We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.

– Audre Lorde

When I am socializing I am “off the clock.” I am not wearing my psychologist hat and analyzing you (at least not any more than the average person does). But these days I have occasionally turned gatherings with friends or colleagues into opportunities to sneak in a little professional research.

These gatherings have been all women, or a mix of men and women. Some of the guests are in partnered relationships, some of them are not. Some of them are long married, some of them newly single, some of them arrive single but leave with a prospective mate by the end of the night! Every type of relationship status or lack thereof is fair game with my research.

I wait until the wine has been flowing and the conversation feels more spirited.

Then I explain that I’m working on a book. And I pose this question:

What has been your most sensual moment?

More often than not, this question is first met with blank stares.

While there have been those folks who dive right in, many people tell me they don’t know what I mean, and can I explain the question further? For some, they know exactly what I’m asking but it feels too private. For others, they need time to brush off the cobwebs in their mind and dive into old memories.

{What can I say, I’m used to asking probing questions that make people squirm a bit. But please don’t be afraid the next time I invite you over.}

I explain to my guests that ‘sensual moment’ is defined as an experience in which you felt heightened awareness of one or all of your senses and this led you to feel particularly present, awake and alive. I remind them that sensual does not necessarily mean sexual, although it can include their sexiest of moments if they so choose.

On a recent night that included men and women from fields ranging from producer to dentist to college professor, these are the themes I heard:

connection to another

current lover

young love

first love










collective grief










hot springs

The question conjures up an array of images and moments. For some the question feels confrontational, for others it feels nostalgic. For everyone who lets themselves ‘go there,’ it feels personal. They are recalling a moment that touched their heart and their livelihood.

I have discovered that many need clarification on what it means to be sensual for two reasons: (1) We are disconnected from our sensual self. The modern day sensuality-killer is the computer, phone and tv screen, after all; (b) We live in a culture that blurs the lines between sensual and sexual. Specifically, we live in a culture that skips over the sensual on its quest for the sexual.

I understand the confusion. As a busybody myself, I’ve had phases in which I couldn’t be bothered to slow down and sense my way through life, let alone notice the food I just wolfed down. Which is why I’m writing a book on sensuality as a portal to pleasure. If we are disconnected from our sensuality we are disconnected from pleasure. Many deprive or deny themselves pleasure, which is a basic human right, because they don’t feel they deserve it. Or they chase pleasure down all the wrong paths, looking for it from things outside of themselves. And when we look for pleasure from other people or other things, without knowing how to be sensual within ourselves first, we tend to get overly attached or seek sexuality from a misdirected place.

These are complicated, nuanced topics. Curious to learn more? Until its published I’ll continue to share segments of my book here on my blog. The title of the book is The Pleasure Is All Mine: Your Path to a Sensual Life. I would love to hear what your most sensual moment has been, should you decide to contribute to scientific research! Anything shared will be confidential.

For now, begin your own experiential process of sensuality and see what pleasures you find. Start by opening your eyes to the acid green lushness of the leaves this spring. Smell the lilacs draping off the bushes. Hear the echo of the grasshoppers at night. Let your bare feet touch the dewey grass. Feel the wind in your hair. Close your eyes as you take your first bite of food. Reunite with the little sensual moments around you.

And begin to feel at home in your body.