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Let’s prioritise pleasure as being deeply good for us!
Life is dangerous.
There are plenty of hurts and shocks, pressures and stresses, accidents and pathogens. When the challenge is too much, we feel overwhelmed. Pleasure is necessary to balance the ordinary pain of everyday life.
Pleasure is delightful.
Whatever the original source of pleasure—food, conversation, nature, music, love, sex, shopping, fast cars—people can relax, improving emotional mood and physical health.
Good health and happiness arise from a state of balance.
The body is constantly trying to return to balance. This takes place at every level, for example, blood pressure not being too low or too high; nerves not too activated or numbed; cell membranes not too open or too closed.
Most of us distrust pleasure.
We’ve been brought up to endure suffering, to feel we must please others, do unpleasant work first, and be rewarded later.
Stress makes us tense up, hold our breath, and ignore our body signals telling us to go to the toilet, eat, or rest. It can make us endure situations or foods that are not good for us. Trauma and relentless stress cause adrenal exhaustion, inflammation, burnout, depression, and illness.
No one taught us that pleasure is a good, natural, and free resource.
It’s a life ingredient vital for your physical and emotional health. Pleasure arises through authentic and respectful engagement with ourselves, people, objects, nature, opportunities, and life itself.
Pleasure is an essential life code.
The pleasure of intimacy prompts us to reproduce, creating health at the species level. Delicious fruits and leaves tempt us to pick them and enjoy their nourishment. A person we are attracted to as an intimate partner, that is soul and body good for us, is beautiful, and smells just right to us!
Most of us are “up in our heads.”
Most of us are busy with anxiety, judgment, blame, expectation, and plans. We miss the rich sensuality of life—that’s actually lived in the body, in the present moment.
As a bodyworker, therapist, and author of The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being, my work is with people and their bodies. My book is a manual for pleasure, a unique and powerful guidebook to being fully human. I teach people how to access pleasure, by slowing down out of their usual fast-thinking, to be able to notice, sense, and feel their own bodies.
Being in contact with the body is being more in contact with reality. From here, what do you really need or want?
How did I find pleasure?
When I was a child, people seemed miserable, false, and critical. I felt alone, nervous, and wrong. But being outdoors in sensual nature amongst trees and open sky, I was happy and free to be me.
I knew that there was so much more pleasure available than most people usually live. I’ve been on a huge transformational healing journey for decades, undoing cultural and personal conditioning, to realise I’m fully worthy of existing and of receiving physical pleasures. Each of us has to explore to find pleasure for ourselves.
Pleasure is a choice.
We can be the last thing to pay attention to on our to-do list, or first! Choosing pleasure is not selfish, but self-resourcing and self-soothing. You can create a new positive habit; connect with something lovely—a drink, salad, or a friend. And in doing so, know that it can improve our mood and quality of behaviour/work.
Pleasure arises through kindness.
When we accept a situation—self or another—exactly as it is right now, something magical happens and the moment opens up into joyful pleasure!
Hippocrates, the Ancient Greek physician, once said:
“Before you heal someone, ask him if he’s willing to give up the things that make him sick.”
Perhaps the foundation of good health is to stop punishing ourselves with a fast pressured lifestyle and to start prioritising our enjoyment and delight.