These three words all point in the same direction. They conjure up thoughts of physical pleasure certainly, but they also point toward something we all desire: connection. Each word speaks to different aspects of the pleasure and connection that we long to share with another living breathing, beautiful being.
I used to lump these three words into the same boat, sometimes using them interchangeably. As I began exploring and teaching about intimacy, I felt that I needed to be more specific about how I was using them. To create, at least for myself, a working definition. When someone said that they were intimate with another person, I always assumed that meant that they had had sex, but are sexuality and intimacy the same connection? And how does sensuality fit in to this wonderful threesome?
To my mind, intimacy, sensuality and sexuality are like three separate rooms. Rooms that butt up against each other. Rooms without doors to separate them entirely so that the people that visit these rooms can move quickly and easily from one pleasure space to another.
It wasn’t until an unusual architect came to see me that I was called to step into these rooms of pleasure and connection. No longer an abstract concept, I stepped my metaphor in 3 dimensions!
Patrick, the architect, walks into my apartment with eyes wide with curiosity. In his early 40’s, Patrick’s thick glasses magnify his light blue eyes as wisps of disheveled auburn hair billow from his head. He looks like a cross between Andy Warhol and a great tufted owl. By the time he enters the living room, I can tell that there’s something special about him.
First of all, I quickly catch on that Patrick is having a mad crush…on my apartment. He ‘just has to tell me’ about the history and design of my building. I'm game. Having lived in this older unit for ten years, I am genuinely interested to learn about the design details of my space. He speaks about the high crown moldings and mid-century Spanish accents. He’s so focused I almost expect him to start taking notes.
When he finally joins me on the couch, Patrick is distracted. I can’t tell if he’s apprehensive about our session or just more interested in my apartment. When I ask him to tell me about the inspiration for his visit he shares “I need intimacy. I’m a sensual person but I never get touched. I need sex but I don’t know how intimacy happens.”
“Wow. There’s a lot in that request." I begin. "Intimacy, sensuality and sexuality.” “The heart of my practice is about intimacy but we can’t get to intimacy without moving through sensuality and sexuality as well.” When I look at Patrick, his owl eyes narrow on to me as though I were a mouse moving in the brush.
“So, let’s begin today by entering into sensuality…” As I lay out the structure for our session, I can tell that Patrick is not following my game plan. His eyes begin to drift around the room again.
In an effort to get his attention, I jump in with my architecture metaphor. “OK…imagine intimacy, sensuality and sexuality are like these three rooms in this apartment.” His owl head rotates slowly around the apartment. From where we are seated on the sofa in the living room, we can easily see into the two other rooms to the right and left through high open archways.
Patrick is clearly aching to explore my space. In a moment of inspiration, I think why not just be literal about it? “Let’s use these three rooms to explore. Intimacy in one room, sensuality in another and sexuality through there.”
Once we are both standing, I quickly realize how cool this experiment might just be.
My living room becomes the ‘sensuality room.’ And come to think of it, it is a very sensual room. There are lots of vibrantly colorful art pieces hanging on jade green walls. Oversized plants sprout from pots in every corner. There are thick rugs and velour cushions. The sofa is the only piece of furniture so there is plenty of space to dance, stretch and move around.
To the left, there is a large walk-in closet that I’ve painted a light blue and transformed into a meditation sanctuary. Patrick walks over and peers inside. “This then is the intimacy room?” he asks. The afternoon sunlight is warming the quiet nook. It smells sweetly of incense. My meditation cushion is a soft futon covered with a lamb fleece. The altar is decorated with fresh flowers. An abalone shell with dried white sage sits next to a small icon of Shiva. A lit candle from my morning meditation still flickers.
I lead Patrick across the living room to my bedroom. Painted a deep red, the room is mostly taken up with a king sized bed. “This, then would be the sexuality room. Sexuality is about raising sexual energy. Whenever we stimulate our genitals and build toward orgasm, we are in the sexuality room.” Patrick’s owl eyes go wide. He hangs back unsure exactly what I’m suggesting in the moment. He peers into the bedroom warily.
