We talk often of sexuality, but how much focus do we give to our sense of sensuality? Sensuality is a lost art, the poor forgotten cousin of sexuality, yet it is vitally important for self-confidence.
Hectic lives and busy minds can contribute to loss or lowering of libido and reduced sexuality for many, especially as we get older. Reconnecting to our sensual sides, apparently, is one way to combat this. Whereas sexuality is all about your attraction to another person, sensuality is much more personal. It’s about your connection to self, your senses and your environment.
“Feel, don’t think,” explains women’s coach Sasha Cagen, who specialises in sensuality. “A lot of women I talk to feel distant from the experience of sensuality and being a woman, whether in their relationships, or because they have been single for a long time, or because they work in male-dominated workplaces and need to act and dress more like men to fit in.”
For many women, there is a double-edged sword to dressing sexy or expressing ourselves very overtly in a feminine or sensual way. We might not feel safe, whether from judgment from other people or from fear of harassment or even the false belief that we can only be one thing: smart or sexy. But, according to Cagen, finding our unique feminine expression is important, not just for our own well-being, but for our sense of sexuality.
When you stop thinking, you get to feel and feeling allows you to go into another more sensual state
“Letting go is an aspect of the human experience that is deeply sensual for women and men because it allows you to get out of your planning, always-thinking, scheming head and into your felt experience,” says Cagen. “When you stop thinking all the time you get to feel and feeling allows you to go into another more sensual state, which benefits all aspects of your life, especially your sexuality.”
Certainly reconnection has become a modern mission for many. The stratospheric rise in popularity of yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and even tantra, are evidence that there is an appetite for some form of antidote to the modern mayhem of juggling balls and spinning plates.
Tantra specialist Tara Le Mains from the Art of Transcendence advocates tantra, yoga and meditation as a powerful way to touch base with your sense of self. Often tantra has a misinformed reputation as being only about sex, but according to LeMains, sex plays just a small part of the overall practice, which focuses much more on sensuality.
“Tantra, yoga and meditation are about opening up your body and feeling better connected to it. Tantra in particular is about connecting to your body, coming back to self, and accepting you as you are. It doesn’t matter how anyone else sees you, but how you feel about yourself. It creates an awareness of your body which yes, makes you feel and enjoy your sensuality much more.”
The “feeling, not thinking” aspect is something that will resonate with many women as being quite the challenge. In over-burdened, over-planned lives, it seems we can loose an intimacy with ourselves.
Sex education in Ireland has been less than liberating, especially for women
“Often our sexual energy is shut down,” explains Le Mains. “In tantra when you meditate, sexual energy is awakened, and it affects all aspects of your life. In Ireland, people are more reticent about being overtly sensual and find it hard to talk about how they feel about themselves sexually, but being able to explore the body without shame or guilt is so important.”
Sex education in Ireland has been less than liberating, especially for women. This is perhaps not unusual given how little the issue of exploring sexual pleasure is given a platform.
From as far back as sex education at school, men and women are taught to view their sexuality differently. Boys are told that they have orgasms and ejaculate, while girls are told they have periods and babies.
Yoga, meditation and tantra are just some ways women can reconnect with themselves. Dance is another. Cagan uses tango as a way to introduce women to their sensual selves.
“When you dance, your priority is to feel, and then to move your body in response to what you feel. You have an intellectual idea of what you are supposed to do, but what matters more is to allow yourself to feel what you receive from your partner and then take a step in response. You are learning how to feel through your body, and to trust your feelings rather than your thoughts.”
Women are often told they are too sensitive, but dance is a place where sensitivity is prized, by tuning into another person and letting that energy pass through your body to express a response. “So learning tango, or other forms of dancing, gives you a way to develop sensitivity all over your body. Perhaps in sex you don’t feel much or you don’t feel very connected to your body. Dancing can reconnect you,” says Cagen.
Intrigued (and embarking on the dating scene for the first time again since last century), I decided to go in search of this “inner goddess” myself. I travelled to Buenos Aires to take part in a tango week to find not just my dancing feet, but my sensual soul.
I thought it would be challenging to get close and personal in a sweaty embrace with a strange man, and be led around a dance floor. But the opposite was true. Learning to close my eyes and feel the steps rather than think them was one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had.
The moment a woman connects to her body by connecting with her sensuality she has a new source of power
Cagen sees this over and over again with her clients. “I see that the moment a woman connects to her body by connecting with her sensuality she has a new source of groundedness, power, and intuition. She taps into her natural goddess energy without makeup, high heels, or a new outfit. It’s available at any age. When you walk or stand connected to yourself, you create a different vibration. You feel different and people feel you differently.”
Thankfully learning to tango in South America is not the only way to connect to our inner sensual selves. In towns and cities all over Ireland, dancing is having a renaissance alongside the popular physical activities such as yoga, tantra and meditation. Even a hot bath is a chance to connect.
In a world seemingly going a little crazy, becoming a bit more grounded in ourselves sounds like a good idea. And who wouldn’t want to find their inner goddess?