Sensate Focus

Sensate Focus: Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Body During Sex

1. Start with Non-Demand Touching

Sensate focus can be considered “mindfulness for touch.” A mindfulness practice involves meditation, or intentional focusing on something specific. Sensate focus is “mindfulness for touch” because it is an intentional focus on touch, without expectations, judgment, or pressureSensate focus can teach a person how to be in their body experiencing, rather than in their head “spectating.”  

Sensate focus uses non-demand touching, which means you are touching with no particular outcome or expectation in mindThis is different from sexual foreplay. You are not trying to arouse the other person or even to pleasure them. Allow yourself to experience and enjoy touch for the sake of touch. Pay attention to the following aspects of the touch: temperature (warm/cool), pressure (hard/soft), and texture (smooth/rough).

2. Make some Preparations

Sensate focus sessions should be scheduled ahead of timeto allow for mental and physical preparation. Consider what will help you get in the mood for intimate touch. It’s important to minimize distractions and engage the senses. Removing distractions can include locking the bedroom door, taking time to unwind beforehand, and ensuring chores are completed. To engage the senses, you may use sensual music (without lyrics), scented candles, satin fabric, or lotions.

3. Go Through Each Phase

  • Phase 1: Take turns touching, kissing, and stroking anywhere on your partner’s body (or your own for solo) except genitals and breasts. For partnered sensate focus: partner one touches for 10 (or more) minutes, then partner two touches for 10 (or more) minutes. Avoid touch that leads to orgasm and intercourse until phase 4.

  • Phase 2: Same as phase 1, except that genitals and breasts can be included.

  • Phase 3 (partnered sensate focus only): Engage in mutual touching, kissing, and stroking of each other’s bodies simultaneously. Start with phase 1 touching, then progress to phase 2. Avoid touching that leads to orgasm and intercourse.

  • Phase 4: Proceed through phases 1 through 3, then move into a position as if you’re going to have intercourse. Move and rub your bodies against each other. Avoid intercourse or touching that will lead to orgasm until having completed one or two sessions of phase 4.


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