When we are ready to begin, Patrick walks out into the hallway and waits for me there. When I ask him where he’s going, he reminds me that I said that we are going to ‘enter into sensuality’. His literal way of thinking is so different from mine. “Great! Let’s do that,” I say with a smile. It is the impeccable beginning of our journey through the 3D world of intimacy, sensuality and sexuality.
We enter and the afternoon sunlight warms our skin. Our bare feet sink into the plush carpet. Patrick looks around at the three rooms and then back at me with a now what expression on his face.
“The first thing we are going to do is explore sensuality here in the ‘sensuality room’ for twenty minutes. Focusing on sensuality it to focus on the senses. On touch and sound and smell, the feeling of your body moving through space. Just relax your body, breathe deeply and I’ll guide you.”
Over the next twenty minutes, Patrick and I slowly travel around the ‘sensuality room’ in a moving meditation I call Leading Your Lover. Patrick closes his eyes. I step in and challenge myself to move his body in an ever changing ways. I turn him with an embrace. I lift his hand with my head. I nudge him with my hip until he takes a step. Giving his curious mind a steady flow of sensual stimulation. In between, I leave Patrick to meditate on the sensual landscape, reminding him every so often to return his attention to his body so his mind doesn’t carry him away.
As we wander, I slowly remove Patrick’s glasses and eventually all of his clothing, leaving him for moments in vulnerable states of undress. I remove my own clothes and move into the darkness with him. Patrick moves stiffly at first but eventually the movement evolves into a slow motion dance of lava. We circle the sofa island until our entwining bodies lazily pour over the cushions and then up and over the back of the couch.
The smell of incense suddenly rises to our noses and the meditation cushion is springy beneath our feet. We’ve wandered into the intimacy room. Intimacy is like a meditation room because intimacy is also a spiritual space. Patrick and I stop and breathe together. Beyond the physical touch is a shift in our shared consciousness. Moving our bodies together has moved our egos out of the way. Patrick and I have arrived together in an embodied state of spiritual enlightenment. We have found peace in each other. We have given each other gift of moving beyond fear. Our synchronized breathing binds us to one another and to the present moment effortlessly.
Carrying intimacy between us, we continue moving. Other spaces are calling. We pass once again through the 'sensuality room.' The passage into the 'sexuality room' feels like we are drawing ever closer to a fire. As we get closer, we pass through a beam of heat from a powerful space heater glowing red by the entrance. The heat calls out to our sensual dance like a mermaid with the invitation of something magically irresistible.
Patrick has a cone-shaped cock and it is sticking straight out from his fire red bush. I wrap my hand around it as I lead him across the threshold into the sexuality room. Sweating now from the heat, our touch narrows to our cocks and nipples. Moving in behind me, Patrick reaches around and starts to stroke my shaft with both hands. Erotic energy rises quickly between us.
We dive head first into the familiar erotic dance of building toward orgasm and just when it seems Patrick is approaching a crescendo, I quickly lead him back into the living room and return to the creative sensual exploration of his body. Sexuality brings energy in our bodies, sensuality integrates that energy throughout our bodies. A few seconds later the intimacy room wraps around us again and we breathe once more into our deepening spiritual connection.
Patrick and I make the journey between three rooms again and again until they begin to blur and cease to matter. Intimacy, sensuality and sexuality start happening everywhere simultaneously. The walls fall away and Patrick and start firing on all cylinders. Our bodies, minds and spirits transport us in another dimension of pleasure and connection. On that sunny afternoon, we journey together until the we emerge creamy and panting on the other side.
Without a spoken word between us, Patrick and I find our way back to the quiet calm of the intimacy room. The sun is shining in and birdsong floats in on the breeze. We lie down in the soft sunbeam and rest quietly in one another’s arms. I am at peace with this stranger, this new friend. I have no idea what time it is. I am simply here now in this intimate stillness. Patrick and I rest together, holding each other gently for an eternal moment.
Eventually, Patrick opens his eyes. Without his glasses, I wonder what he can see. His gaze wanders around the small space until he finally looks at me. “So…this is intimacy in the intimacy room,” he says dreamily. “Yes,” I say. “What do you think?” I ask.
He opens his mouth to speak and then closes it again. He takes a deep breath and lets out a deep sigh. Wrapping himself more closely around me he whispers “I don’t think I’m thinking anything at all, but I love your apartment.”