It is remarkable how reluctant so many people are to acknowledge that massage is sensual. Often people are naked and having oil rubbed all over their skin. How much more sensual can you get? The answer is a lot more. I’m not talking about foreplay. No one is going to have sex. I’m talking about feeling deeply into your body and it’s sensations. Often people go for massage and they disconnect even more than they do the rest of their lives. It’s not healthy. Massage is a great opportunity to connect the mind and soul back into the body. Feel into that point of contact. Breathe into your body.
Susan-Rachel Condon, teacher of infant massage, pre and post postnatal massage, birthing companion training, once while teaching a breast massage class at the swedish institute stated that “Just because something feels good doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it”. I would go further and say that we should do things that feel good. There is a healing power in pleasure. Even the highest sensations of birthing a baby for some people is a sensual experience. They ride the wave of sensation rather than being crushed under it. I’m not comparing my massage to the intensity or importance of giving birth but my work can be excruciating . Even in agony there is room for the sensual. I invite people to not retreat before pain and pleasure, but welcome them both into the body. Ariel, a somatic educator, talks about the benefits of this kind of presence and awareness.
“Some sessions involve bodywork where you learn to pay attention to your body through physical sensations. This enables you to move through fear, pain or conflict, and letting go of your ‘story’ of things. When you learn to work in this way, you find that you become at ease within intimacy, strong in vulnerability, authentic in your relationships and drama free in how you live your life.” -Ariel Daunay
After receiving her work I have felt the truth of her words. I don’t pretend to have her skill set but I do invite people to feel into their bodies, and possibly walk down this same road.
In 2005 I was having a rough time and wrote a little about my understanding of the sensual.
“A lot of people think the word sensual is a euphemism for sexual. This is completely understandable. It is the way we hear the word used most of the time. It is not how I use the word. I think good sex should be sensual but it is not always this way. A good sensual experience usually has nothing to do with sex. Sensuality is its own animal and I want to talk about it. I have played in the crashing waves of the ocean. I am not talking about the waves that fall on themselves, or the thin tongue of water that laps at the shore. I am talking about the kind of wave that makes sand out of stone. I have stood in this mortar along with the sharp rocks and shells and have felt the pestle of an entire ocean. It was a warm and sunny day with a sold, comfortable and clean wind. The water was bracing and the force of it could easily knock me down. The cold reached all the way through my body constricting and flushing all my capillaries washing not only my skin but the belly of all my muscles down to the bone. The sun softened and fed me pushing warmth back down into my chest as the water retreated. The foam was soft and the flurry of sand in the water was scouring. The jagged footing softened and opened my feet leaving me to walk home on what felt like tender sponges. Straining against the waves exercised my will and endurance completely. Laughing and yelling with my friends into the foaming roar opened my throat and belly, freeing and feeding my soul. This is what I mean by sensual. The sensual can be gentle like warm rain embracing me as I walk home. It can be the song in a friend’s voice as they welcome me. The deep deep rumble in the ground as a train courses beneath my feet is sensual if only I am willing to feel it. Some thing as simple as sunlight on my face or wind caressing my ears can be deeply satisfying in a very sensual way. Even my amateur meditation can be sensual. As my mind calms and the clutter of distraction clears I gain awareness. What I am aware of is myself. Just sitting can be very sensual. Some day I may feel something altogether different. When I pray I feel another part of me active and working. I don’t know what this is but to feel that part of me can also be sensual. My work is very sensual. I feel people. On a good day I try and feel them in the deepest sense of the word. There is no easy or simple way to tell someone this with out them thinking about sex. The world is full of hidden treasures and pleasures. More often these delicious experiences are right in front of us, in us and happening to us. All we need to do is notice them to harvest the enjoyment. There are sensations that we do not seek out because we would prefer ones more comfortable. Even these less than desirable experiences can be richly rewarding if we feel and embrace them. Today I am in aguish. I can feel it deep in my face and in my chest. It is in the back of my throat waiting to cry out. I feel it. It is stirring and provoking me. I feel productive and fertile. Anything might grow out of this place that I am in. When dawn does come as I know it must, I know how it will feel. The first rays of light will be like soft kisses. The sun will be warm and embracing. The sky will be bright and full of promise. The stillness in the air will be charged with the weight of the beauty that will unfold and which I will be powerless to resist. This is a good life. I thank you for it.” -John Ellsworth
I invite you to feel more. And if you want less, I invite you to ask for less. Everything is negotiable. It’s your session.