Our five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) are a precious gift of life. If we ignore or suppress the sensual messages of our body, our sensual responses diminish.
We feel more stressed, more easily upset, and we heal from illnesses more slowly. However, when any of our senses stop working, when we are in a state of fear or in the throes of passion, all of our active senses become more sensitive. With a little practice, we can bring greater sensual awareness into our daily lives and in our most intimate relationships. By paying attention to our intimate partner with all of our senses, we become more connected and more aligned, which often leads to a greater sense of love, pleasure, and joy in the presence of the other.
It has been said that our eyes are the windows to our soul. Our eyes observe the wonderful beauty, colors, shapes and movements of nature. Through our eyes we can establish or break contact with others. Through our peripheral vision, we anticipate movement, as in sports, or detect imminent danger. Even without our conscious awareness, our eyes detect the attitude and emotional state of others. Babies respond negatively even to momentary lapses of the mother’s visual attention. Our eyes see more than the external physical appearance. Through the eyes of love, we can see the inner beauty that lies within each of us waiting to be recognized and appreciated.
Sound warns us of impending danger or the promise of excitement. A mother’s heartbeat comforts and lulls her baby to sleep. The purr of a cat calms us down and makes us smile or scares us if we are afraid of them. A barking dog protects us, if we are its owner, or it can scare us if we are a stranger. Our lover’s voice excites us with a passionate feeling or repels us after a disturbing argument. Certain sounds facilitate learning. Other sounds, through rhythmic entrainment, help our body to heal. The sounds in the environment or those emanating from our lover enhance or interfere with our sexual desire, arousal, orgasm or sexual pleasure in general.
A healthy person can detect 10,000 to 30,000 different scents. However, each of us has our own olfactory preferences, based on our society, culture, ethnic group, experiences, memories, or part of the world we live in. Memories triggered by a smell tend to be more emotionally intense than other sensory cues. Some of the worst memories of victims of disasters or sexual abuse are caused by their sense of smell. On the other hand, the aroma of freshly baked cookies or a roast can warm our hearts, instantly reminding us of an emotionally comforting and happy time from our childhood. The lingering scent of our lover’s cologne or natural body odor can stimulate our longing to reconnect.
Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, MD, author of the book Scentsational Sex, conducted studies to discover which particular scents cause sexual arousal in men and women. For men, the scent of a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie showed the greatest measurable arousal, increased blood flow to the penis, while licorice and donuts, as well as cinnamon buns, also had a stimulating effect. But arousal in men increased in response to each scent tested. Not so for women. Women’s arousal, as measured by increased vaginal blood flow, was highest in response to the scent of Good and Plenty, licorice candy, or assorted licorice and cucumber combined, but was also affected by a lavender cake combination. and pumpkin. By discovering which scents are most personally stimulating for our partner and ourselves, we can create a scent-sensitive environment designed to increase sensual desire and enhance sexual pleasure.
It is a matter of taste that may be more true than we ever imagined. The French expression, each à son gout – each one to his liking, describes it well. Human beings are, in fact, genetically, culturally and individually different in their ability to perceive the flavors of food. Scientists have categorized people into super-tasters, tasters, and non-tasters, based on the number of fungiform papillae, the structures that support the taste buds on their tongues. About 25% of the population appears to be super-tasters, 25% non-tasters, and 50% tasters. Women are more likely to be super tasty, especially when estrogen is at its highest during ovulation or pregnancy. Super-tasters tend to be more sensitive to a bitter compound in broccoli and other vegetables or the bitter aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. Non-tasters seem to barely perceive these bitter flavors. Knowing the unique flavor capacity of our partner, we can prepare meals that whet the appetite, we can play sensual food games together or we can savor the flavor of each other’s essence.
Touch, even the mere intention of touching, can affect the health, elasticity, texture, and responsiveness of our skin and internal organs. The way our skin responds to touch is determined by many factors: the quality of touch, our genetic makeup, gender, health status, previous tactile experiences, individual pain and pleasure threshold, as well as our perceptions, beliefs and memories. Even a light touch on the surface of our skin can have a profound effect of pleasure, pain, irritation or tickling. Each of us responds very differently to touch, and we respond differently to the same type of touch at different times and with different people. Touch therapy can alleviate our physical aches and pains, while somatic body psychotherapy can improve our overall health and well-being.