Before you read any further (and I hope you do), let's start this experience by asking yourself the next couple of questions. If you've got a little more time than just taking a mental note, go ahead and write down your answers. Approach your answers with curiosity rather than judgement, allowing yourself to hold what resonates as a true feeling as opposed to what you think SHOULD be the right answer. Now let's play!
1. What does pleasure mean to me?
2. How do I or have I experience(d) pleasure in my life? Helpful tip: Explore all the varieties of pleasure inside and outside the bedroom that you would categorize as pleasurable.
3. How does pleasure feel in my body? Helpful tip: use adjectives to describe sensations that may arise (tingly, warm, cool, dull, connected, detached, red, yellow, etc.).
4. How do I cultivate pleasure?
Awesome! Take one last moment to honor and thank yourself for being honest and having the courage to be curious!
Now that you've grounded yourself in a foundational understanding of your personal relationship to pleasure, come along to explore a few ideas that I hope will help you expand your vision of its transformational union with your sacred sexuality!
Your body is brilliantly sensual! We engage with the world and formulate much of our experience of life through our five sense (exteroceptors: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste). But did you know we have more than just 5 senses?! Have you ever been so excited or nervous that you could hear your heartbeat in your ears? In that moment, you are sensing your heart! It's ok. Go ahead and take a moment to have your mind blown by the fact that you can sense the presence and action of an organ! Your organ!! Like, inside your body! Just as you use your 5 senses to detect and experience the outside world, this sense of interoception allows you to be aware of your internal world. Interoception allows you to become aware of internal imbalances or shifts which are salient to the understanding of your habits of mind. I myself have anxiety. When it begins to creep into my mental space, through the mind-body connection, I can begin to interoceptively receive physical signs of anxiety in the form of a faster heartbeat or as though my intestines are tightening. Before I become aware of my thoughts, sometimes it's these internal, physical sensations that are the first cues that my anxiety levels are starting to rise. Heightening your interoceptive awareness allows you to become more attuned to your thoughts and feelings - you become more adept at translating the messages expressed by your internal body, informing you of what you may need or what may not be serving you.
Your body's magnificent intelligence doesn't stop there! Oh no, honey! It just gets more delicious. You have a deeper layer of sensuality that is receptive to your eroticism. Can you guess where these are located? Though we have many erogenous zones on our bodies, here I'm referring to your sexual organs. This includes the cervix, vaginal canal, vulva, clitoris, prostate, testes, and penis. The sensory circuits that these organs use to tell your brain that it is receiving pleasure are the same circuits used by an additional and profound sense - your ability to sense feeling a part of and/or connected to something larger than yourself - your spiritual sense. Your body has been wired to integrate both messages of divine connectivity with that of sexual and sensual pleasure. In meditation, we allow ourselves to be present to an energetic exchange and dialogue with the divine. Using the same neural circuity, so may your sexual eroticism be a sensual and energetic communication with your divinity. Sex is a sacred meditation. Pleasure is the language....quite literally. The messages communicated to your brain by your erotic and spiritual senses come in the form of hormones and neurotransmitters that are distinctly correlated to pleasure, such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. If your body was not created to sense, receive, give, and expand pleasure, why would we have a fully functional, physiological mechanism to support it? Pleasure is truly our divine birthright!
So how do you begin to engage with the ample layers of sensation that reside within you? It begins with the practice of awareness, or what many have come to know as mindfulness. This is the practice of presence and allowance; allowing yourself to receive all as it is, so that you may be all that you are. The body scan (bringing awareness to the whole of your body, from your pinky toe to the hair on your head) is the first step on your path of awareness. Below is a body scan by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man who popularized the power of mindfulness in the West. This act of awareness can be practiced any time, any where, in the car, while washing dishes, or kissing your beloved.
Now that we're at the end of this experience, revisit your answers to the questions above. Are your answers the same? Are they different? Perhaps you have more questions. All of the above are the right answers, because, well, there is no wrong answer, there is only discovery. Take the journey towards understanding your pleasure and along the way you'll find your truth.