Sensate Body Focus was developed by pioneering sex researchers, Dr William Masters and Virginia Johnson and was originally designed to help lovers overcome challenges such as performance anxiety, lack of desire, erectile dysfunction, rapid ejaculation and lack of orgasm. Challenges aside, Sensate Focus is now used as a powerful practice that encourages a deeper connection and intimacy between lovers.
Sensate Focus exercises encourage lovers to slow down and pay attention to the sensations felt when stimulated. Sounds easy, right? Reality is, most of us create busy lives and are often too caught up in reaching orgasm (aka 'The Quickie') instead of slowing down and paying attention to the subtle touches and sensations we feel when being intimate and present with our lovers.
Sensate Focus is about exploring new patterns of pleasuring that do not always have to be sexual. The focused exercises take out the pressure to respond to your lover and instead encourage lovers to relax and receive, removing the experience of goal-oriented sex.
When pursuing Sensate Focus exercises, set aside at least 30 minutes with your lover. Begin by establishing ground rules, which might include the following:
- Determine who will be the first giver (partners take turns being the giver and receiver). Establish whether you or your partner want to be clothed, or naked.
- Choose a location where you will both feel comfortable and relaxed. If you wish, use oils (organic coconout oil is a favourite), lubricants (Sylk is perfect) or natural lotions.
- Communicate to the giver what feels good, and what does not. Communication is achieved by guiding the hand of the giver. Limit talking until after the exercise is complete.
Limit stroking and touching to areas of the body that are not sexually stimulating. For example, begin by focusing your touch on your lover’s face or hands. Spend 10 minutes ‘giving’ to your partner. Now allow your lover to do the same to you, fully focusing on the sensations of being touched by your lover and your reactions to it. Try to be as quiet as possible, so you don't take away from your awareness of physical sensations.
Touch, stroke and explore the sensual responses of the entire body, including the breasts and genitals, without intent to bring about lubrication and/or erection. Start by touching other parts of your lover’s body first, emphasising physical sensations, before gradually working your way to the genitals. Set boundaries as the receiver. Communicate to your lover where they can and can’t touch. Be specific.
This stage is all about mutual touching, making the interaction more natural in the touch exchange. Simultaneous touch also allows partners to focus more on each person’s body instead of paying attention to one’s own response. Couples should communicate what they enjoy and want sexually, without getting caught up in the goal of achieving orgasm.