Last year I enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing vacation. The kind of vacation I returned from feeling refreshed and relaxed. My body and spirit nourished. A vacation where each day flows one into the other. Simple delicious well prepared meals eaten slowly. We stayed in beautiful peaceful resort in a stunning natural environment. It was a week of dramatic landscapes, vibrant colors, warm clear skies, brilliant sunrises and sunsets, and the fresh unique scent of the high desert. We hiked through red rock formations, native trees and colorful desert flowers. Quiet stillness with faint breezes were interrupted only by occasional cars and people passing by. I enjoyed the refreshing contact of cool water as my sun- warmed body hit the pool surface. Relaxed as I sat down, I ate deliberately and slowly, savoring the spices, textures and flavors of each meal. Colors, sounds and scents all seemed heightened that week.
I was determined to find a way to feel and live this way always. It was magical.
I was suddenly jarred into “reality” as I walked off the plane by the frenetic movement, and the noise. Everyone seemed so distracted, whether hurrying to their gate, grabbing a meal or sitting in the waiting areas….heads buried in their smartphones.
I wanted to turn around and get on the next flight out. Of course I couldn’t, my “real life” was waiting. However, this time I returned from vacation was much more conscious and ready to change things up.
I made a personal commitment I was going to figure out how to live my life more the way I did on that special vacation. Why not, I thought? I had not felt that alive in a very long time. That feeling of aliveness was my very human sensual response to the world around me.
My Sensuality Project
Since that vacation, I have spent countless hours reading, learning and experimenting. I was on a mission to change things up and become more sensual in my everyday life. This became my Sensuality Project and here are a few things I learned.
If you think sensuality is mostly about sex, candles, bubble baths, flowers, lace and romantic dinners, you’re not alone. Most women still do. I used to, but not anymore. I have learned so much since deciding to live more sensually in all areas of my life. Since it is February, considered the month of romance and love, it’s the perfect time to make sensuality more a part of your everyday life.
Sensual living is a natural way of experiencing the world; positively affects our physical and emotional well-being; awakens our spirit, and gets us out of our head and into our bodies. We all need more sensuality now, especially at this time in our life.
“Adding more sensuality in your everyday life is the ultimate in self-care.”
Mindfulness and Sensuality
We hear so much about how important mindfulness is to improve feelings of well-being and stress reduction. It is scientifically proven to be true. I know from my years of on/off meditation practice, it positively helps me. In my research and experimenting with sensual living each day, I had similar results to mindfulness meditation. It was equally relaxing, reduced stress, increased clarity and peace of mind.
I feel more centered and notice what I’m feeling in a positive way, and less overwhelmed by negative events and things out of my control. I move more slowly and deliberately, whether it’s cooking, eating, and driving.
I am more aware of people, situations and environments –which ones make me feel better or worse. I strive to seek more of the former and less of the latter. Living sensually to me is mindful living through my senses and making my life definitely more pleasurable.
It is about asking myself senses-related questions. What am I feeling? What am I smelling? Tasting? Seeing? Hearing?
If you watch little children, they are very sensual from birth. A baby makes a face when they’re given a new food. You can see immediately if they like it or not. When last did you really taste what you were eating or drinking consciously? I think it’s something we have lost over the years. (But I don’t recommend making a face if you taste something you don’t like!)
I watch with fascination as my baby granddaughter touches, grabs and puts everything in her mouth. She’s fully engaged and totally absorbed happily with what she sees, hears and can touch. It is how she learns about her world. As I watch her parents cuddle, touch and caress her reminds me of the importance of touch is to our lives at all ages. Not only sexually, but simply as a moment of affection and connection. Are you touched enough in your life?
Look around with fresh eyes. When last were you fascinated by your everyday surroundings?
Sensuality gets us out of our heads and back into our bodies through heightened awareness to our life and surroundings. It is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and the ultimate in self-care.
Living More Sensually
1. Create a Sensual Personal Space to Live, Play and Work
Where do you spend your time? Is the room relaxing and comfortable? Does it soothe or agitate you? A sensual space welcomes you and feels like a familiar embrace. It doesn’t scream out at you, or make you feel any stress or react negatively.
