Everybody knows what’s sexy, right? We see images all the time of good looking men and women, smoking physiques, and enticing faces. People magazine tells us every year who is The Sexiest Man Alive! and men’s magazines are full of images of alluring women. There is one standard of beauty offered, and a real human being’s sexiness quotient is measured by how closely they measure up to the media’s promotion of who and what are sexy.
In our culture, attraction has become an entirely visual experience. Instead of eroticizing the whole body, we make love only with our eyes. Our relationship to our own bodies has become one of working on them at the gym in order to be visually attractive to potential lovers to the exclusion of anything else.
But the visual is only one of our five senses, and by telling us that the visual is what’s sexy, we learn to have a skewed emphasis on physical image. We come to pay less attention to the other four senses and the art of sensuality is being lost. When we talk about the sensual, we are talking about the seductive qualities of the sounds of our lover’s voice and the sighs of lovemaking, our partner’s particular scent, the taste of their sweat, and the touch of their skin.
Sensual sex is about two people connecting through all five senses. We are meant to make love not only with our eyes, but also with our nose, our ears, our mouth, and our hands. We can learn to enjoy the touch, scent, sound, and taste of sex, instead of only the sight. Many of the exercises practiced in the art of tantra are conducted blindfolded so as to short-circuit the eyes and have the practitioner focus instead on the other senses.
There is a famous story of Napoleon writing home to his wife, Josephine, “I’ll be home in three days. Don’t bathe.” To men of earlier generation, the natural scent of a woman was an intoxicating aphrodisiac that drove them wild with desire.
Sensual means that you appreciate your partner in their entirety, experiencing their desirability just the way they are. Rather than focusing on what, in your opinion, is not like a magazine cover, close your eyes and feel, listen, smell, and touch the incredible and unique sexiness of this particular lover who is gracing you with their intimacy and vulnerability. Every person wants to be loved in their totality, not just as a collection of body parts.
© Catherine Auman 2008
Catherine Auman, MFT is a spiritual psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, Calfornia. She has advanced training in both traditional and alternative methodologies based on ancient traditions and wisdom teachings. Visit her online at http://www.catherineauman.com