This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Sensuality — what that word really means, and the important, underappreciated role that sensual experience plays in our health and happiness.
We live in a culture that often distorts sensuality — glorifying sex and promoting certain forms of consumer-oriented decadence, but limiting our appreciation of our own inherently sensual natures.
So here, from the biological benefits of sensual of pleasure to the difficulties we have in talking about it in polite company, we take a look at what’s known about sensuality and where it fits into our lives.
“Sensuality” Episode Highlights
- Housekeeping details: A few shifts we’ve embraced in response to helpful listener feedback, and a call for more ideas on where we might go from here
- A new segment: Listener questions! We address Ryan’s inquiry about which healthy lifestyle shifts to start with, and how to avoid getting overwhelmed by taking on too much at once
- The difference between sensuality and sexuality
- The dearth of scientific data on sensuality, and the many limitations of research into sensual and sexual satisfaction
- Factors that limit our sensual experiences
- Revisiting elements of the 1960s human potential movement and its modern-day expressions
- The similarities between certain popular schools of sensual practice and nutritional reductionism
- The role of sensual experience in a healthy, happy life
- The opportunity to embrace sensual experiences wherever you happen to be, and some good reasons to do so
- Our cultural squeamishness around long hugs and other forms of extended physical contact, even among close friends and family
- Our human need for physical touch, and how we go about getting those needs met
- This week’s experiments
Find or create a situation where you can experience some form of sensual touch that isn’t sexual.
- It might be with a close friend or romantic partner — either way, the goal is the same: feel-good, non-sexual contact.
- Notice that opportunities for physical touch are all around us, but sometimes we need to make an effort in their direction.
Decide to have a positive sensual experience right now, wherever you are.
- Look around for what’s available for one or more of your senses to enjoy, and tune into the experience for at least 15 seconds.
- If you’re having trouble finding something sensual to enjoy in the moment, decide which sense you most feel called to indulge, and make arrangements to address it at first opportunity.
- Repeat as often as possible.
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Now, we’re in love with doing the podcast and we’re excited to make it sustainable for the long haul. We welcome your thoughts on how we might best do that.
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Please note that while neither this episode nor its show notes includes any graphic or explicit sexual content, they do, at occasional intervals, reference sensual experiences. Some of the links within this section may also take you to sites through which you may discover more explicit content. Please explore at your own discretion.
- Pilar’s article “A Real Pleasure”, from Experience Life magazine, which explains the science of pleasure, and references some hormones and neurochemicals (including the feel-good antibacterial agent, proenkephalin) associated with pleasure.
- The ABC News Primetime American Sex Survey that Pilar referenced.
- “What Do You Mean When You Say You Are Sexually Satisfied?” from the journal Feminism & Psychology, on the lack of consideration for gender and sexual orientation perspective in sexual satisfaction research.
- Our recent “Resistance to Pleasure” episode, featuring teachers from Lafayette Morehouse, an intentional community that has been pursuing sensual research since 1968.
- The quote from Hermann Hesse (written in 1905!) that Dallas shared, plus more on busyness as a source of unhappiness, from Brain Pickings.
- OMGYes, referenced by Pilar as an example of recent mass-culture focus on sensuality-based studies (in this case, focused on female pleasure).
- The scientific case for the health benefits of hugging — a roundup via David Wolfe.
- “The Power of Touch: How Physical Touch Can Improve Your Health” from The Huffington Post.
- A roundup of the science on “The Power of Touch” from The New Yorker.