Sensate Focus

Sensate focus is the art of focusing on the senses. 

We often become so anxious or intent on achieving orgasm or performance that we don’t enjoy the full experience of sexual engagement. Not only does this mean losing out on much of the pleasure of sex, but it can prevent orgasm. Sensate focus exercises can help us let to go of inhibiting anxieties and intent and tune into the present.


The cardinal rule when you begin sensate focus exercises is that you are not trying to have an orgasm. Rather, the goal is to expand your awareness of sensation, without any other objective or pressure. Be completely in the moment.






Exercises for Developing Sensate Focus:


For Yourself

Hold your left foot in your hands. Feel the warmth and texture of your skin,  the weight of your touch, the shapes of your hand and foot. Are there areas  that ache, want to be touched? Are there areas that feel relaxed?


Begin to explore your foot with touch, focusing on the feeling of its contours and textures. Try touching in different ways; light, tremulous, firm with long stokes, etc., and notice how each touch feels. What do you enjoy? Massage any areas that feel tense, tired, or hungry for touch. Coordinate your breathing with your massage strokes.


You can touch with more than your hand; try using your elbow, hair, other foot, mouth, etc.


Allow yourself to express emotion through your touch.


Expand Your Range Patiently

Over a period of five days, expand this exercise to your whole body, including the genitals on the last day. Remember: stop before you have an orgasm. Orgasm is not your objective; sensate focus is.


With Partner Receptive

Repeat the exercise with a partner. The individual who touches concentrates on active giving; the individual whose foot is touched concentrates on passive receiving.


With Partner Directive

Now repeat the exercise with the individual who receives touch being as consistently directive as possible: clearly tell and show your partner which sensations feel pleasurable. How can their touch be made more pleasurable? Do you want deeper or lighter pressure, to be touched here or there, longer? Be clear about your desires, and take charge of getting as much pleasure as you can.


Switch roles.



 Sensation Map

A sensation map is a chart of your body’s erogenous sensitivity zones. It’s a great tool both for developing your self-knowledge and for increasing intimacy with your partner. You can learn a lot about yourself and each other doing this fun and enlightening exercise.



For this exercise you need:

-A large sheet of blank paper. Construction paper will do – anything you can lay out on the floor.

-A large mirror.

-A comfortable, private, well-lit place where you won’t be disturbed.


By Yourself

Draw your nude body on the paper. Draw your front and your back, using the mirror where you can’t see.


Starting with your feet and working to the top of your head, slowly touch your body and note which areas enjoy what kind of touch. You can rate the areas sensitivity to pleasure on a scale from 0 – 10. As you discover your sensitivities, map them on your drawing.


You can also use words, colors, and any other means of notation to describe your sensations.


Now study your map. Did you leave out any part of your body? If so, map it now.


With a Partner

Now your partner will draw you, and then touch you. You give them feedback on a scale of 0 – 10 on what feels pleasurable, and they’ll chart a map of your erogenous zones.


When you’re done, switch roles.


Take time afterward to talk  about what you’ve learned.


Tuning In to Your Senses



We long for touch from the moment we’re born. Our senses respond to the language of touch long before we develop verbal expression. Children who are not touched often lack developmental social adjustments that are essential to their wellbeing.

Touching elicits and expresses emotion. Touch grounds us in our body and soul.


One of the main reasons relationships fail is the inability to share meaningful touch.


Exercise: Touching with Your Fingertips

Sit across from your partner. Feel the air between you.

Reach out your hands. Feel the energy in your hands and in the space between your fingertips.

Then open your senses to receive touch, connecting at the very tips of your fingers. Let one partners hands move down the others fingers, palms, wrists, inner and outer arms, elbows and inner crook, biceps, triceps, shoulders.

Paint with your fingertips. Imbue your touch with different physical qualities. Respond with touch to the  different shapes and textures you feel. Stay attuned to your partners’ feelings.

 Switch roles.

Exercise: Touching with the Whole Body

Repeat the Touching exercise with your whole body – caress your partner with your face, legs, back, soles of feet, backs of hands, eyelashes, breasts, etc. Be attuned to each other.

When you’ve finished, share with each other what this felt like.

You can explore touching yourself and each other with different textures; feathers*, flowers, silk: let your imagination roam!

  my girlfriend, I had no idea why she was so unfulfilled with me; as far as I knew, getting an erection was all sex was about. What else wppppp

Spoken Words:


Jean-Louis: A series of experiences brought us emotionally closer, and with her courage in showing me her feelings through passionate and tender touching, I began to understand that touch is a form of communication I had never learned. It was difficult for me to open up; I had no idea this level of sensation and vulnerability existed. Eventually, I craved this intimacy more than anything.


