The first time ever I dreamt in Spanish (after moving to Ibiza and starting to learn the language), I uttered these words in my sleep: Mhmmm, me gusta, mhmmm, que bueno (Mhmm, I like, mhmm, how good).
Don’t ask me what I was dreaming about, even though obviously it must have been good. All I can tell you is that I was strongly practicing my Pleasure Muscle during that time and obviously my subconscious liked it so much it picked it up even while I was sleeping. Pleasure is my passion. Here is why.
Life is so full of boring and often ungrateful things needing our attendance like doing the dishes, the washing, cooking, cleaning, shopping, getting on time to work, answering those emails and WhatsApp messages, doing your taxes or dealing with other bureaucratic nonsense, that after too much of that we often lose being in touch with our natural capacity for enjoyment or pleasure.
We fill up with tension and stress and our world narrows down into a black and white tunnel where the only thing we care about is to get stuff done in an attempt to alleviate the pressure and overwhelm. Underneath we all crave for the elusive respite and peace at the end of the tunnel of our doingness…
And yet the more we go on like that, the harder it is to actually get there.
When we realize that this kind of linear thinking actually doesn’t work (we will never get everything done and then will be able to relax and enjoy) we can start practicing our ‘Pleasure Muscle’ in everyday life instead and hopefully have more fun on the way.
Pleasure depends on our ability to receive
We experience pleasure when we are in a state of receptivity. In order to receive one has to pay attention to the details. In that sense, Pleasure has a lot to do with mindfulness. When our awareness is on the physical sensations in our bodies, we become alive again. This aliveness is what creates our pleasure. It’s the same when we are making love, the more we notice our body, the more we are able to receive and enjoy ourselves. But in order to do that, we must first…
When are heads are full of to-do-lists, have-to’s, worries and our hearts are full of undigested emotions, it’s hard to be in relationship with our body. If you feel yourself in that space of tension and tightness, disconnected from your capacity to enjoy and receive pleasure, you have to first empty the well.
Exercise is great. Going outside and having a scream is fantastic (if you live near the sea, have a scream underwater, it’s the best therapy, you’ll see!). Doing a shaking meditation is really helpful. (Just stand hip-width apart, feet firmly planted on the ground and allow your body to shake for five–20min).
Talk with someone you trust about how you feel, it opens up your vulnerability and helps you digest what’s inside. Receive a massage or some sort of bodywork. Have a dance, or sing a song. Allow yourself to cry and/or laugh. And making love is, of course, the best.
There are a thousand ways to empty, find what works for you in the moment. Just be willing to shift gears from linear thinking to a more receptive way of being and feeling.
2. Soften and Don’t Judge Your Sensations
As you are going through your daily life allow yourself to practice softening. You can do this anywhere and anytime. Soften the way you do when looking at a beautiful sunset. Or admiring a delicate flower. Or when you are around the innocence of a baby or a kitten or puppy. Bring your attention to the sun on your face and skin. And if there is no sun, bring attention to the cold or rain. If you are not judging it, all of it becomes enjoyable and pleasurable.
I do this while I’m driving. As I’m noticing my sitting bones on the seat, my arms on the steering wheel, I make a conscious decision to soften. Soften my pelvis, my shoulders and soften my eyes and face. This alone takes you into more receptivity. You can even practice softening your heart, especially towards yourself. Just locate the physical sensation around your heart and relax the muscles around it. Don’t judge the tension and tightness. Soften your mind also and allow yourself to simply notice and observe.
3. Breathe and Move
As you are softening, notice your breath. How is it flowing? Make friends with your breath. You do that by bringing your attention to it. You notice it flowing in and as you do that you simply allow yourself to enjoy it. That willingness to enjoy is often enough to deepen your breath. When I bring my attention to the enjoyment of my breath, it starts getting bigger, triggering the natural movement of my body. The chest is expanding, the hips are relaxing, the jaw is opening…my body is starting to yawn and to stretch. I’m entering into the zone of feeling and enjoyment. Mhmmm, me gusta, que bueno!
4. Make Sound/Express your Pleasure
One of the biggest keys to growing your Pleasure Muscles is to express it with sound. It’s so natural! When we make love, for example, sighs of pleasure naturally escape our mouth. When we enjoy our food, we naturally say, mhmm yummy. Unfortunately, in our society, we are not encouraged to make sounds of pleasure in public. This results in a lot of unexpressed and acknowledged potential for pleasure and even a certain shame around it. So start slow, privately at home or in the car. Think or feel into something that gives you pleasure and allow your body to make the sound. The beauty of it is that it works both ways, the more you make sound the bigger your capacity for pleasure and enjoyment becomes.
5. Learn from the Masters
If you really want to learn about pleasure, be around cats. They are truly the masters. Watch their ability to completely surrender. To give themselves to their pleasure with full abandon and trust. So in order to practice like a cat you need those two qualities also: letting go of guilt and trust. A cat lives guiltfree. She has no problem to receive. No guilt about just sitting in the sun and enjoying. No guilt about demanding attention. A cat is the embodiment of pleasure. No big highs, just being completely herself. Watch and learn.
Unfortunately, as humans, our lives are not as easy as that of cats. Our lives are full of endless demands. Still, it’s up to us what we do with our attention. Since we all have been around the block already often enough, we know we will never get there- that elusive state of perfection, no matter how many holidays and retreats we do. So, we might as well learn how to enjoy ourselves in the midst of our imperfect lives. Simply being willing to open ourselves to receive life’s bounty, the physical sensations of our body, our own breath is the key ingredient to strengthening your Pleasure Muscle and to truly enjoy this human life.
May the Pleasure be with you.
Kasia Patzelt works as an Embodiment Coach and is passionate about integrating our spiritual experiences into the here and now of daily life aka how to be truly heart intelligent. She is a writer on Medium and works one-on-one with people online or on the magic island of Ibiza, where she lives. www.kasiapatzelt.com
Image courtesy of Braydon Anderson.