“Pleasure is the object, duty and the goal of all rational creatures.” Voltaire
- Bathe in your senses
Pleasure is entirely dependent on our physical capacity to experience the world through our senses. We open to pleasure when we become deliberate about learning more about our capacity to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Doing this is easier than you might think: just by adopting the practice of savoring, which will add a few conscious moments to every sensory experience, we start to attend more closely to our sensory experience. For instance, look at colors around you and imagine what it would be like to paint them. Start listening for the subtle noises around you; this will entrain you to hear the quieter voice in your own mind. Take the time to taste each individual ingredient when you cook. Slow down the eating process and linger over a single bite. Smell the air where you are. Try to remember the last time you smelled a summer evening just like this one. Really feel how it is to have a hand trace slowly up your back. Stay longer in a hug and feel the weight of someone leaning into you.
- Take more risks
Our pleasure response gets primed in the spaces we allow ourselves to become more vulnerable. Living on the edge of our own comfort zones is prerequisite to both truly appreciating what you have and opening up to new possibilities. Not knowing what will happen next is edgy and feeds the curiosity about sensation that merges into the pleasure response. This is why predictable sex can so easily become divorced from our pleasure response. Starting small, by taking risks like trying a new kind of food or a new place to grocery shop, will prepare you for sexier changes, like agreeing to be seduced or trying new ways of touching and being touched. Pushing out the edges of your sexual comfort zone will awaken new places of pleasure capacity that you didn’t know you had.
- Be more playful
Our pleasure response is light hearted. As a kid, no one had to teach you how to play. Even the most serious street games of capture the flag were won with just your natural curiosity and eagerness to play. Playing and having fun were second nature, and approaching your pleasure response with this same spirit will free your imagination (read: fantasy life) from the insidious cultural messages of shame and fear surrounding, and sadly smothering, our ability to feel pleasure. The key to rekindling this kind of playful spirit is to reclaim our youthful spontaneity and freedom that came from not worrying about how we were being seen. Sexually speaking, being able to play with abandon, feeling and risking more, sets up the perfect equation where our pleasure response can blossom and pull our erotic selves out of hiding.