“Desire is the kind of thing that
leaves you starving.”
― Nayyirah Waheed
When we refer to someone as being sensual we often think of someone as having a passion for physical pleasures, namely sexual ones, however, sensuality can go much deeper than that, encompassing the ability to fully awaken one’s senses using smell, touch, sight, hearing, and feeling . This can awaken desires in the body and influence sexual connection in numerous ways, as well as contributing to an overall sense of well being and an appetite for life.
Music, dance, art, cooking…all of these things can be sensual.
SEX can, and should be sensual.
We are living in a time where being busy is viewed as a measure of self worth and we have an increasing need to prove our relevance through our use of social media. We are actively connected while becoming progressively disconnected from other things that truly matter like our families, our bodies, our partners and our pleasure.
Desire does not start in the bedroom.
Desire is a sense of longing, wanting, a craving even. As humans when we desire something or someone our sense of excitement is heightened over the very thought of that person or thing. Desire can be immediate or it can escalate over time. I believe desire drives the energy behind our sensual manifestations. The ache and hunger resulting from desire connects the dots to our sensuality, blending the two into a beautiful union.
Our desires can often seem frivolous, wrought with feelings of unworthiness, shame or even fear. Those emotions manifest in our bodies making us feel burdened and disconnected with our sensual selves. This can be confusing, in regards to sex and other areas of our lives where we might feel unsettled.
We all have different relationships to desire, some of us feeling like pleasure is our birthright and others feeling like it is shameful and indulgent. Our enjoyment of anything, whether it is the sweetness of candy on our lips, intimate flirtation or sex is dependent upon how we identify with that thing, and ourselves.
I want a cupcake. I really really want a cupcake, I can picture it in my mind, and it is an oversize white confetti cupcake with vanilla icing and sprinkles, my mouth waters when I imagine biting into it. I believe I deserve a treat and I cannot wait to relish in every decadent bite of that cupcake. When I finally bite into the cupcake it tastes like angels made it and sent it down from heaven. It leaves me feeling fulfilled. I feel good about treating my body as it takes good care of me.
I want a cupcake; I picture it as the most beautiful thing ever, a white confetti cupcake with soft vanilla flavored icing topped with sprinkles. I can’t stop thinking about it and my appetite for it cannot be quenched by imagination alone. The thought of the cupcake drives me to distraction and when I finally get it into my mouth the first bite tastes like disappointment and shame. I hear those mean girls in grade five who taunt me and tell me I am fat, and I recall those all too tight jeans that my parents wouldn’t replace because they said I was growing too fast and I was forced to squeeze into them with my belly hanging over the waist band. My desire for that cupcake represents my humiliation. I throw it in the garbage and wipe the embarrassment off my lips. My pants now hang off my body, my once womanly curves have given way to a thinner, more delicate frame, some may say I border on emaciated.
The above examples represent different relationships to food and to our bodies; it can be assumed that the individual’s relationships to sexuality differ as well due to their distinct relationships with their bodies.
There is power in our wants and needs, in satisfying our desires in a healthy way, whether they are for sex, food or fulfillment. We do not have to satisfy all of our desires of course but what if we are able to realize them, see how they feel in our bodies, and be aware of our responses to them.
As we grow and change from children into young adults we become abundantly aware of perceptions and how society views certain things, especially ourselves and our bodies. We feel the pressure to look, dress and act a certain way, to be perceived as smart, powerful or sexy. This can lead us to feeling a huge disconnect with who we really are. When we are lot aligned with all of the things that make us unique, who are we really? This disconnect, when mixed with the shame, fears and traumas we have dragged around since childhood, or picked up a long the way can lead to further confusion and doubt. We are constantly looking outside of ourselves for approval. When we neglect to look inward to see what our needs are, what resonates with who we are and what we want and how we want to show up in the world we often get it all wrong.
Men and women enter into adulthood carrying a lot of shame surrounding themselves as sexual beings. The reason could be as simple as the way they were talked to about sex and how it was portrayed to them. Often parents use fear as a tactic to keep their adolescents from engaging in sex and that alone can have real and lasting consequences. When we are taught that sex is bad, and we give in to our desire for it anyway, we still have sex but our pleasure is limited or perhaps non existent. We may have had sexual experiences where we felt clumsy and embarrassed or were made to feel undesirable and that can show up in the way that we view sex and desire until we are ready to heal that. Sexual assault statistics are staggering, one in three women and one in six men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes and that can have tremendously damaging effects on sex lives when that trauma is not healed. When that thing that is supposed to bring you immense pleasure is used to hurt you, all future encounters can be painful and complicated. Just last week I saw a story about a rape case in Ireland where a teenage girl’s thong was entered into evidence. We should be horrified beyond words by this. To associate any article of clothing as an excuse for rape is appalling. I myself enjoy sexy underthings, it makes me feel good; sexy and powerful. I feel comfortable in my own skin. It doesn’t matter that I am the only one that is going to see them throughout the day, I feel good in them and I embrace that. Rape is not about desire, sensuality, or love and it has very little to do with sex. Rape is about power over another person. The shame that surrounds sexual assaults can impact us over an entire lifetime, causing us to become so detached from our own bodies and disengaged from desire, sensuality and pleasure that sometimes we just go through the motions.
“Desire makes life happen. Makes it matter. Makes everything worth it. Desire is life. Hunger to see the next sunrise or sunset, to touch the one you love, to try again.
‘Hell would be waking up and wanting nothing,’ he agrees.”
― Karen Marie Moning, Shadowfever
Pleasure is our birthright.
We know this but it is not enough to just know.
Do you know what it feels like to actually embody your body?
Because of beliefs that were impressed upon us from pre-birth onwards we are often under the assumption that sensuality and sexuality are things that we do, not things that we are. Knowing of course is only half the battle, to get curious about ourselves and our bodies, to expand and to be, can sometimes lead to further discouragement because what we believe to be true from years of conditioning may not feel right in our bodies anymore. We have years of outdated beliefs and ideals embedded deep in our consciousness and many more hidden in our unconscious. Challenging them may bring up some discomfort. That is OK. Change is not always comfortable.
This post is an invitation to fully step back into your body and to experience maximum pleasure, to heal your traumas, to expand your erotic knowledge and to embrace your desires.
Fully embracing your sensual self is not just a task for those partnered up. To not only recognize your need and want for pleasure but accept your right to it is a creative endeavor for anyone with a body. Get curious about yourself.
Are you talking to your partner about sex? Are you expressing your wants and your deepest desires? Are you communicating what you like and what you don’t like? Are you have mind-blowing sex?
We cannot expect our partners to be mind readers. In a committed relationship, sex is an expression of our love for one another and communication is an extension of that love. If you are in a non monogamous relationship and you are not seeking to experience the maximum amount of pleasure and fulfill your deepest desires…what are you doing???
We are all individuals; we have our own set of beliefs, wants, needs and pleasure centers. If we expect to get the maximum amount of pleasure out of anything we do, we need to get curious. The current will carry you where you want to go but you have to stop trying to row up stream. (Stop resisting your wants and needs)
In the entire universe there exists only one thing that you can control. That thing, that amazing human being is you and you are a vast universe within yourself, an infinite sea of passions, experiences and recollections. In any given moment you have an unlimited set of choices. Consider getting to know you, all of you, as a person, a divine being and a sensual being full of love, wants, needs, desires, and an unrivaled capacity for pleasure.
What is it your mind, body and soul are craving? Give it that. If it is sex and candy enjoy the sweetness of it all, with no shame.
“There is no fulfillment that is not made sweeter for the prolonging of desire”
― Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Dart