Sensual Massage


The basic loving massage we’ve already explored and practiced is the core, but we can go to deeper levels of intimacy through massage. Sensual massage and erotic massage are the pathways to those deeper levels.

What does that mean? There are two kinds of sensation that we feel. There is exteroception, our sensation of our encounter with the outside-our-body world and interoception, our awareness of our insides. For example, if your partner is massaging your shoulder, you can feel her hand, its warmth and strength, the strokes. That is exteroception. But, at another level, you also feel your own muscles and nerve endings. That is interoception, also sometimes called proprioception.

Why is this important? It explains the mind-body connection which is so valuable. Very often, we store and trigger emotions through interoception. Nowhere is this awareness more important than in massage. For long years, some therapists would talk about storing emotions in our bodies. Nowhere more obvious than how when we are stressed or angry and we wind up with sore shoulder muscles. More traditional psychotherapists used to reject the notion, but as we have learned, there really is a phenomenon to which the somatic therapists were pointing.

Sensual massage goes beyond kneading muscles to sensitively touching our partner’s interoceptive nerves. As we simply hold another person, the partner, often outside direct awareness, finds comfort and perhaps joy in that touch. This is the basis for sensual massage.

We begin with regular massage, focused on exteroception, but we transition into gentle pressures, releasing good sensations, positive triggers of interoceptive nerves. Often there is a bonding in this. The massager and the massagee feel an enhanced sense of belonging to each other; not sexual, but just an awareness of a strong connection. This principle can be applied, for example, between a father and his child, between a mother and daughter or son. As the massage progresses, each feels closer to the other. (In fact, the best neo-natal medical practitioners are encouraging just this kind of bonding.)

Sometimes it is the child giving the massage. It is a way for the child to feel close and valued. In our society, we have become very sensitized to the possibility of incest; it is difficult to get beyond that fear, but given the value of sensual massage, we really would do well to carefully set aside any sense of sexuality and free ourselves to both give and receive sensual massage.

Of course, we normally, in sensual massage, avoid the most common erogenous areas, especially the genitals and, depending on the person, the breast nipples, both usually erogenous. (If there are repeated “accidents”, that may be a reason to terminate the massage and discuss the problem. There may be a deeper trust issue, a violation of the agreement; don’t sweep it under the proverbial rug.)

Even with a love partner, sex is not the purpose of sensual massage. We may get there and move into erotic massage with a partner, but it is not the focus, bonding is.

All sensual strokes are generally done with more gentleness than in basic loving massage. We are not trying to loosen muscles but to trigger the interoceptive nerve endings of the body. Stimulating the nerves in the abdomen or in the lower back takes a more focused touch. (There is s a whole interoceptive nervous pathway.)

Both the giver and receiver must clear their minds of other thinking and be gently aware of the receiver’s interoceptive system of nerves and sensations. That is why sensual massage is rarely done during a first massage. You need to have at least one or two previous massages to be ready to let go of thoughts. “What am I supposed to do besides lie here?” “Should I talk?” “It feels strange to have someone’s hands touching my body.” “What if I fart?” “What does she think of my flabby stomach?” “I can’t stop thinking sexual thoughts.” “What would my Momma say?”

It takes most people at least a couple experiences of massage with a partner to become relaxed enough to benefit from sensual massage.

Gently give and gently receive. Do not intentionally touch erogenous areas—and if you accidentally do, simply move on without discussing it and taking focus away from sensuality.

To sum up. Begin with basic loving massage. Then deep but gentle touch. Mentally focus on the interoceptive nerves.  Quiet the thoughts.

Basic Loving Massage

Learning to be a professional massage therapist requires many hours of training and practice, memorization of anatomy charts and much more. But doing massage for your lover or even for your child or friend need not really be that complicated. Every gentle massage stroke can help loosen muscles and relax the person’s body.

Naturally, the more you learn the better, but I’m troubled by the number of folk who are reluctant because they’ve been intimidated by the mystique of massage. Learning a couple of basic strokes can’t hurt, but even just a vigorous rubbing or kneading is a worthwhile start.

When we move into sensual and erotic massage, there are a few more things to learn. But even those are not complicated and they quickly make sense.

