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Your Guide to Living a 'Sensual' Life - Henika Patel

From tantra to storytelling



Founder of the School of Sensual Arts, Henika Patel, is inviting a worldwide community to come together and grow in personal, collective knowledge regarding sensuality. Busting through taboos and gathering around topics such as shame, Henika is all about diving more deeply into sensual spirits which she describes as being “our innate life force and expression; it’s how we see, taste, touch and feel."


In the SOSA, Henika uses somatic practices and ancient philosophy informed by her own culture to carry out the work she does “I’m Indian so I bring through some tantric and yogic philosophy which support the practices and help to instill them all the time”. She explains how “tantra is about making your life the meditation so it’s more this path of modern spirituality that you can do in the everyday” which allows people to engage and connect wherever they may be.



With a new book, Sensual, fresh on the shelf Henika Patel talks to us about the process to writing her debut work. She shares the way grief and wanting to turn her body back online led her on a sensual, spiritual journey, describing sensuality as being “this innate force within us and how it’s naturally there to be unraveled”. Through connection to a senseful lifestyle, Henika guides people through a combination of personal stories, practical exercises and ancient philosophy for everyone to engage with and learn from.


 


Henika’s Sensual Journey


From a young age, Henika remembers being a child who loved to move. However, due to multiple experiences of grief from the age of 10 -14 Henika shares how a huge shift transpired making her move "from my body into my head. I studied law and trained my brain to prevent me from accessing what was in my body because there was a lot of things I was scared to look at”.



For Henika, a big indicator that something was wrong was a disconnect in the bedroom which led her own a journey of moving away from law and discovering, learning and sharing knowledge about sensual exploration and growth. Henika shares how this experience showed her how much of a repression there is regarding sexuality and the vast gap in our understanding & education around the bodies sensuality through yogic and tantric practices.


Everyday Sensuality


When discussing making sensuality a lifestyle, Henika describes is as making sensation the object of the meditation. She explains her philosophy of encouraging people to move from mindfulness to sensefulness “to observe the senses which we are experiencing which bring us into the present moment. And you don’t need to close your eyes for an hour, you can do that as you live and work and breathe and drive. However you live your life, sensefulness is available to you”.




However you live your life, sensefulness is available to you. You don’t need to close your eyes for an hour, you can do it as you live and work and breathe and drive.


She encourages this to go hand in hand with meditation. “When you close out a sense, you strengthen other ones. So if you close down your sense of sight, you open your sixth sense - it is introspection which allows you to go down into your body and observe the sensations in it. Which is what connects you to your intuition and allows you to take it’s advice/message/alarm signals.” This is something Henika explains can help close open cycles to heal, refresh and use it for what your body and spirit needs.



Tantra - what is it?


The conversation around sensuality and tantra is something that Henika discusses as becoming more prevalent but "what's important to be aware of is what we experience mostly in the West, in the UK is neo-tantra - it's the modern version". Describing this as being similar to the way yoga has made it's way to the west and is known as stretching, Henika reflects on how "tantra has made it's way to the West and is known as sex and as an indigenous practitioner, a lot of my work is demystifying what tantra is and bringing it back to it's roots. Sex is about 1% of the entire ocean of tantra. There is so much that we can learn from this amazing path that helps us accept who we are, exactly for who we are; it's a path of releasing parts of ourselves that we've held in judgement". The direct translation of the word tantra is a loom which Henika describes as weaving together all the different threads of ourselves.



As an indigenous practitioner, a lot of my work is demystifying what tantra is and bringing it back to it's roots. Sex is about 1% of the entire ocean of tantra


With discussions around tantra being more open, she expresses how "there's still a lot of work to do, as individuals, couples and it's an exciting point to be at." Recognising how mindfulness has found it's place, so it's now about "dropping from the mind and moving into our senses to make us less like robots and more like humans". Something that becomes more relevant every day as our lives continue to morph into tech-centric and AI driven realities.


The Process of Writing


Henika explains how writing her debut book Sensual was a three stage process created over the course of two years. ”The first time I wrote the book was for myself - it was going back to the numbness and my own journey. It was very difficult to go back to that, to sit with the blinking cursor and recall it.” The second edition was bringing together all of the knowledge “mythology, Goddesses, philosophy, theory, psychology, psychotherapy - all of the stuff I studied to turn the body back online”. The third version was for the reader bringing everything together and “thinking if I can reach one person in their journey to connection, reconnecting back to their spark, then these words are for them”. As a three dimensional process, it shows the layers to Henika’s own dedication and hopefulness to enable a more sensual life so as to prosper, heal, grow, and flourish as individuals, collectively.



If I can reach one person in their journey to connection, reconnecting back to their spark, then these words are for them


As a lover of writing, Henika explains how she started out a few years ago on wordpress blogging about her experiences and seeing the words flowing, capturing human connection through stories. “But it was very different writing an article to writing a twelve chapter book”. Having worked with the publishers Hayhouse who supported Henika in the process, she explains how bringing this book into the world feels like living a dream. It's with excitement that we're celebrating Sensual and it's release, certain that Henika's words will bring hope and sensual change to people across the globe.


As we watch Henika's work continue to evolve, bringing retreats, workshops, shakti circles, mentoring and writing to her ever growing community, her bright light of sensual sharing acts as an example for others to learn from. Whether it's moving from mind to body, or overcoming deep seeded shame and resistance, Henika's work is both inviting and abundant in it's transformational intensions. Which is something that we know everyone can benefit from.


 

Order your copy of Sensual today (Amazon, Waterstones) and get to know more about Henika's School of Sensual Arts by visiting the website.


Keep up to date with Henika's work via IG @henika.x


And check out @siblinglosscommunity as mentioned in the podcast supporting people who've lost siblings and cousins through monthly meet-ups.


Interview by Bethany Burgoyne @bxsassy2



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