What comes to mind when you hear these terms? Most people think of them in terms of physical intimacy and from a sexual connotation. However, when taking the time to understand the basic principles of pleasure, you can recognize that real pleasure starts with the senses.
To truly delight and savor the sensual pleasures of life, you have to be willing to be intentional about slowing down, enjoying each moment as it comes, and embracing the fullness of your senses. If you’ve ready any of my other Diary entries, then you already understand that this is exactly what a ritual is: a practice rooted in intention and honoring the present.
These acts are especially important for women to bask in the true power of our femininity, which inspires us to create a life over creating a living. To do so, sensual pleasures need to be a part of our everyday lives.
How To Engage The Five Senses
First, let’s take a look into what a sensory experience might entail for each sense: taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound.
Food, obviously, can be an amazing sensual experience. Spices from across Africa and Asia can transport your pallet to a culture bursting with color, while fruits from the Caribbean and South America or herbs from the Americas and Europe can wow you with their vivid flavors. The flavors, the temperatures, and the textures of food have the unique experience of nurturing you at the same time, exciting your senses.
Here are a few ways to ignite Taste as part of a daily ritual:
- Slow down to savor your meal;
- Notice the different flavors of the food, spices, and herbs you are enjoying;
- Take note of the different textures in each dish.
The skin is the largest organ on the body. Sometimes you may take for granted and don’t notice how things: clothes, sheets, perspiration, the wind, feel on your skin. By being intentional and leaning into your skins’ sensations, you can truly open yourself up to a new level of sensual pleasure
Here are a few ways to explore Touch as part of a daily ritual:
- When showering or bathing, notice how the soap’s lather feels against your skin;
- Skim your hands along your body. Feel and embrace all your contours and curves;
- Give a hug! There is a vast amount of research that shows how beneficial hugs are to overall health.
Sight rituals are less about your actual eyesight, and center more on how you view your surroundings in your mind’s eye. Oftentimes, your gaze may be focused on what’s next, instead of what’s right in front of me. In this way, you often miss out on what’s going on around you and how it impacts you.
Here are a few prompts to help you explore Sight as part of a daily ritual:
- Close your eyes. Visualize your surroundings with just your memory;
- When you look away from the screen what attracts your eye? Why do you think this is?
- Reflect on how your surroundings make you feel. If its not already pleasing, how can you improve it? Is it color choices? Brightness or dimness?
It’s been studied that 75% of memories can be invoked through the sense of smell. In addition, smell is closely tied to emotions and can impact the nervous system, unlike the other senses. It’s no wonder that aromatherapy is so highly regarded in holistic wellness and ayurvedic communities.
Here are a few recommendations to activate your sense of Smell as part of a daily ritual:
- Light your favorite incense or candle;
- Smell fragrant flowers, like eucalyptus, rose, lavender, or gardenia;
- Note how your partner or children smell and what feelings it invokes.
Are you enjoying what you smell?
Like aromatherapy, music therapy also plays a critical role in your overall wellbeing. The rhythm and vibrations in sound send electric signals to your brain that can shift your mood and even your perception. Consider how sound plays a role in your daily life: how often do you listen to music, podcasts, or audio books? Do you think that impacts your thoughts and how you view specific situations?
Of course it does!
So, below are a few suggestions on how to include the depth of Sound into a daily ritual:
- In a safe place, close your eyes and pay attention to the sounds around you. Start with those that are the clearest, then move on to those that are faint;
- Listen to the sound of your own voice: think, read, or sing out loud;
- Create a playlist with varying types of music.
Now that we’ve dove into how to incorporate each sense, individually, as part of a daily ritual, let’s look at how you could use them holistically.
Morning Sense Rituals
A pleasant and soothingly arousing alarm gently awakes you from your sleep. You take notice of the warmth of your bed and its contrast to the coolness in the temperature of the air. You delight in the darkness of the room with the sun or moonlight shining in from the window.
