Sensuality includes the five senses and conceptual thought. Our senses are always with us. They are how we experience the universe. They are there to add to our experience and give us pleasure. When we slow down, we can derive enjoyment anytime from something we hear, taste, see, touch, smell or think.
We tend to forget, but this is our sensuality. Living sensually is pleasurably employing the senses.
There is a basic difference between sensuality and sexuality. Although these terms are commonly used interchangeably, it is useful to distinguish between the two.
Sensuality is about giving pleasure to the body and mind through the senses. The only goal is pleasure.
Traditionally and at its basic level, sexuality is the physiological function of reproduction of the species that we are all born with. It is primarily goal-oriented.
An analogy using food illustrates the difference between sexuality and sensuality. The relationship is like satiating hunger with fast food or something that is good for you but just tastes okay, versus having a seven course gourmet dining experience and enjoying every morsel. People eat to survive, but they can also enjoy a deliciously prepared meal or a piece of chocolate.
“A man and woman sit across from one another in a dimly lit restaurant. A small bouquet of red-and-white spider lilies sweetens the air with a cinnamon like tingle. A waiter passes with a plate of rabbit sausage in mole sauce. At the next table, a blueberry soufflé oozes scent. Oysters on the half shell, arranged on a huge platter of shaved ice, one by one polish the woman’s tongue with silken saltiness. A fennel-scented steam rises from thick crab cakes on the man’s plate. Small loaves of fresh bread breathe sweetly. Their hands brush as they both reach for the bread. They both know where this delicious prelude will lead. “I’m so hungry,” she whispers.”
-Diane Ackerman Natural History of the Senses
Just as we learn to prepare and appreciate food for the pure pleasure of it, the ability to have and produce limitless sensual pleasure can also be learned.
Sensuality is an activity in and of itself – for example, you wouldn’t go to the symphony or a concert just to listen to the last note. Sensually, to appreciate a musical performance, requires listening to all of the sounds and notes from start to finish. The pleasure felt throughout the performance adds to the entire listening experience and makes the last note just as enjoyable as the first.
Applying sensuality to experiences in your life instantly opens the door to more pleasure. For example, the next time you sit down to a meal deliberately notice sensuality. Explore your senses. Pleasure is the goal. Slowing down, noticing what your senses are taking in and what gives you pleasure will enhance whatever it is you are doing. Noticing and finding out what delights the senses of a partner creates even more opportunities to experience pleasure in all areas of life.
When we put our attention on seemingly simple things, we can perceive the richness, meaningful enjoyment and gratification – what we call a pleasurable life.