Hello, one and all. I know the blog has been a bit sparse the last month. If you didn't know, I started a new job working as an outpatient therapist at a local office where I live, and well, it's been taking up quite a bit of my time. It is a different population than I'm used to working with, too, as the vast majority of clients are drug and alcohol clients, so I've been having to go through a lot of training on that particular population and learn the company's paperwork. Still, I'm excited about the opportunities this new job will provide.
That being said, I realize I still need to make time for what's important to me, and this blog, my sex counseling clients, and sex education for folks are super important to me. This week I wanted to talk a bit about sensation play. I did a video on TikTok about sensation play and thought this would be a great topic to hone in on for the blog. I also wanted to include some slow touch and sensual touch exercises and some practical tips on how to increase the pleasure and intimacy of your time with yourself or with your partner(s).
#1 Sensation Play 101
Sensation play is the art of getting the senses involved in the process of arousal and intimacy to enhance the experience. There is a wide variety of ways to do this, and it can be done by those who identify more as vanilla and those who lean more into kink and BDSM play. Now, remember, sensation play means you can involve all the senses, not just skin (touch). Try taking away eyesight, playing music, using some nice cologne, incense, or essential oils, and maybe even feed your lover some food. The beauty of sensation play is it is entirely customizable and can even be done solo. Though there are a lot of sensation play styles that do require a partner, many things one can experiment with solo.
In addition to playing around with the senses, it's also fun to play with textures, speeds, and temperatures. You can use ice cubes and wax for variation. There are feathers, leather, rope, velvet, satin, and so many more when it comes to texture. Of course, play around with speeds too. Since sensation play can be done by those who identify as more vanilla, think about massaging at different rates or other touches. Perhaps switching between firmer to very light, moving as slow as possible, to maybe a more fast-paced running of the fingers. The same goes for if you get implements and toys involved. Try different speeds with a flogger, massage mitt, the dripping of wax. Perhaps you can build an entire scene or experience around a playlist or a menu.
The reason I love sensation play is the variety of it all. There are so many ways to play and explore with yourself or with a partner. And just because you've tried something one time and maybe didn't like it, perhaps like a riding crop, you have the opportunity to try it in new ways, and you may find you love it. Sensation play takes the ability to explore our bodies, get our bodies actively involved in our experiences and creativity and play all involved in an intimate/sexual/kinky encounter. So, if you have never tried sensation play, I heavily encourage you to give it a try.
#2 Building your Toy Box
Let's talk textures, temperatures, and tie-downs. When creating your toolkit for sensation play, a great place to start is with things you already know you like. For example, if you know you love certain smells, tastes, or types of touches. Also, it can be fun to go to an adult store and peruse which items catch your fancy. For those on a budget, or beginners to sensation play, it's important to remember that it doesn't have to be expensive. Many times you can start with things you have at home. A scarf as a blindfold, forks can be used for scratches, cooking utensils for impact implements, ice cubes for temperature play, or warming massage gloves, feather dusters, mirrors, building a sex playlist or finding audio erotics, lighting a candle, or using essential oils for smell (please don't use regular candles for wax play, that is not their intended purpose and you could get burned), etc. Sensation play comes in so many shapes and forms, and kink being customizable, it can be as simple or complex as you want to make it.
This is another excellent opportunity to do a Yes, No, Maybe list or a BDSM test if you aren't sure of where to start or your interests. My absolute favorite Yes, No, Maybe list comes from Bex Talks Sex: http://www.bextalkssex.com/yes-no-maybe/ because it covers such a wide range of topics includes an option to put if it's for top or bottom and covers a vast range of topics, including language and so much more.
#3 Sensual Touch
Now sensation play is all about connecting to our bodies during intimacy. Another great tool to connect to our bodies and a helpful tool for those who are partnered is sensual touch exercises. These stem from Masters and Johnson sensate focus exercises, which were created to help couples struggling to achieve orgasm in the bedroom. Sensual touch exercises take the focus off of orgasm and emphasize mindfulness, intimacy, and communication, and very much fall under the umbrella of sensation play.
While there is a curriculum to follow with these exercises, particularly for those experiencing struggles with their sexual intimacy in the bedroom, and the curriculum should be followed for those folks, these exercises can be added into any relationship or dynamic. Sensual touch exercises are beneficial when perhaps penetration isn't possible, such as after the birth of a child, when there are medical concerns or surgeries, times of immense stress, and more. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out.
#4 Slow Down
Jumping off sensual touch exercises and before moving into tantric breathing exercises, I want to remind everyone to slow down. This goes for these exercises; this goes for solo play and partnered play. Taking the time to reconnect with ourselves, our partners and our bodies is becoming a lost art. Thanks to mindfulness techniques, this is becoming part of the conversation again, and that's a beautiful thing. So often, though, even when we think we're slowing down and taking the time, we aren't. Remember, foreplay should last 20-40 minutes for a vulva-owning partner to become fully aroused. It can take a vulva-owning individual upwards of 30 minutes to achieve orgasm at times. This is why slowing down and taking the time to connect with ourselves and be mindful in our intimate lives is so important.
I challenge you to create a mindfulness practice or routine to switch your brain from the day-to-day tasks and to-dos and into a sensual mindset. There needs to be a bit of a turn-off of our higher functioning brain to allow us to relax into our bodies and the sensations we are about to experience. Creating a routine or mantra leading into intimacy, whether with yourself or your partner(s), can help to flip that switch in your brain. It can be as simple as lighting a candle, turning down the lights, turning on your sexy times' playlist, and then intentionally undressing. Perhaps instead, you create a mantra that you say to yourself, something along the lines of "My busy mind is quieting. My sensual mind is awakening. I am open to experiencing pleasure. I am opening myself up to connecting with my body and luxuriating in my pleasure." Of course, this can be adjusted to whatever feels suitable for you.
#5 Tantric breathing exercises
Tantra is still an area I am learning and growing in. It was born from eastern meditation traditions and practices. While the west has emphasized more on tantra as a sexual practice, there truly is so much more to it than that, and I heavily encourage everyone to look into learning more about it.
With that being said, it can be a tool to use to enhance your connection to yourself, your body, and your partner. Listed above are several sites with guided practices to lead you through breathing practices. As someone who has tried them myself, I will say that they enhance the experience and help to slow your mind into the present moment. It also can help activities after to feel even more intense, as the breathing exercises can help increase body flow and oxygenation of the blood.