“Let me slip this blindfold on you,” I whispered to my husband on our anniversary.
I had cleaned the room and added a few new touches to create a special ambiance: twinkle lights, a sheer red fabric covering one window, and a vase of peacock feathers off to the side. I wanted to create the feeling of entering a sacred space—a movement from the mundane to the mystical. I would take my husband on a playful, sensual adventure momentarily.
I was excited. I had been preparing for this particular date night for the past week—a sensory awakening ritual. We were first introduced to the idea years ago when, after finding ourselves at a low point, we took a year-long Love and Ecstasy Training designed to help foster intimacy.
In this ritual-meets-game for couples, there is a “Giver” and a “Receiver.” This time, my husband would be the Receiver, and I, the Giver. All week, I had been collecting materials, putting myself in his shoes, imagining the impact of each, and curating this upcoming journey.
Why Curate a Sensory Awakening Ritual for Your Beloved?
Sometimes dinner and a movie don’t scratch the date-night itch. We crave a special one-on-one connection, something out of the ordinary (but not too expensive), something light-hearted and playful—something that helps us become present together, away from our worries and relentless to-do list. That’s where this sensory awakening ritual comes in.
In this ritual, the Giver blindfolds the Receiver and introduces one sense sample at a time. The Giver must plan, gathering a variety of items to craft a journey of unexpected delights for their partner.
On the appointed day, the Receiver relinquishes all control, dons a blindfold, and trusts their partner to take them on a sense-filled adventure into the unknown, mysterious, and sensual Now.
Receivers are in for a treat. Without the initial visual label to tell us what something is, we experience it anew. We enter a new realm with each sensory sample: A taste experienced fully without sight can be uniquely different; a smell might transport us to a distant memory; a sound can magically seem to appear out of nowhere. When we leave the labeling mind behind, we enter a more poetic, timeless, and uncalculated experience.
This date-night game can transport us to a different way of being together—inviting us to divert our attention away from our everyday thoughts, worries, and to-dos, seducing us to be right here, right now, undistracted and with our beloved. Curious? Try it for yourself!
How to Prepare for a Sensory Awakening Ritual
Set the Date
Together, decide a date and time for your sensory awakening ritual(s) and who will be the first Receiver. It’s best to block at least two hours of undistracted time, with no other responsibilities and no technology.
The Receiver will need a blindfold, which adds an air of mystique. Formal blindfolds are unnecessary; any soft scarf covering the eyes will do.
The Giver will need to gather two to four samples representative of each of the senses. On the appointed date day, the Giver should have each ready but hidden from view. Below are some ideas:
Sounds: Musical instruments such as bells, gongs, singing bowls, flutes, and guitars are always good, but so, too, are song samples or unusual sounds from the ocean, space, or nature.
Smells: Essential oils are always a good option, but you might also consider flowers, spices, or soaps—anything with a potent scent. Consider the order of your scent offerings. For example, you might want to offer the Receiver cleansing scents like peppermint or eucalyptus before sensual scents like jasmine or ylang-ylang.
Taste: Sensuous foods such as seedless grapes, bread and honey, chocolate, and pineapple and liquids such as fruit or vegetable juice and liqueurs are great options.
Touch: Fabrics (think silk or linen), brushes, peacock feathers, rocks, or crystals will delight the Receiver.
Sight: During the sight portion of your ritual, you will ask the Receiver to take off their blindfold and offer them a photo, a beautiful rock, or something resembling an inkblot. You can also use your own body, face, and eyes.
Optional items to have handy:
A gong to start each session. (Note: Insight Timer App makes an excellent “basu” gong sound.)
Toothpicks, cotton swabs, and small cups to help with delivering taste and smell samples.
Enjoy the Practice
The Giver should gather everything needed, including the blindfold and samples. These should be organized, perhaps on trays, but kept hidden.
To get started and to add an element of mystery, it is fun to sequester the Receiver in another room while you get the ritual room ready. You might light candles, have special seating, and play some mood music before starting. Then, blindfold them and ceremoniously bring them into the room, perhaps by weaving a tale about taking them on a journey to an ancient temple or other sacred place.
Once the blindfold is on, turn off all music and let the Receiver sit for a minute or two. Start the session by ringing a gong or singing bowl (or using a sound from an app). Invite the Receiver to listen to the gong sound as it slowly fades into nothing. Doing this between each of the sense experiences below helps demarcate one sense experience from the next and gets the Receiver re-centered again.
Start with your first sense. I recommend beginning with hearing, but go with your heart.
Hearing: Play the sound for about 30-60 seconds. Allow some silence after each sound. Tibetan bells, singing bowls, and gongs are always fun to play, but recordings are also lovely. In some situations, allowing the sound to come from different directions by walking around the room can be fun. There are other ways to create an unusual experience with sound. You can play something mysterious or at different frequencies. Get creative! My favorite sensual soundbite is a segment from Jim Wilson’s “God’s Chorus of Crickets.”
Smelling: Allow the Receiver to inhale the scent deeply without the item touching their face. (Hint: If you use essential oils, you can dip these in cotton swabs and hand them to the Receiver.) Allow some minutes to pass between scents. The pause creates a delicious feeling of anticipation.
Tasting: Using toothpicks or cups, bring the food or drink near the Receiver’s nose, allowing them to smell it first before inviting them to open their mouth and receive it. Smell is a significant component of taste. You can tease your lover, maybe by running a grape around their lips then retracting it before they bite down, or by dipping your finger into a liqueur and rubbing it on their lips. Don’t be afraid to try radically different tastes, but end on something you know will be pleasing to the Receiver. Carrot juice is fun because it is tough to identify. One participant in this exercise once declared, “This is what green tastes like!”
Touching: You might start almost imperceptibly with a light feather or bit of fabric. Then, allow yourself to cover all different parts of their body teasingly, seductively, even maddeningly.
Seeing: Allow some silence before instructing the Receiver to remove their blindfold. You can present all different kinds of visual offerings, like a tarot card, a photo, a piece of art, or a piece of nature. You can also have them remove their blindfold to see you seductively dancing. You can also instruct them to close their eyes between samples. It can be especially remarkable to have your partner remove their blindfold to see you gazing deeply into their eyes and entering into a melting hug.
Afterward, remember to offer each other feedback about the experience to help anchor it. The Giver can ask the Receiver, “What was that like for you?” “What was your favorite or least favorite part?” “What surprised you?” And, then, quietly listen while the Receiver shares what they liked or what surprised them. The Giver, too, can share what it was like for them to curate such a journey for their beloved.
Finally, remember you will want to exchange roles. It can be nice to save the exchange for a different day, to maintain the experience, and to allow the new Giver ample time to prepare.
Enjoy a letting-go ritual for couples.