Is there something lacking in your sex life? Are you looking for something to bring you closer together, enhance intimacy, and heighten your sexual experience? Are you willing to dedicate 30-60 minutes 2-3 times a week over a 6 week period to get there? If so, then take the Sensate Focus challenge and rediscover one another, and yourself!
Sensate Focus Exercises were created by Doctors William Masters and Virginia Johnson, a husband and wife team that pioneered sex therapy and research in its earliest days. The exercises have become widely and successfully used during sex therapy treatments, with promising results. This does not mean to say, however, that these exercises are restricted only to couples in therapy; in fact, they serve as a great avenue for any couple to enhance their sexual experience and are a nice complement (or alternative) to Sensual Massage or Tantric Sex that we have discussed in other articles.
What are Sensate Focus Exercises?
Sensate focus exercises are a four stage series of specific exercises for couples, built upon the principle of using touch and focusing on the subsequent sensations to improve both communication and sexual pleasure. The exercises focus on sensual touch and exploration of the body, avoiding sexual organs during the massage exercises - and without intercourse. The idea is to discover the sexual sensations created by non-sexual, but very sensual, touch of every body part. Not only has this series of activities been proven to improve the sexual experience, but also to remedy issues such as Premature Ejaculation and lack of orgasm.
If you decide to do this in therapy, your practitioner will go over how they would like you to prepare. If you are trying this from home, setting the mood can help you pave the way to a successful experience. First, choose a comfortable location such as a warm bedroom, a relaxed living room, or anyplace you decide to be peaceful and free of distractions. Lower the lighting, or use candles. Play soft music. Create a comfortable base to perform the exercises, using lots of pillows and blankets for support and comfort. Have on hand any oils or lotions you may wish to use. Decide how you and your partner will dress – lightly clothed, fully naked, or otherwise. Turn off the television, computers, phones and any other electronic devices that could be distracting. Lock the door, put the dog out, and choose your timing appropriately to make sure that roommates or children are not going to interrupt you and your partner during your sessions.
The Stages: I – IV
While Sensate Exercises are usually customized for each couple during therapy, they usually follow four general steps or stages.
- STAGE I (Weeks 1-2): Choose who will begin as the 'giver' and as the 'receiver' and if you prefer to be partially clothed or fully naked. One partner begins touching and Sensually Massaging the other, starting with the face and head and working down the front and back all the way to the toes. The breasts and genital areas should not be touched during this stage. Each partner spends about 30 minutes. When in the role of the giver each partner should touch the other in the way that feels good to them. The receiver should try to relax and focus on what feels good and what does not feel so good for discussion once the session has ended.
- STAGE II (Weeks 2-3): Here we repeat stage I. However, this time the receiver directs the giver, letting him or her know what feels good, and what does not feel so good, during the touching/massaging. The breasts and pelvic areas can be touched briefly, but with no intent to bring about erection or vaginal lubrication.
- STAGE III (Weeks 3-4): This stage is a continuation of STAGE II, but now includes the option to touch and explore the breasts and genitals more thoroughly, although not exclusively and without penetration. Orgasm is not the goal, nor should it be reached. As in STAGE II, the receiver directs the giver, letting him or her know what feels good and what does not feel so good, during the touching/massaging.
- STAGE IV (Weeks 4-6): During this final stage, the couple is allowed to engage in mutual touching and Sexual Massage using what they have learned from one another and themselves. This stage can include Intercourse, and Orgasm if desired.
Tips for a Successful Experience and Outcome:
Master each stage before progressing to the next.
Remember that genitals and breasts are a no-go until at least stage II.
The giver will learn from the receiver as the receiver physically controls the touch of the giver; however both partners will learn from the experience.
The giver should use their non-dominant hand (that is, the hand they don't write with).
Do not rush, choose a time where you are not compromised and are free of distractions or other obligations.
Do not under ANY circumstances engage in sexual intercourse during or following the exercises until at least stage IV.
Lubricants can be very helpful; body massage oil is useful during stages I and II of the exercises, while a water-based or silicone option can be helpful during stages III and IV – especially if Sex Toys are used.
Refrain from talking until after you have completed the exercises until at least stage II. Direction should be in the form of guidance via the receivers hand over the givers hand.
Communicate; AFTER you have completed the exercise, tell your partner what felt good and what did not.
These exercises are a great learning experience and communication booster for ANY couple; try them out and see what they can do for YOU ... ENJOY!