reclaiming our sensual selves, we're making it a practice to come back into union with ourselves. We're choosing to create spaces in our lives where we can be slow, soft, receptive, and still with ourselves. We're choosing to see our emotions, needs, and pleasure as important. I would also add that prioritizing our sensual selves is an act of resistance in a world that is constantly attempting to dissociate us from our power. Cultivating our sensuality, making it a regular practice in our lives, is truly an act of liberation.
The difference between sensuality and sexuality.
A lot of us have been given the message that sensuality is synonymous with sexuality, that the only way we can experience sensuality is within a sexual context. But sensuality is so much more than that.
The way I like to explain sensuality is that it's about paying attention with your senses. If you have ever taken a bite of a juicy piece of fruit and felt your eyes closing as you savored each succulent bite, if you've felt your body sway to the sound of music without your prompting, if you've ever felt totally connected to the aliveness and pleasure in your body—you have had a sensual experience.
The practice of sensuality is about making those moments happen with intention rather than having them be fleeting or accidental. And once you master the art of sensuality outside of a sexual context, it'll help enhance and deepen the experiences you have within a sexual context.
Sensuality is mindfulness, and it's been one of the greatest tools and teachers for me as I've been on my journey of healing myself.
How to begin connecting to your sensual self.
Here are some questions to help you begin to explore your sensual self. These questions—and over a hundred other prompts and exercises—can be found in my book Sensual Self, which is a guided journal to connect you to your sensuality:
What daily habits tend to disconnect you from your body and senses?
I love this question because it helps to identify the things in our life that are hindering our ability to slow down, tune in, and feel our bodies. Once we have that information, we can begin to create boundaries around these particular things so that we can have more space and time to practice sensuality.
When do you feel most alive in your body? What are you doing during those moments?
When I present this question to a client or a student, they usually name things that have them moving their bodies, arousing their senses, or connecting to themselves in a deep way. Another great question to help you get clear about the things that you can do to bring more awareness and connection to your body, with the encouragement to do more of those things.
How do you want sensuality to feel in your body?
Most of us have been given a specific definition of what sensuality is and looks like when embodied, and often that definition is sexualized and/or for somebody else's gaze or enjoyment. With my work, I'm wanting to take that flattened understanding of sensuality and expand it to mean so much more than titillation and to have folks get to choose what they want sensuality to mean for them and how they want it to feel in their bodies. We've been given so many messages from external sources telling us what and who we should be. But our sensual selves and the expression of them are unique and personal to us. So, how do you want your sensual self to feel?
What things specifically bring you pleasure?
Pleasure is another word that has been flattened to mean one thing: sex. But pleasure isn't just sexual. Pleasure is simply about doing something on purpose to make ourselves feel good. Sensuality and pleasure go hand in hand, and I would say that we can't fully be in our pleasure if we aren't fully in our sensual selves.
I love this question because it gets us to start thinking about the things that make us feel good. A tip: Don't focus too much on grand gestures of pleasure. See if you can tune into smaller, simpler acts that make you feel good and also notice what "feeling good" actually feels like in your body.
An alternate practice: Make it a daily practice to list five small things that made you feel good that day.
Start each morning with a quick senses check-in.
This is a practice that can help us slow down and come into the present moment. It's also a great way to ground back into our bodies if we're feeling dissociative. For this practice, you'll take a breath and name three things that you are experiencing in the moment through each of your senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling). You'll also name three emotions you're experiencing in the moment and at least one thing in the moment that is making you feel good, even if it's the tiniest bit.
This is a great practice to do in the mornings before you start your day to get connected to your body, but it's also great to do throughout the day, particularly if you're running around and experiencing a lot of busyness. That's when we need reconnection the most.
Ev’Yan Whitney is a Sexuality doula®, sex educator, and sensualist. Their work focuses on decolonizing, unshaming, and liberating sexuality at the intersection of identity, pleasure, and embodiment. Ev'Yan is the author of Sensual Self, a self-guided journal that will help you come home to yourself through your senses. They also host a podcast of the same name.