Along with the joy, sadness, anger, grief, satisfaction and various other states that make our sense of being lies the often-neglected sense of eroticism.

What is it?

Simply put, it is the sense of aliveness and vitality, curiosity and interest, push and pull of the engagement in life. Eroticism is pleasure and pain, relief and stress. It is also the cerebral processing – the thoughts, emotions, and fantasies – of sexuality. It is our way of experiencing and understanding aliveness and sensuality in the context of our inner worlds by using the information and experiences we have on hand, in answering the “why” of our desires.

Where do I start?

Eroticism, whether between partners or within oneself, begins with vulnerability and presence. Being able to relinquish the efficiency-first mindset, to slow down and explore our true needs and desires is key to discovering and exploring eroticism. It is not a line to check off our to-do list. Nor is it a mind-numbing break from life’s stressors. Just as eating is essential to the body, so too is eroticism essential to the soul. After all, how do we navigate the world and each other well without vitality and self-knowledge?

What should I do?

Letting go of all that one is supposed to do and feel, to look and act, and being present to oneself is essential to self-care. Letting go of negative self-talk and criticism to make room for what allows us to truly be, to feel beautiful and compassionate and alive is erotic. Eroticism equals invigoration, not necessarily orgasm. It can be present in simply petting a dog or in a complicated endeavor such as studying quantum physics.

To learn our bodies by stop filling the gaps in our self-knowledge with Tiktoks and toys and short term excitement, and start exploring our likes and dislikes regarding touch, sound, and feel is a start. Honoring one’s eroticism can and does take many forms, reinforcing the idea that eroticism starts and ends with the self.

Too many of us are guilty of neglecting our relationship with ourselves. We’ve betrayed ourselves, been betrayed, got lost in fears, told ourselves that we can’t love or be loved, or are simply too exhausted to care about anything except the moment we can trade pants for pajamas. Whatever the reason, ignoring our erotic selves seemingly allows us to allocate energy towards more pressing matters. However, it is by engaging in erotic self-care that we reclaim bodily autonomy and the confidence to tackle daily challenges and retain the quality of joy.

But what if…?

What if we had freedom as well as security to expand our understanding and exploration of not only ourselves, but our relationships and the world at large? To come alive with vitality invites, fosters and feeds emotional connection, infuses relationships with joy, and allows us to engage with the world in a fulfilling way. This is eroticism!