On vacation, one of the first things I noticed was the clean, nicely decorated, clutter-free condo we entered. It smelled fresh, the colors were warm and natural light filtered into every room. The counters and table tops were free of papers and other clutter. It was calm and quiet. When I came home, the first space I cleared out was the bedroom (one of our most sensual spaces!). I put away or got rid of all the stuff that didn’t belong in a room of rest and pleasure. I have since moved through the other areas in my home. My office is last—and still a work in progress.
Try this… How do you feel when you enter your home or a room in your house. Or when you get into your car? Trust your gut. Does the air smell stale or fresh? Does your stomach tighten up when you look around? Papers and mail, remnants of meals, an unmade bed, dishes in the sink? Drawers crammed with stuff? Counters, floors and tables covered with paper and things not put away? Open space and clear counters and tables make a tremendous difference in a room.
First, get rid of clutter, put things away and clean up. As my friend and professional organizer Melissa Stacey says, “everything should have a home.”
Second, consider simple changes such as lighting, a lovely new pillow or throw blanket or candles. These can do amazing things in a room. It may just be a matter or moving things you already have around. Check out ideas on Pintrest. Watch the new Netflix Marie Kondo show for inspiration. A calm space is a gift of self-care.
2. Create Time and Space in Your Schedule
Like most of us, I easily get myself into the habit of rushing from one activity to another, trying to cram one more thing into the day. A few years ago, I consciously added a “buffer period” between events. It might be as short as 30 minutes or as long as a day or more. Going from one activity to another robs you of the opportunity to truly savor the fullness of the activity without that last minute frantic rush to the event.
When I go on vacation, I always allow at least one full day between the vacation and getting back to my normal routine. This allows me to reflect on what I had just enjoyed before our everyday activities.
A sensual mindset allows for sufficient transition time between activities, both quiet, reflective time after an activity and enough time to re-focus and “get us in the mood” for an upcoming activity.
My morning coffee ritual, quiet time to reflect and write, starts my day out beautifully. Compare this to leaping out of bed, a quick shower and out the door, travel mug of coffee in hand. Sensuality shows up in the quiet unassuming moments where we are present and aware.
Try this… Allow sufficient time before an activity to show up fully mentally and physically. Allow time at the end to finish up your activity, put things away, to clear the space, and further savor the experience you just had.
3. Enhance Your Senses in the Every Day Living
During the vacation, I really focused on the new experiences and environment and consciously decided to be more aware of using all my senses every day. I returned home with a renewed appreciation of how the senses enrich our lives in new and interesting ways.
Scent: Wear fragrance, perfume, lotions that make you enjoy (don’t overdo it, you don’t want to be the woman who is a walking cloud of cologne!) Use an essential oil diffuser or candles in the home with fresh, warm scents.
Make a meal using a crockpot. The house will be filled with the smells of warm comfort food cooking and you’ll enjoy a delicious meal in the evening.
Sound: Silence is golden and relaxing. Turn the TV off unless you’re watching it. Background noise is just that–noise! Select music for the mood you’re in. My musical tastes vary greatly, but when writing, I love listening to piano concertos and classical guitar. Good ol’ rock and roll is my choice for house cleaning and home projects.
Taste: I love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning and enjoy that wonderful dark, strong first cup of coffee with cream. The taste, warmth and creaminess is my sensual ritual and I’m gently transported from a restful sleep to my day ahead. Enjoying fresh, local and flavors of simply prepared meals is a truly sensual sensation.
Texture: I love the feel of natural wood, beautiful fabrics such as silk, wool and soft cotton. Step beyond the functionality of the piece of clothing or furniture to really appreciate the textures they bring into your life.
Sight: Lighting, space, and color can all be pleasing or jarring to our senses. Think about the contrast between a warm glow of a fire to the cold blue fluorescent lighting. Can’t you just feel the difference?
Look around and I’m sure you can find many ways to bring your vacation mindset into your everyday to live more sensually.