My new phrase: sensuous delight

 
sen·su·ous. adjective.
1. perceived by or affecting the senses
2. readily affected through the senses
3. of or pertaining to sensible objects or to the senses

 
de·light. noun.
1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture.
2. something that gives great pleasure.
 
verb (used with object)
3. to give great pleasure, satisfaction, or enjoyment to; please highly.
 
verb (used without object)
4. to have great pleasure; take pleasure (followed by in  or an infinitive).

 
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Words like “take time to reflect” or “recharge yourself” are so over-used as to be over-worn, but nonetheless, this was what I knew my life was calling for me to do–and even though I’m someone who feels well-versed in the idea of rooting in how I want to feel, and using that to guide my life and my choices, I knew that I wanted nothing more than some time spent with tea and The Desire Map.

I already knew that my highest life value is that of freedom. I already knew that as I walk through my day-to-day, I wish to feel inspired, connected, affluent, and useful.

But at the same time that I was working through The Desire Map, I realized that there was something else to add to the list:

sensuous delight.

Mmmmm-hmmm. That means everything you’re thinking it means (and more).

 
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It appeared like this: I came home after a long day and found Marie Antoinette (the Sophia Coppola version) was on television.

It was already towards the end, when Marie’s really vamping it up with feather plumes in her hair, and the cinematography is so lavish that one can feel the luxury.

I found myself riveted, delighted by the color, the scale, the camera perspectives, the lines, the music, all of it so…sensuous. I had been tired from the long day, but watching what remained of the movie, I felt more awake, more fully-alive.

The phrase came to me, quite suddenly: sensuous delight.

Yes! To delight in the senses.

“In my life, I cultivate sensuous delight! This is a core desired feeling!” I thought.
 

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During my first year of graduate school, I often felt profoundly depressed. Then one Sunday, I decided that I would put on the movie, Amelie. While it was playing, I made cookies.

How soothed I felt–so much so that for the next few months, I would do it again, every Sunday: turn on Amelie, and make cookies. I’d eat three or four of the cookies, and then pack the rest up to give away, and for a little while each week, I felt okay, again.

I had never understood why this ritual was so soothing, until this recent phrase, “sensuous delight” came to me.

Sensuous delight is…the smell of cookies baking. The colors of Amelie, the richness as she walks the blind man through the busy Montmartre shops, describing to him the everyday simplicity of ice-cream and small children. The very sound of spoken French.

Oh, heaven.

Sensuous delight.

Is sensuous delight what’s missing from your life?

 

* * *

 

Now I understand.

Now I see…

…why I find conjugating Italian verbs, out loud, to be so relaxing.

…why, in high school, one of the most spiritual experiences of my life was playing cello in a performance of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony–if you have never had the experience of actually sitting amid the stir and vitally-alive vibrations of an orchestra executing a beautiful piece of music, I highly recommend it.

…how it is that one of the things that I love most about running is the sweat, the way it beads across my forehead or slips down the small of my back, and how much I love the way I feel after a run, face-flushed, all systems returning to normal, again.

…why it is that my soul has never felt more at home than it has in exactly two places: Italy, especially in and around Florence, and where I live and love now: Sonoma Valley wine country. (Want to see what I’m talking about? Google “Sonoma Valley Sunsets” and turn on the “images” search feature!).

…how vinyasa flow appeals to me so much because it is like a moving prayer.

…why I won’t tolerate an ill-fitting pair of shoes (or any other uncomfortable article of clothing) in the name of fashion. If I’m not feeling comfortable, I don’t care how good it looks–I need the sensuous delight of walking into a room and feeling good in my own skin.

And speaking of fashion, now I understand why it is that the thought came to me, “These essential oils make every outfit feel complete,” something I dismissed as a bit of an oddball musing, at the time.

Living from the place of sensuous delight–why, of *course* the essential oils make every outfit feel complete.

Duh.

Of course, we are living in sensory worlds–cultivating sensuous delight is about how much we stop to appreciate them.