Pleasure is such a loaded word – riddled with associations of guilt and unworthiness and impropriety.
Yet, by definition, pleasure means: a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. So, what’s there to feel bad about, really? It’s a conversation we need to have.
Don’t we all want more pleasure in our lives? I know I do, and I’m willing to bet you do too. Why should we feel bad about that? And why should we be holding out on pleasure until… anything?
The thing is, many of us are going about feeling good in the wrong way. I was until a couple of years ago when I had an experience that changed it all.
Here’s what happened, and here’s why pleasure…
In August 2015 I ventured to Kripalu in Western Massachusetts to participate in a Qoya retreat & teacher training. Over the course of the week our guide & Qoya creator Rochelle Schieck took us on a journey around the sun. We started with Autumn — the serpent, shedding our skin, releasing what’s not serving. Then we moved into Winter — the jaguar, sitting in the darkness, feeling it all and trusting the unknown. Both of these felt so familiar, places I’d been intensively over the previous years.
And then we got to Spring — the hummingbird, joy, lightness, pleasure. And shit, if I wasn’t so freaking uncomfortable all damn day. And the fact that I was uncomfortable on THIS day – the day about joy – really pissed me off. What was wrong with me???
It took me a solid 24 hours of discomfort to realize why I was so miserable. The following morning I woke super early, while it was still dark. I wrote in my journal, drank some tea, walked in the hazy dawn down to the lake where I stood watching the steam rise from the water and just breathed in the beauty.
On my way back to the lodge I took a detour to the labyrinth. I stood at the entrance and set an intention to release what was holding me back from experiencing Joy. As I walked the labyrinth I began to think about all the times that someone important to me had squashed my excitement, diminished my enthusiasm, belittled by dreams, responded with a cold & distant “that’s nice” as I beamed with the possibility of some new opportunity. As I recounted all of these moments in my memory I began to pick up sticks from the path. One after another after another. I remember thinking as I collected them, what am I doing with all of these? But it was a compulsion. I couldn’t stop.
As I approached the center of the labyrinth it became clear: these sticks (now an arm-full) were all the crap I’d been carrying around with me, that were keeping me from experiencing joy. I had carried them into the center of the labyrinth, but I was not going to carry them out with me. I bent down and laid the pile on the ground.
I rose to my feet and looked up to the sky. Just at that moment the clouds parted and the sun peeked up over the mountains. I stood there feeling the warm sun on my face and the freedom created by letting all that go. And I smiled.
Walking out of the labyrinth I let my mind run through all the things in life that were really exciting, all the wonderful experiences I was having and amazing people I was meeting. By the time I reached the exit my heart was beaming. I couldn’t wait to get back to the retreat and see what this next day had in store.
Of course, after Spring comes Summer –– the eagle, expansion, stepping into all that’s possible.
That’s when I realized I’d been going about things all wrong. Over the last couple of years I had been through the fall, released what wasn’t serving me. And I’d sat in the darkness of winter and learned to trust that all was well. But I mistakenly thought that summer, expansion, abundance, possibility came next and that once THAT was accomplished THEN the joy would come.
But Summer never comes before Spring.
Joy and pleasure must always come first.
Then all that is possible can follow.
And that’s why pleasure.
If you’re seeking expansion, opportunity, abundance you absolutely must focus on creating joy and pleasure in your life now. Not someday.
Oprah Winfrey said,
What you focus on expands and when you focus on the goodness in your life,
you create more of it.
So I choose to focus on pleasure, and I invite you to do the same.