Whether done by yourself or with a partner, sex is one of the greatest pleasures and joys of life.
Did you know that of all search terms worldwide, the topic of sex shows up not once but twice in the top ten list of most searched for Google terms?
Sex has been feared, desired, spoken about, written about, and creatively depicted endlessly throughout the millennia. I bet within the past 24 hours you’ve probably heard, seen, or read something about sex. Am I right?
But this article is not about sex. It’s about sensuality.
To put it bluntly, many of us have no freakin’ clue about how to be sensual. And unfortunately, that means we cannot enjoy sex to the fullest and feel truly at home in our bodies.
Table of contents
What is Sensuality?
Sensuality can be defined as the ability to fully enjoy our senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. But don’t equate sensuality with sexuality. Sensuality can sometimes be sexual, but it doesn’t have to be. Anything that makes you feel physically good can be sensual. Examples include pleasant sounds, delicious food, massage, having a bath, hugging, eating peanut butter, and watching a sunset.
Do You Lack Sexual Confidence? This Might Be Why …
Sexual confidence can be evasive, confusing, and shaming to those of us who don’t “have” it.
The vast majority of characters and figures in the TV programs, movies, reality shows, and books we consume appear to be sexually confident and assertive. So why the hell can’t we be?
Firstly, I want to point out that sexual confidence doesn’t have to look like what we read and watch. It’s perfectly okay to have a completely different definition of sexual confidence to the established norm. Why? Ultimately sexual confidence is personal. Don’t feel the need to fit yourself into a box or tight little definition just because it’s socially acceptable. One reason why you may lack sexual confidence is that you are measuring yourself with a yardstick that just doesn’t fit you. Sometimes simply redefining what sexual confidence means to you strips away all the unnecessary baggage and leaves you feeling empowered. As the (valuable) cliche goes, “you do you.” No one can decide what sexual confidence means to you but you.
Other than lugging around a disempowering definition of sexual confidence, the next possible reason why you may feel uncomfortable is having an issue with your body. This is a common concern, and while I don’t have severe weight issues or body dysmorphia, I do know what it’s like to feel insecure about my body during sex. I would go so far in saying that most people feel insecure at some point about their physical appearance and this can have a significant impact on sexual confidence.
Closely connected to body insecurity is not knowing how to be in the body. So many of us are raised in sexually repressive cultures which teach us that sensuality and the enjoyment of sex are dirty, shameful, sinful, or morally corrupt. This conditioning has led to a society of people who are living in their heads and completely disconnected from their bodies.
As a person who was raised in an environment that perceived sex negatively, I learned to escape into the mind. Thanks to sensuality, I’ve been able to reconnect with my body and feel more empowered again.
I’ll explain why.
Why Learning to Be Sensual Increases Your Sexual Confidence
When done mindfully, sensuality can be a tremendously healing and empowering practice.
Being sensual grounds you in your body. When you’re consciously exploring what feels good you are learning your body’s language – you’re also giving your body a voice. Instead of seeing your body as an inconvenient meatsuit that you have to drag around, you start valuing it as a vessel of power and pleasure deeply capable of experiencing life.
Sensuality reminds us what it’s like to completely live life in the present moment. To be sensual is to be fully human. To be sensual is to honor life itself. There is a reason why you have the capacity to experience pleasure, so make the most of it!
Of course, there is a difference between only living for pleasure (also called hedonism) and mindfully choosing to enjoy pleasure. In this article, I’m advocating mindful sensuality. Yes, it is possible to misuse sensuality – but not if you have a clear intention and make self-care your priority.
When we learn what feels good on a sensual level, we become more embodied as human beings and therefore more capable of being sexually confident. Sensuality helps us to get out of our heads and into our bodies – and it’s much easier to be confident about what you can actively experience!
So if you struggle with a sexual insecurity or shyness, get into your body! My recommendation is that you learn how to enjoy all of your five senses and embrace sensuality as a regular (and intentional) part of your life.
50+ Sumptuous Ways to Experience Sensuality
If you would like to become a more embodied human being who is capable of fully owning your sexuality, try creating a daily sensuality practice. Choose one of your senses (taste, touch, sight, smell or hearing) and explore what brings you pleasure.
Here are some helpful ideas. Do note that while some of these ideas might sound silly or commonplace, they are shared in the context of mindfully and intentionally experiencing them.
1. Give yourself a massage with your hands or a tennis ball. (You can sit against a wall and roll the tennis ball up and down your back.)
2. Get a professional massage and experiment with the different options. For example, you might choose to get a Thai foot massage one week, and then a hot stone back massage on another occasion.
3. Buy some silky body lotion or body butter and apply to your body at night. Focus on the sensation of the liquid against your skin.
4. Go outside and roll around on the grass.
5. Sit in the sun and feel the warmth on your face.
6. Experiment with self-pleasure. You don’t necessarily need to build up to an orgasm – you can simply explore what feels nice in different areas of your body.