Those are the main three kinds of massage that lovers do. Basic loving massage is a great gift when your friend or loved one comes home from a hard day at work. Sensual massage is a next step when you want to be close and even get the tingle of loving touch, but you are not really, for whatever reason, ready to be downright sexual. Erotic massage doesn’t have to end with orgasm, but it very often does, for either or both persons.

Let’s start with basic massage. 

The only tools needed are massage oil and an oil proof blanket or sheet. It needs to be soft, but also not soak oil through and into whatever it is resting upon.  As to oil, there are many different oils that can be used. Various nut oils are available, olive oil works well, but one of the most common good oils is baby oil. It does not soak into the skin as much which is either good or bad depending on your desires, but it works well, a little goes a long way and it both smells and tastes good if accidently tasted.

Massage can be given on a massage table, on the floor, the bed or even on a kitchen/dining table if it is large enough. Lay some blankets on the table to give it some cushion. The person receiving the massage lies either face down or face up depending on the couple’s preferences. Because the most common need is to massage the shoulders, neck or lower back, I usually find myself massaging the back first. This is a good time to remove all jewelry including contact lenses. Also ascertain if there are any tender areas or any other physical ailments of which to be careful.

My experience is that people most frequently want their back massaged first. If the receiver has specific requests, those are the places to begin. You need not spend all your time there, but at least address your partner’s concerns. This is often the lower back, but also frequently shoulder muscles are sore. Gently but firmly feel for the muscle and knead it carefully. As you proceed you will discover just how much pressure your partner can handle.

If you already know some massage strokes, go ahead and use them as appropriate, but even just kneading the muscles will do a great deal to make your partner a happier person. Beginning with the neck and shoulders work gently down through the shoulders and the arms. Pay attention to the wrist and hands. There are 34 hard working muscles in each hand. You can’t grab each one but massaging between the bones of the metacarpals on both the front and the back is quite delightful.

Now follow down the back, kneading each muscle or muscle group. Be careful not to put undue pressure on the spine. In fact it is better to put no pressure directly on the spine, though on both sides should be fine. Continue with whatever stroke feels good to both of you until you get to the buttocks and hips. Continue the kneading or other stroke, but with more vigor. The muscles and fat of the buttock can stand the pressure and it will feel pleasurable.

Next are the legs. The front of the legs have some muscles, the back of the legs harbor more. The backs are especially susceptible to the dreaded charley horse, usually in the calf of the leg. Taking care of a charley horse is beyond this article, but you can get hints on WebMD, etc. Still a sore calf muscle will really benefit from a thorough kneading..

Finally, don’t forget the feet. There are more than 100 muscles and 26 bones in each foot. Like with the hands, you can’t really massage each muscle, but you can get the bigger ones and you can rub between the bones—gently.

After finishing your partner’s back, you can either ask them to turn over—or—I usually say, gently, that “You can lie there as long as you like or turn over whenever you feel ready.”

I am not going to do a full description of massaging the front of your partner’s body. It is not really all that different from the back with a few exceptions. First, treat the face with gentleness. All the edges of the face and jaw bones are places that feel good, but can easily feel bad if treated harshly. The front of the neck is quite vulnerable as well.

Another area of difference is that directly massaging the breasts is fine, but it may carry sexual overtones in our society. Still, if you wish to massage the muscles of the chest, called the pectoralis, they are behind the breasts in that area. They cannot be massaged without massaging the breasts—and then only a little.

Finally, and this is where massage professionals fall into faddism and mythology. Some massage professionals will tell you to massage the stomach and abdomen in a clockwise direction. Others have good reasons to recommend a counter-clockwise. The truth is it really doesn’t matter. You might hear that you can back up the colon if you go counter-clockwise, but you are not going to be putting that much pressure to actually back things up. Still, those whose teachers taught one way or the other make much of this.

Now you have the rudiments to give a very delightful and healing massage. Is it as good as a massage therapist? Of course not. But it is delightfully pleasant, relaxing to tired muscles and a way of saying “I love you,” without being deeply sensual or erotic. It is also the base from which to build sensual or erotic massage, which we will cover in the next articles.