How Sensuality Can Heal
Personal sensuality or mutual sensuality can be a powerful healing modality.
Posted February 17, 2021
February, the “month of love,” might be a good time to discuss the importance of sensuality, especially during a pandemic. So what is sensuality? It’s the ability to completely enjoy all of our senses including smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing. Sensuality is not always connected to another person—we can be sensual by ourselves and also with others. Also, it’s not always connected with intimacy or sexuality, but it’s most often an important part of physical and emotional healing.
In fact, according to Abram in his compelling book, The Spell of the Sensuous, in oral, indigenous cultures, the sensuous world is the place where the Gods dwell and the place where life can either be sustained or extinguished.
Life is sensual, and we are all sensual beings. Sensuality is a way of engaging in pleasure, which may include being in nature, listening to music, wearing perfume, eating chocolate, enjoying delicious meals, sunbathing, taking baths or showers, getting massages, nurturing one’s body with body lotion, dancing, reading sensual books, dressing beautifully, kissing, hugging, and lovemaking. As Valerie Ramsey in her book, Gracefully, writes, “Sensuality enriches the soul as much as it enriches the body and mind."
The COVID pandemic has forced many of us to adjust our usual sensual behaviors, in that we’re most likely not engaging in as many social activities at this time. For example, we’re touching less now than in normal times. We might meet a friend for a walk, and where we’d normally hug hello and goodbye, we just nod through our masks. These are huge shifts in our ways of interacting, which is really unfortunate because touch nourishes and heals, and also comforts and reassures. We’ve all had to readjust our ways of being.
The good news is that there are things we can do to spark our sensuality, which is an important aspect of health and well-being. Being sensual is a powerful life force that helps create a deeper connection with both ourselves and others. It’s about allowing “feel-good time.” If you’re able to engage in sensual behaviors on a regular basis, it can permeate many aspects of your life by making you feel more alive and playful, and less stressed and depressed.
However, if we’re unable to touch our dearest loved ones or friends, we can still share in sensory experiences such as having a cup of coffee or tea or having a meal together. These simple acts of communion open us up to engaging conversations, relaxation, and even laughter, which is another way to express sensuality.
Being sensual is empowering. If you’re engaging in sensual activities by yourself, chances are that when the time comes to be sensual with others—whether on an intimate or sexual level—it will come more naturally. Sensuality is an important part of intimacy and sexuality, but as mentioned above, it’s not necessarily connected.
While most of the people on the planet aren’t currently going out to clubs or dancing, we all know that the pandemic is temporary, and at some point in the future, we’ll be back in the swing of things. In her study on sensuality, salsa, salsa dancing, and aging, writer Sarah Milton (2017) said that it’s the physicality and closeness of touching strangers during salsa dancing that is such a novel experience. “Learning to touch and move in certain ways, by attending to the rules of the space,” encourages a “safe sensuality.”
If we each make an effort every day to journal about what we’re hearing, smelling, seeing, and tasting, it can provide a window of opportunity to get in touch with our senses and to understand which ones we need to tap into more readily. Being sensitive to our environment involves paying attention with all of our senses, which is the root of true sensuality, and no doubt sensuality within yourself and others can be healing.
Abram, D. (1996). The Spell of the Sensuous. NY: Vintage Books.
Milton, S. (2017). “Becoming more of myself: safe sensuality, salsa and ageing.” European Journal of Women’s Studies.Vol. 24(2). pp. 143–157.
Ramsey, V. with Heather Hummel (2008). Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.