7. Try stretching different areas of your body and notice which parts experience the most relief.
8. Get your partner or a family member to brush your hair.
9. Cuddle with a pet or loved one in the park or on the couch.
10. Get some putty to play around with from the local $1 store
11. Jump on a trampoline or swing on some swings.
12. Sleep naked in your bed.
13. Wear extra soft, silky clothes (or underwear).
14. Get your partner to softly touch different areas of your body. Notice which areas increase your pulse.
15. Focus on the movement of your stomach as you breathe.
16. Go to a candle store and pick out your favorite scented candles.
17. Have a hot bath and add herbs and essential oils to the water.
18. Visit a perfume store and sample all the different smells.
19. Apply some essential oils into a diffuser while you work (or before going to bed).
20. Go for a walk outside and notice all the smells that come your way.
21. Create your own scent blends by mixing essential oils.
22. Notice how your partner or parental figure smells (I’m talking natural, clean smell here!).
23. Focus very carefully on everything you eat. What textures are the most noticeable?
24. Make a dish you’ve never tried before. Periodically taste it as you cook it to get the flavor just right.
25. Bake a delicious dessert for yourself. Then, sit down and enjoy every bite when it’s finished.
26. Go to a restaurant that serves foreign food that you haven’t tried before.
27. Visit your local grocery store and buy something you’ve never tasted before. How does it taste?
28. Chew sugar-free gum after meals – how does it feel?
29. Eat something in total darkness. In what ways is the flavor amplified?
30. Try oil pulling every morning (oil pulling is the ancient practice of using oil to increase oral hygiene). Focus on the feeling of swishing oil around in your mouth.
31. Find something you really enjoy eating and eat it super slowly.
32. Experiment with eating your food in different ways, e.g. try using your hands (Indian style) or learn to use chopsticks (Chinese style).
33. Get your friend or partner to feed you. Does the experience of eating change?
34. Watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
35. Get a lava lamp and watch the colorful bubbles.
36. Create a piece of art with glitter.
37. Visit a church or cathedral and admire the stained glass.
38. Light a candle or fireplace and watch the wick/wood burn.
39. Sit outside in nature and watch the wind blow through the trees.
40. Watch your children or pets play.
41. Light some incense and watch the smoke curl.
42. Sit in a quiet spot and listen to all the sounds around you.
43. Watch a movie and listen to the actor’s voices. Which voices do you like listening to the most?
44. Repeat a mantra out loud for ten minutes. What impacts can you notice on your mind and body?
45. Find music from a different culture, e.g. Irish, Spanish, German, Indian. How do you feel when you listen to it?
46. Hum or whistle to yourself.
47. Play a favorite song and sing out loud.
48. Put on classical music while you work or read.
49. Listen to a guided healing meditation.
50. Explore the quirky world of ASMR.
51. Try floating in a sensory deprivation tank (search “float tank” on google) and enjoy the sound of silence.
52. Use an app like Noisli to immerse yourself in an environment of nature sounds.
53. Practice howling with your dog or canine friend.
54. Copy the bird calls outside and see whether the birds respond to you.
I realize that some of these suggestions will either be too out of your comfort zone or seem completely weird and unreasonable – and that’s okay. Take what you need, and leave the rest. :)
Sensuality is a practice we can introduce into nearly any moment of the day. By becoming more embodied, we become more capable of experiencing sexual confidence. You might also wish to journal about how your sensuality practice slowly influences your sex life. Learn more about how to journal.
I’d love if you could add some ideas to this article. What are your favorite ways of being sensual? Please share below!
I’m a 54 year old man and I’ve never had sex, or a girlfriend, or a date. Even though I’ve been intensely attracted to women since I was a teenager, I’ve never asked any woman out. The idea of me making a move on – or even expressing sexual interest in – a woman just seems completely alien and undoable, let alone being in a relationship or having sex. Like it doesn’t apply to my life. Like I’m ineligible for it. I think most people around me have similar thoughts about me, which is frustrating because I do in fact want to be sexual. I will not see another therapist because I have been betrayed by two of these people in the past and will never trust another one.
Thank you for this post and all you do. It doesn’t ever go unitised,you’re giving peoples power back.
Re;sensuality we live in a “fake society” where porn is seen as the normal,woman half naked to get their self worth,from out side of self.
Sensuality is an in side job,it’s the jewels of your soul.
For a lot of people ,it gets buried but when you use it,it’s very powerful.
Even sleeping naked with your partner,not doing anything just laid skin on skin stirs the old sensuality pot,whispering in their ear or lightly running your fingers over their skin.
There is so many different ways.
Thank you for sharing
I’m thinking that just feeling your clothes and jewelry on your skin can help. Also taking up a dance, like Belly Dancing, and truly feeling its flow might help. Thank you for the recommendations above