The five senses aren’t just for kids any more – remember how much fun that was in elementary school? Learning about touch, sight, smell, taste, sound? You got to eat raisins, right there in class! Well, it’s even better now. Adults use another word that encompasses the senses: sensuality.
Here’s a definition to get you started (Merriam Webster):
1 a : of or relating to the senses or sensible objects
b : producing or characterized by gratification of the senses : having strong sensory appeal (sensuous pleasure)
2 : characterized by sense impressions or imagery aimed at the senses (sensuous verse)
3 : highly susceptible to influence through the senses
Sensual stimulus is our connection with our entire world. Most everything we know, feel, understand, and struggle with comes through our senses, including pain and pleasure. Starting to get it? Sure, you learned about the senses when you were young, but how often do you actually pay attention to them?
And, if we’re taking in all those sensory signals anyway, why not allow ourselves to really enjoy it?
Try this (after reading, of course): Close your eyes. Sit back or lie down. What do you hear? Notice the little sounds, or even the buzz in the silence. What do you smell? Cleaning supplies…oh, try it again when you go outside. What do you taste? What does the chair feel like against your body? Then, open your eyes, letting the light and color around you spill in. See if you can see the color before you actually know what it is…
Now, allow yourself to go deeper into the experience. Do it now, or wait until you can try it somewhere else. Close your eyes again. Imagine sinking into that chair, that bench, that patch of grass you found, as if your body becomes fused with it. Bring your attention back to the sounds, tastes, smells and let them fuse into your body as well. Experience them as things that can be felt and examined in a sensory way – as if they can be picked up, turned over, observed. What color are they? What texture? Pick the most interesting ones and examine them through each of your senses again – what color and texture is that dog’s bark? What do those clouds smell like? Taste like? Then, when you open your eyes, let the world flood you again, as if the colors and shapes are coming into you rather than you going out to see them.
(If you’ve seen Fantasia, it’s a bit like that. Letting the sounds become colors and motion and images that carry you deeper into the experience.)
If you have extra time to play with this, take it, but this little adventure doesn’t need to take long. Remember, all of this sensory input is already happening – you are just taking a moment to notice, and process, more consciously. Slowing it down, just a smidge. Paying attention.
Then try it again the next time you eat, especially with that first slow bite (not as much fun if you don’t like the food, but still, you can). Try it when you wake up in the morning, opening your eyes and letting the shapes and colors blearily in, without trying to figure out where you are or what they are. And especially try it the next time you make love, one of the most sensual – and ecstatic – experiences of them all.
So, for the rest of month, celebrate your senses. Not just cold, sweet ice cream with a cherry on top, summer afternoon children sounds, and the transition from extreme heat to air-conditioned lobbies but also the muscles and curves of the human form, light kisses on the back of your neck, and the pleasure of your sexual ecstasy.
Special thanks to the Salt Lake City Parenting Examiner for pointing out such a marvelous day (check out her sense games for kids – and don’t be afraid to make up your own). If like the idea of kisses on the back of your neck, you might enjoy this article on lesser known erogenous zones by the Modern Love Examiner. And lastly, be sure to check out the synonyms for sensuous on Merriam Webster, which I’ve included for your reading pleasure below:
- SENSUOUS, SENSUAL, LUXURIOUS, VOLUPTUOUS mean relating to or providing pleasure through gratification of the senses.
- SENSUOUS implies gratification of the senses for the sake of aesthetic pleasure (the sensuous delights of great music) .
- SENSUAL tends to imply the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of the physical appetites as ends in themselves (a life devoted to sensual pleasures).
- LUXURIOUS suggests the indulgence of sensuous pleasure inducing bodily ease and languor (a luxurious hotel).
- VOLUPTUOUS implies more strongly an abandonment especially to sensual pleasure (a voluptuous feast).