Sensuality as Self-Care

photo by @thelittlepatchouli on instagram

It is a tender and challenging time for feeling connected and cared for, and yet we are being given an opportunity to reconnect with the power of self-intimacy and sensuality as an act of self-care. 

The global pandemic has brought many of us into a new understanding of what it means to be alone or in close quarters with fewer people, to spend time by ourselves for extended periods of time, and to not have intimate connection as accessible as we formerly did. Though we will not know the full breadth of the psychological impact for some time, we can already see and feel the ways in which this has increased anxiety, depression, and deep soul fatigue on a collective and individual level. So, we are invited to accept this opportunity, as we peel back layers and learn to soften in more intimate ways with ourselves.

For many westerners growing up with the influence of religion or modesty around sensual expression, sexuality was often seen as taboo. If we were given a sex talk as teenagers, it was often from the perspective of not engaging with it (or 'going there') or protecting from pregnancy and STDs. We were not typically taught to embrace our bodies in a way that celebrates our sexual power, which in many wisdom traditions is looked at as our creative energy which allows us to birth not only life, but ideas, relationships, art, and experiences. By not being in touch with this aspect of our being, we are cutting ourselves off from one of the most powerful and dynamic energy sources that lives within our body. 

Another factor that contributes to the separation from one's sexuality is the pervasiveness of sexual trauma. It is estimated that almost one million people a year experience some sort of sexual trauma. For those of us who are victims of this, moving towards our sexual expression and connecting with our sensuality can be emotionally and mentally painful or sticky. It's often easier to not look at the places that hurt than to go towards them.

And yet, tapping into our sexuality is one of the most healing experiences we can offer ourselves. It is the highest form of intimacy, you with you in a sacred way. Those of us that have experienced the trauma of stigmatization or violence need to be as gentle, patient, and kind in our exploration as possible, and see that reconnecting to our body and its sexual power is a pathway towards healing and expansion.

We can look at sensuality in terms of orgasm (the experience of which can be a meditation technique known as Orgasmic Meditation) as well as in terms of connection. Spending time with ourselves naked, touching our body, giving it luxurious self-massages, talking to it sweetly, and celebrating the very vessel we experience all of life through are all forms of sensuality. The doorway opens when we are willing to prioritize being with ourselves in the way that we would want a partner to be with us.

To love ourselves the way we crave to be loved, to witness ourselves the way we crave to be seen, to listen to our body the way we crave to be heard. The key here is that we do not actually need anyone else to experience the healing, the pleasure, and the power that awaits. Now is the time to turn sweetly towards yourself. Be with your body. Adore it. Honor it. Witness the infinite power it contains.

Try this Ayurvedic ritual of abhyanga self-massage to treat yourself to some quality nurturing you time:

1. Choose a body oil for this massage. Sesame oil is recommended as a grounding oil that deeply nourishes the skin. You can choose to heat up the oil by putting it in a glass container and running it under hot water for a few moments. Warm oil is such a gift to the body. If you are short on time, room temperature is fine.

2. Apply some of the oil to your hands and massage your entire body for 10 minutes (or more if you have the time), applying even pressure as you go. Apply lighter pressure to sensitive areas such as your upper torso, breasts, heart, and abdominal area. Use circular motions over rounded areas such as your feet and scalp, and straight, longer strokes on your limbs.

3. As you oil your body, speak to it. Say out loud what you love about that part of your body. "I love you feet and how you take me wherever I want to go. I love you hips and how you sway and dance. I love you belly and how you digest all I feed you...etc etc" Bless your body with YOUR appreciation, as you sincerely witness its beauty, power, and how deserving of care it is. If it feels uncomfortable to speak praises and loving words to your body, this is the sign that you would be supported in engaging with this practice every day. Be curious and breathe into all that arises. 

4.Spend some extra time massaging your feet. The feet do so much for us and are often neglected. Thank your feet for everywhere they have carried you so far. 

5. If you feel called, you can explore massaging your genital area, bringing your sacred practice in connection with pleasure. Notice any discomfort emotionally or mentally that arises. Be patient and gentle with yourself and your self-intimacy journey.

6. Once complete, take a warm shower, dry off, and allow yourself to rest in warmth. Know that you deserve to feel held, cherished, and adored, and you can give yourself this time any moment you need.