For me, the real importance of touch is in conveying emotion. That’s always what I look for; what touch expresses, conveys, reveals. It’s a world of emotion beyond words.”



Sela: "I remember being touched very lovingly and naturally by my parents as a baby. Then when I was around five, they stopped showing me any physical affection. I was bereft and very jarred by their sudden physical distance. They said "you're grown up now" when I tried to hug or touch them. So it seemed that being an adult meant not touching or showing feeling through physical contact.

I became very self-conscious and restricted about touch, almost hyper-conscious about it. Then it became second nature to avoid it and I didn't think about it anymore until I had children of my own. I had to really work not to repress their affectionate natures in the same manner that I was repressed, but I'm so happy we're all connected by easy affection, and that they're comfortable being themselves. My husband also noticed my greater physical ease and comfort and it's made our relationship better, warmer, closer."




* Synthetic feathers, please. Respect our fellow beings.


Because as children we often learn not to express our sexuality openly, one of the first things we do when we masturbate is repress sexual sounds in order to hide what we’re doing from the adult world. This is unfortunate, because sound is a natural part of our sexuality, and its repression often decreases or even cuts off sexual pleasure. Sex isn’t neat, clean or tidy - it’s joyously free of these things!

If you’ve experienced verbal repression, allowing yourself to make sounds during sex means giving yourself loving permission to verbalize whatever natural sounds come up. Take back your power to express yourself! 
If you’ve suppressed the natural impulse to verbalize for so long that it’s become your second nature to withhold verbal expression, don’t be discouraged. Try consciously making sounds as you move and respond to sexual stimulation. If this feels forced or unauthentic at first, don’t let that deter you; instead, exaggerate the sounds. If you stay with it, your sounds may gradually become more organic, and open up new dimensions in your erotic experience. See Sound.


guy profile serious nose

Smell preferences are very individual and very personal. It is not one of the senses that modern society encourages developing – after all, what are you smelling when you’re watching television or using your computer – but smell is pivotal to sexual response. 

What parts of your body to you enjoy smelling? Are you comfortable after a day without washing, or to you prefer your body smelling clean? Do you like the scent of fresh sweat? Your breath when it’s minty or sweet? 

Do you enjoy your partners smell? Can you talk openly about your responses to each other's smells comfortably?

Try smelling the natural secretions of your genitals. Do you like these secretions after you’ve washed, or when they’ve marinated on your body awhile? Do different foods affect your body smells? 

What other smells touch off your erotic feelings - smells you associate with memories, smells that excite your pleasure centers, uplift or sensually relax you? As you self-pleasure, open yourself to this rich source of stimulation. 


Mirror Exercise:

Allow yourself to visually cherish your body as you touch yourself in front of a full mirror. Lie down if you’re more comfortable that way. As you explore your body, watch your sexual response build and see how intense, involved and beautiful you look.  

Look at your genitals in a hand mirror. Study the fabulous colors, textures and shapes. Countless magnificent poems, sonnets, works of art and sculpture and photography are dedicated to the beauty of the human genitals, and yours belong in the pantheon!  

Try looking at different kinds of erotic art and photographs. Put on an erotic movie or a snippet from one of your favorite sex or love scenes in a film, and let them turn on your visual imagination. 


Taste is absolutely primary to sex, and it’s another sensory factor that we tend to under-address. Just as you want to enjoy your lovers’ tastes, you should feel comfortable and confident about your own taste. You can try tasting your genital secretions: do you like your taste more after you wash, or when you haven’t washed for a day?

Do you like the taste of your skin, your sweat, your breath? What factors are present when you like your tastes, and when you don’t? What you eat, your state of health, and hygiene are the main factors influencing the taste of your genitals, skin, and mouth.

 If you want to change these factors, you can adjust your eating habits, life-style, and hygiene routine accordingly. Light, plant based foods tend to give the body and its’ secretions a lighter smell. Applying a consistent approach to healthy living on all levels will improve your health and body odor, and simple hygienic habits such as washing your genitals regularly, brushing your teeth, and using a natural mouthwash will alter your body tastes.


If basic hygienic care does not improve your body tastes, then there may be a medical cause that should be investigated. Inform your doctor of unusual or unpleasant body odors.


What other tastes do you find sensually arousing? Do you enjoy the flavor of minty chocolate melting in your mouth, or warm maple syrup? Maybe spicy or salty flavors excite your senses?  You can add the exploration of different tastes to your erotic palate.

What about your partners body, breath, genitals, skin? Can you talk comfortably about your responses to each others smells together?  


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