Brew your favorite tea. Notice how the water changes color as the herbs and tea leaves gradually infuse. You take a comfortable seat, noticing the warm cup in your hands. Add your sweetener of choice, maybe its honey, and you notice how the rich honey color ever so gently dissolves, maybe even changing the color of the tea. As you begin to sip, you notice the taste of the tea as it warmly and delightfully travels down your throat.
Before you shower, you light a candle. As you begin to bathe, you are aware of the scent from the candle as it combines with the scent of your soap. As you cleanse your body, you follow by rubbing your hands along your skin, feeling the light, frothy suds against your slippery, moist body. Notice how your skin glows and radiates amidst the suds and the flow of the water.
How To Do A Sense Ritual
If you find it a bit difficult to slow down and take note of daily sensual experiences, try scheduling in a sense ritual. These rituals can be done alone, to get in touch with yourself, or with a partner as a way to enhance intimacy.
Step 1: Setup Your Sense Ritual
Gather items to entice each of the five senses. Remember: what you gather is entirely up to you, so ignite your creativity and play around with variety and textures!
Select a collection of items with a variety of flavors and textures such as different fruits, types of chocolate, cheeses or even a charcuterie board.
Collect items with a variety of textures to play around with. For instance, gather both rough and soft materials like feathers or ruffles, silk or satin, jeans, or woven items like that on a throw pillow, etc.
Creating a ritual space is so important. It should be comfortable and as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Choose colors and combinations that make you feel lighthearted, vibrant, and beautiful.
Light a candle, put on a diffuser, wax melt, or spritz a long-lasting room spray.
Curate a Sense Ritual playlist with a variety of songs and/or sounds.
Tip: Bring a blindfold! Using a blindfold may help you experiences the other senses more deeply.
Step 2: Schedule Time For Your Sense Ritual
Now that you are prepared, schedule a specific time and length to savor your in your Sense ritual. Ideally this time should be undisturbed... it is a ritual after all!
Now you’re ready to begin! As you begin to experience your Sense Ritual, notice how each sense makes you FEEL, not just externally, but internally, also:
- How do the textures feel on your skin and in your mouth?
- What do the flavors remind you of;
- What memories or feelings do the sounds and scents bring about?
Feeling coupled with your senses being delightfully engaged is truly where pleasure is ignited.
Nature Sense Ritual
Outside is one of the easiest way to tap into all of your senses, while also connecting to nature. Below are a couple examples of how to make your next walk or stroll a ritual.
Consider choosing a couple of exercises for each sense and trying to focus all your attention on the sensations:
Imagine something you can easily Taste, such as:
- Mint or sweet candy;
- Favorite food.
For this, you don’t actually have the physical item to be able to taste it. You can just think about the distinct flavor and how you may savor its taste.
Maybe you take note of the following with Touch, as you embark on your walk:
- Focus on how the air feels on your arms or how the breeze feels on your hair and face;
- Touch the trunk of a tree, its leaves, or the petals of a flower. Take note and focus on its texture.
To engage your sense of Sight in this nature ritual, try to:
- Look at the sky for clouds, birds, sunrises, or anything else you can spot;
- Focus your attention on a plant or flower and how it moves with the wind;
- Observe a pet while they play or rest.
Take special consideration to the colors or textures of what you are focusing on.
To incorporate Smell into your nature ritual, you may want to try this:
- Inhale and exhale deeply through your nose. Maybe you smell fresh cut grass or flowers blooming.
Some ways to engage Sound into this ritual is noticing:
- Birds singing or a dog barking;
- The wind blowing or leaves rustling;
- The sounds of a car.
I hope you can see from the above how simple, yet satisfying it is to incorporate a sense ritual into your daily routine, intentionally and honoring the present. By delighting in and engaging your senses as part of a regular practice, you begin to open up to deeper levels of sensory pleasure. Each day can be sensually pleasing, without relying solely on a sexual experience. And imagine, if ritual allows you to activate the fullness of your senses at a heightened level, how much more sensually pleasing a sexual experience would be! When you allow yourself to truly savor your senses, you open up yourself to experience life fully turned on.