What Are Your Favorite Physical Sensations?

hand print
On Facebook the other day, someone posted the question, “What are your favorite physical sensations?” I liked the game, swiped it for my own Facebook page, and thought I’d post it here as well. Reading other people’s responses has been making me happy, and is reminding me of some of my own that I missed. Plus it feels all humanist and shit. The joys of the body in the here and now, and all that.

A few of my own answers that leap immediately to mind: Sinking into a just-hot-enough bath. Being in a bath and scrubbing my skin with scented salt-and-oil scrub I made myself. Stroking my own skin after a bath. The first sip of a cup of coffee made exactly the way I like it. Biting into a perfectly ripe nectarine. The feel of a light warm breeze on my skin (I don’t get that NEARLY enough, in San Francisco it’s usually chilly enough that when I’m outside I want long sleeves). Wrapping a soft soft blanket around me, and settling into another soft soft blanket behind me. Stroking a cat’s fur. Muscle soreness after a good workout (especially a weight workout). The scent of slow-roasting tomato sauce. The feel and scent of freshly-done laundry. The view of our backyard from our back room. Ingrid’s hair between my fingers. So many food things I can’t even say them all here, but a lot of it is first tastes: first taste of chocolate melting on my tongue, first taste of toasted cheese on good bread, first bite into a gooey pastry thing with some sort of cream, first taste of a ridiculously well-crafted cocktail made with bourbon. Walking: pretty much anywhere, but especially in my neighborhood and my city, and also especially in a strange city. The sight of good street art.

(I’m going to stay away from sexual ones, because I’ve become more private about that stuff lately.)

What are yours? (I’m going to ask people to stay away from sexual ones in this space, since sometimes that can be a little TMI with strangers.)

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

What Are Your Favorite Physical Sensations?

11 thoughts on “What Are Your Favorite Physical Sensations?

  1. 2

    Since Tourette’s Syndrome involves physical sensations (real and unreal) I’m not sure how much of this I can get across. It’s like my whole system of interacting with things physically is shaped in certain ways.

    I like it when my wife gives me goose-bumps and then immediately massages them roughly.

    When I learn something new involving comparing different things and discovering a greater category that they belong to, the act of making the categorical realization gives me the sensation of “zaps” like mild shocks inside of my head.

  2. 3

    Swimming. I have a mobility impairment, and swimming is the only way I can tire myself out with physical activity without also being in serious pain. I love the exquisite sensation of strain in my muscles as I pull myself through the water. I love the sound of my out-breaths bubbling past my ears; the caress of water rippling over my skin; the gasp of my in-breath each time I break the surface; the feeling of agility as I tuck-and-turn. It makes me feel amazing.

  3. 4

    One of my favorite sensations is kneading and folding this honeycomb silicone trivet… when I first encountered one in a store I think I spent a good 5-10 minutes just standing there, blissed out and completely enraptured by the sensation.

    The taste of ripe strawberries from a roadside stand in Maine is another good one. The perfect color of the strawberries, a deep red all the way up to the stem and completely through to the center, is almost as important as the taste.

    Being buried in a pile of fresh laundry, unfolded and still warm from the dryer.

  4. 5

    I wasn’t thinking of scent or hearing at the term ‘physical sensation.’ What comes to mind is some full-body responses to music.

    Sidney Bechet re-entering on soprano saxophone on ‘Really the Blues’ from 1938.
    Almost anything of Lester Young’s clarinet playing.
    John McCormack’s long melisma on a single breath in ‘Oh Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me.’

    I googled the Handel just now and felt it again.

  5. 7

    The smell of pine trees in the summer heat. Riding my horse, when everything just works right and my body is moving in time with her. Muscle soreness after a hard hike or ride. The texture of really good chocolate ganache on my tongue, and the taste of good dark chocolate can give me a whole body rush. Hearing good blues music live, that’s a whole body feel too. Rubbing from my nose to just between my eyes, just like a cat. The feel of a warm cat cuddled up to me, digging my fingers into their super soft belly fur (they oddly love that too).

  6. 10

    The scent of ripe white peaches. Very different than yellow ones.

    The taste of really ripe blackberries fresh off the cane. I tolerate a giant hill of them in my back yard for just this purpose.

    There are a lot of music-related ones for me. I sing with a band that mainly plays instrumentals, and I joke that I sing the string parts. There are a few tunes where I hold a high note for a few measures while the rest of the band carries the tune forward. I get a tingle out of just listening to this kind of thing from other performers, and doing it myself is even better, especially with a crescendo through the held note.

    I’m also a belly dancer, and I perform to Middle Eastern music almost exclusively. In Arabic music the concept of tarab means the music leading the hearer through an emotional journey. As a dancer my aim is to be the music made visible, and to enter tarab during a performance is almost like a trance. It doesn’t happen to me often, but it’s when I do my best improv.

  7. Ivo

    When I learn something new involving comparing different things and discovering a greater category that they belong to, the act of making the categorical realization gives me the sensation of “zaps” like mild shocks inside of my head.

    @Brony, wow! As a mathematician, I spend much of my working hours trying to do just that: looking for common features of apparently unrelated structures, finding ways to categorize all sorts of patterns. I definitely *love it*, intellectually speaking, when things finally click into place, but it being accompanied by a physical sensation inside my head sounds very exotic and intriguing to me. I would probably fall off my chair if that happened 🙂

    As for my own favorites: it seems people have lots of love for hot baths, but I dislike the sensation of lying in still water and on slippery ceramic. I much prefer showers and the sensation of the hot water hitting my head and flowing down my neck and shoulders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *