Purpose: To sensitively explore each other’s body, learn touch prefer­ences, and broaden the range of pleasurable experiences. Suggested Time: 30 minutes or longer

Wear whatever is comfortable, whether it is loose clothing, under­wear, or no clothing at all. Being nude makes it easier to feel each other’s touch, but if you are concerned about the possibility of un­wanted sexual arousal, you may want to remain clothed. You may also want to increase comfort in other ways, such as bathing before the exercise, making sure the room is warm enough for you both, clipping your nails, applying lotion, and making sure you will not be interrupted.

Invite your partner to lie down on a comfortable surface on her back or stomach. Your goal is to lovingly touch your partner from head

to toe. Begin by exploring parts of your partner’s body that you do not automatically associate with sex. Exclude breasts and genitals for now. Touch in ways that feel pleasurable to you, taking time to become sensually aware of one area of your partner’s body before moving on to another. Notice the different textures of your partner’s body—hairy, smooth, hard, and soft. What places do you find most enjoyable to touch?

Touch your partner in ways that communicate different emotional feelings, such as playfulness, passion, and caring. Notice how your experience changes when you close your eyes compared to when you have them open. Focus on the sensations in your hands as you touch, and the stimulation coming into your other senses—what you hear, see, taste, or smell. Encourage your partner to tell you what she likes most and least. Ask for specific directions for how to make your touch more comfortable, then vary your touch pattern and pressure accordingly.

When you have finished, ask your partner to roll over so you can explore the other side of her body. When you and your partner are ready to stop, you may want to hold each other or sit and talk for a while, sharing what you both enjoyed and learned from the experi­ence.

Switch roles so that your partner is the one exploring your body sensually. When you are being touched, find a breathing pattern that enables you to remain relaxed. You can deepen your breath­ing and sensual experience by consciously softening the muscles in your chest and abdomen. Stay present and aware of the different sensations you experience as different parts of your body are being touched. Put your consciousness in the part of your body that is being touched, noticing what types of touch you enjoy most. Speak up and give directions for how your partner can vary the touch to be more comfortable and enjoyable for you. Be aware of the differ­ent positive feelings that are being communicated by your partner through touch.

Receiving touch from a partner can be exhilarating because it is random and unpredictable. Enjoy the anticipation and sense of

being surprised. If thoughts or fantasies of porn are triggered and intrude at any time during the exercise, let your partner know what you are experiencing. Then make any necessary adjustments to re­duce the trigger potential, and resume participation in the exercise when you feel able to remain relaxed and tuned into the touching again.

Variations:

1. You and your partner may also want to explore sensually touching each other’s bodies at the same time. You can start by hugging or lying next to each other. You may want to play a follow the leader kind of game in which one person touches the other’s body in a certain place and way, and the other person touches back in the same place and way. Relax your breathing and pay attention to your partner’s breathing as well. Gaze with affection into each other’s eyes and smile. Attune your movements to those of your partner. This mutually satisfying and synchronized pleasuring is a way that you and your partner can deepen your sense of connection.

2. Include breasts and genitals in the sensual pleasuring. When you do this, make sure that you and your partner treat these more sexually associated body parts with the same goals in mind as you did the other "nonsexual" parts of the body. Again, stay relaxed, breathe slowly and deeply, and focus on the sensual pleasure of touching and being touched radiating throughout your body. When including areas of the body such as the breasts, nipples, genitals, and groin area, be aware that the skin tissues in these parts of the body are sensitive and may benefit from a more gentle touch.

Becoming sexually aroused during the exercise can happen natu­rally, but if that happens don’t conclude that you must move into overt sexual activity. Reactions such as erections and other kinds of tissue engorgement are normal responses to intimate touch that you can learn to appreciate as part of the overall sensual experience.

Your ability to appreciate and become adept at leisurely, full-body sensual sharing takes time to develop. It can be a good idea to practice the “Sensual Pleasuring” exercise regularly for several weeks. The advanced touch and communication skills you develop through this exercise will ultimately enrich your sexual experiences. Exploring sensual touch with a partner teaches you to touch more creatively and personally. You learn to express more of yourself with your partner and enjoy the uniqueness and caring of your partner’s touch.

When it fits with your recovery, these new skills can be used to awaken your sexual energy and enhance your sexual experience. You can use these sensual pleasuring techniques as part of foreplay and sex, enabling you to experience sexual activity with a present and relaxed mind. Justin has seen benefits in changing his approach to touch and sex. “When I was into porn, sex was mechanical. I never paid attention to what I was doing and how different things felt. Now I’m always exploring what sen­sations feel good and are pleasurable and which ones are not.”