If pleasure was a sport, would you practice it?
To get good at most anything takes practice. Sports are one example of this. Many of us eagerly take this challenge on, especially if the sport we are interested in playing really matters to us. We commit time, energy, and focus to developing and enhancing both our muscles and our skill levels. Dedicating yourself to practicing and mastering a sport you value feels wonderful as you witness your talent and endorphins grow exponentially.
The art of experiencing and cultivating deep pleasure in your life offers similar delicious rewards. Especially in these challenging times of COVID-19, global upheaval, the fight for social justice, and protests against the evils of racism, our nervous systems have been rocked to the core. One way back to home to yourself — to grounding and regulating body, mind, and spirit — is to focus on what will make you feel good. We must tend lovingly to what brings us joy.
We have a responsibility to gently work with ourselves, doing whatever we can to release the painful, mind-numbing states that can grip us in times of acute stress. These states, for instance, of emotional blunting or emotional overload cause us to pull away from pleasure and joy. Positive emotions, on the other hand, can favorably impact immunity, resilience, and one’s overall state of well-being. Just as exercise can trigger the release of morphine-like chemicals in the body that help diminish pain and lift our mood, so can cultivating activities that bring us pleasure. Sexually active people have fewer sick days — just saying!
Own Your Wanting
First things first, then. You must own your wanting. Is it really is okay, many wonder, to go after that which you desire? Often we doubt or distance from this notion. Or we feel undeserving or selfish, especially when, for example, we know so many have suffered or are still suffering around the world. How am I worthy of happiness amid tragedy and despair? How are you not, I echo! Yet, it can be such a struggle. I believe it’s essential, however, to give yourself permission to want and to seek uplifting, comforting experiences. So ponder it. Consider what it is you crave or long for. Embrace yourself there.
Choosing, cultivating, and prioritizing pleasure can be challenging. It often necessitates digging deep, as well as pushing past long-held conscious or subconscious prohibitions. Many of us, it seems, grew up hearing fierce messages mandating self-sacrifice, self-abandonment, work-before-play, or attention on others-before-self. Not exactly the most fertile emotional ground for harvesting pleasures.
Fear not — the initial step in practicing this sport is simply imagining or day-dreaming about what would feel good or freeing to you. Notice where the energy rises in your body as you imagine possibilities. Stretch those joy-muscles to full capacity. How often, really, do we stop and reflect on what would bring us pleasure?
As a coach, I’ve discovered that for many of us, there is an abundance of un-mined gold to be dug up when it comes to personal delights and fancies. So begin now! Launch an internal search. Set your sights high. Your well-being depends on it!
Ask yourself, what is it that I long for? What is it that I really love? Take whatever time you need to figure this out. Then own it. Affirm it. Issue an exquisite stamp of self-approval on your discovery. Start small. Then imagine bigger and grander possibilities. Harness more and more pleasure in your life by awakening all your senses. Ask yourself what would be uniquely delightful in this moment? A nap? A bath? A bite of chocolate? The scent of lavender? A juicy burger? A lover’s caress? A quiet walk in nature? An intimate conversation? All of the above? Trust that by owning your desire for these simple pleasures, you are taking a step in the direction of feeling more alive, present, and whole again.
After identifying and owning your wanting, allow yourself time to practice developing mastery of this sport. A rich sense of fulfillment is directly correlated with one’s capacity to significantly honor and seize opportunities to step fully into joyful experiences. Making a point of daily tending to practicing pleasure keeps us in touch with authentic positive feelings. Then just watch this familiarity and deep knowing of what you enjoy grow, as will your muscle-memory for it, through repetition. When we can embody routines and rhythms that feel uplifting and regularly commit to practicing activities that bring joy, we open to our full humanness.
Repeatedly and consistently staying aware of, and saying yes to, your desires is incredibly empowering. This kind of dedication spotlights our worthiness, offering so much more than fleeting moments of enjoyment that happen by chance. Setting an intention to infuse your days with pleasurable moments you have carefully crafted automatically lifts your life and spirit to new heights. You become all the more in touch with your heart and with what is truly significant and meaningful. So go ahead, flex those joy-muscles! As your positive vibes rise, you’ll feel Olympic-ready for whatever life calls you to endure. Pleasure graces and buffers us that way.
Meet Yourself Anew
Just as athletes excitedly witness their strength, skill sets, and bodies transform as the result of hours of dedication and practice, so can you witness a rebirth or awakening of unique aspects of yourself as you open to the gifts of pleasure in your life. The uninhibited joy that oozes from experiences of pleasure helps temper harsh negative internal voices, calms us in times of stress, pain or sorrow, and serves as a soothing balm against negative external forces.
Pleasure moments are moments of high energetic vibration. If you keep yourself vibrating there, you become more in touch with your higher self and true nature. Your sense of struggle will lessen, your emotional availability will rise ( toward both yourself and others), your fatigue and lethargy will lift, and your sense of clarity, confidence, and hope will soar.
In pleasure states, notice how you feel more self-aware, empathetic, creative, emotionally balanced, and more connected to yourself, others, and nature as a whole. Engaging regularly in pleasurable moments definitely helps them multiply. Pleasure breeds synchronicities as we notice the interconnectedness of it all. And so, my friends, meet yourself there. Unabashedly. Create and step into a flow of joy and positivity in this -your one, sweet, precious life!
This article was also published in The Brick Magazine