Purpose: To increase awareness of your senses, experiment with sensory stimulation, discover what kind of sensory experienc­es you like, and remain relaxed and present during sensory arousal.

Suggested Time: 10 to 20 minutes

Collect a variety of small, preferably natural objects, such as rocks, seashells, spices, fabric of different textures, pine cones, fresh flow­ers, and fruit. Choose objects that you find interesting or pleasurable to look at, touch, smell, listen to, or taste. Place the objects in a bowl or on a table near you.

Sit comfortably, relax and breathe slowly. Focus for a few minutes on your breathing. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present and your breathing. When you are ready, reach for an object and spend a few minutes exploring it. Look at it closely first, notic­ing patterns, color, and texture. Then close your eyes and hold it up to your ear and rub it or shake it. What sound does it make? Is the sound pleasurable? Next, put the object under your nose and smell it. Is it musky or sweet, and does the smell evoke any memories? (Smell is highly connected to memory.) Now try rubbing it against the inside of your arm or on your cheek. Is it soft or hard, smooth or textured? Does the feel of it raise goose bumps or tickle? Then touch your tongue to the object, if you wish (as long as it is safe to do so), to discover if it has a taste. Have fun and don’t judge your experience.

When you’re done with the first object, explore the rest of the items, examining each one slowly and remaining relaxed and fo­cused throughout the process. After you’ve explored each object, reflect on your experience. Which objects intrigued you? Which of your senses did you tend to rely on most? Which combination of ob­ject and sense provided a novel and enjoyable experience?

Variations:

1. Repeat this exercise with an entirely different set of objects, or as you encounter things throughout your day, such as a soft T-shirt, a leaf on a plant, or the food you eat.

2. Explore a part of your body, such as your hand or foot, in the same relaxed and curious way. Pay attention to the sensations you experience through your fingertips as well as the sensations you experience when you shift your consciousness to be inside the hand or foot you are touching, aware of what it feels like to receive touch. In contrast to touching objects, human touch offers two pathways to pleasure—the experience of touching as well as being touched.

The “Sensory Exploration” exercise helps develop an attitude of cu­riosity, appreciation, and enjoyment when interacting with something at a sensual level. This attitude can later be applied when relating with a lover, allowing you to more consciously explore and appreciate on multi­ple levels the joy and pleasure of sensually connecting with your partner. And, when lovers share a strong sensual connection they often feel closer to each other emotionally, sexually, and spiritually.