Enhancing Your Sensual Environment
In my last article, I showed you how to pay more attention to what is going on in your mind, especially in terms of judgmental thinking. In this article, I want to talk about becoming more mindful of your external environment. Your external environment includes everything in your immediate personal surroundings, from the interior of your car to the sensual environment of your bedroom. Unlike your thoughts and feelings which come and go on their own and are beyond your conscious control, you can control your behavior and your personal environment. You can decide how to act and how to manage your personal sexual environment. These can greatly impact your personal sexuality and sexual relationships.
A great way to increase your external mindfulness is to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating activities focus on two dimensions of the external environment, your personal eating behavior, and the context in which it occurs (your immediate physical environment). In other words, they look at how you eat and the circumstances surrounding your eating. I've used the next two exercises in my sex coaching practice because they are also excellent sensuality training activities.
External Mindfulness Training Exercise #1: The Sensuous Orange
Purpose: Paying attention to the present moment involves catching your mind when it shifts focus to the past or the future, and then redirecting your full attention back to your behavior, what you’re doing now. The following exercise uses mindful eating to help you become more mindful of your external environment and become more sensuous by focusing all five of your senses while peeling and eating an orange. The exercise has two parts.
Instructions Part 1: Shopping
1. Buy a navel orange. Choose an orange that is easy to peel.
2. Try to find one that is not “perfect” (perfectly round and perfectly orange).
3. Look for an orange that has a distinctive color with imperfections.
Instructions Part 2: Peeling and Eating
1. With your eyes closed, do the following things:
- pick up the orange and feel its weight.
- feel the shape of the orange.
- roll the orange around your face and neck and feel the temperature of the orange.
- put it up to your nose and smell it.
- roll it over your ears and hear it.
2. Now, open your eyes and do the following things:
- notice the size and shape of the orange.
- notice the color of the orange.
- notice the texture of the orange.
- notice any distinguishing characteristics of the orange (bruises, imperfections, etc.).
3. Now I want you to peel the orange by keeping it in one piece:
- make a small incision at the top of the orange with your fingernail or a knife.
- slowly peel the orange from the top to the bottom.
- notice what is going on in your mind and the orange as you peel the orange.
- break off a piece of the peel and twist it to get the oil.
- feel, smell, and taste the orange oil.
4. Now I want you to take one section of the orange and do the following:
- notice how the orange section is constructed.
- peel back a small section of the casing, the cellulose wrapper that keeps it together.
- take out one individual orange sperm.
- close your eyes, put it on your tongue, and pop it with your tongue.
5. Now I want you to close your eyes and eat the one section of the orange this way:
- nibble the orange section, don’t gulp it.
- slowly chew each small bite.
- slowly swallow each small bite.
- notice your thoughts and feelings as you eat the orange section.
6. Finish eating the orange.
7. Answer the following questions:
- How did your thoughts about eating an orange differ from actually eating it?
- What did you notice about the orange? Peeling it? Eating it?
- What new thing(s) did you learn about oranges?
The next exercise also involves mindful eating and takes the experience to the next sexual level by doing it in bed and using it as a prelude to more erotic activities with your partner.
External Mindfulness Training Exercise #2: Mindful Eating & Drinking in Bed
Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to help you become more mindful by stopping, observing, and being aware of one concrete activity you engage in daily; eating. Combining this with the location (on your bed) also makes it a sensuality-building activity. This is a two-part activity. Part one involves shopping. Part two involves mindful eating in bed.
Instructions Part 1: Shopping
1. Purchase the following items:
- a navel orange
- a pear
- an apple
- a bunch of red and green grapes
- two boxes of different crackers
- two different types of cheeses
- a bottle of red or white wine
2. Prepare the fruit, cheese, and crackers by sectioning the fruit, cutting pieces of the cheese, and putting some crackers on a big tray.
3. Pour two glasses of wine and bring them and the rest of the bottle to the bedside.
Instructions Part 2: Eating & Drinking in Bed
1. Choose a piece of fruit and eat it as you normally would (have your partner also do this).
2. Now choose another piece of fruit and do the following instead of just quickly eating it:
- Notice the size, shape, and color of the piece of fruit.
- Feel the texture, weight, temperature of the piece.
- Now close your eyes, slowly bring the piece of fruit to your nose, and smell it.
- Notice the aromas emanating from the fruit.
3. Now slowly bring the item to your ear and listen to it.
4. Notice any sounds it makes as you hold it to your ear.
5. With your eyes still closed, put the piece in your mouth and let it rest on your tongue for a while.
6. After a few moments, chew the item slowly.
7. Chew it at least ten times before swallowing it.
8. Repeat step two with each different item on your tray.
9. In between sampling the different items on your tray stop, take a sip of wine, and do the following:
- Notice the size, shape, and color of your wine glass with the wine in it.
- Feel the texture, weight, temperature of the glass as you hold it in your hand.
- Now close your eyes, slowly bring the glass to your nose, and smell it.
- Notice the aromas emanating from the wine.
- With your eyes still closed, take a sip of the wine and swirl it around your mouth but do not swallow it.
- Notice the taste, texture, and temperature of the wine.
10. Now swallow the wine and notice how it feels as it slides down your throat and reaches your stomach.
11. Continue to sip and experience the wine as you eat your fruit, cheese, and crackers.
12. Take turns feeding yourself and your partner.
13. Have your partner(s) close their eyes as you feed them individual pieces of fruit, cheese, and crackers.
14. Take your time and finish the food and drink at your own pace. You may use this as a prelude to making love or just as a fun snack time in bed.
15. Write down your thoughts, self-talk, mental images, and emotions related to thinking about, and then doing this activity.
You can change the foods chosen for this exercise to suit your food preferences and allergies. There are many different food and wine combinations. Pick one that works for you. Instead of peeling an orange, you might want to use a tangerine. If you are not a wine or alcohol drinker, you can substitute seltzer or another non-alcoholic beverage of choice.
In my next article, I’ll take your sexual mindfulness training to the next level and talk about mindful massage.