“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” Alfred Mercier
Learning to feel pleasure begins with cultivating our capacity to experience the world through our senses. Sensuality is really nothing more than connecting to your senses deeply. And it is in the smallest of sensations that this practice comes alive. But often in our day-to-day, we lose touch with the physical sensations of life especially, and most interestingly, when we are in the midst of intense emotions. Yet these are precisely the times when stopping and feeling what is happening in our body is most instructive.
We can begin to pay attention to how sadness feels in our heart, or anxiety in our gut. We can also become aware of the real experience of how anger tastes in our mouth or how our ears ring when we feel betrayed. Trusting our senses in our emotional life is the bridge to experiencing pleasure in our sexual life, and to distinguishing true pleasure from fleeting gratification.
True pleasure is never harmful. This is one of the key teachings about pleasure that helps us distinguish it from activities that end up becoming addictions. The truth is that when we are most enjoying the moments of our lives, we are also growing and evolving into better versions of ourselves. This developmental aspect of pleasure is a clear way to distinguish it from the addictions and compulsions that we often begin in the misguided desire for a hit of pleasure and that can easily come to rule our life. With a closer look, we know that most addictions are not really compatible with the evolving drive for pleasure. More often, they are aligned with our weaker compulsion to escape our feeling life.
True pleasure resets the chemical balances in the brain and body towards centeredness. As we learn to pay more attention to our sensory experience, we simultaneously create some of the most memorable and deeply healing moments in our lives. Unlike addictions, which separate us from the present moment and from ourselves, leaning towards real pleasure heals us on a biochemical level, balancing the powerful neurochemicals that predict our moods and act as natural stress relievers. Many studies document the natural increases in serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins which are generated by a wide range of pleasurable experiences, like listening to music or looking at art.
But nowhere does pleasure translate so immediately into healing our lives as it does in our bedroom. Sexual pleasure-seeking creates positive emotional and mental states as well as a physical release of stress, tension, and even the trauma our bodies store in our cells. Orgasmic pleasure is perhaps the most transformational of all sensory pleasure, because enjoying this ultimate release requires that we release the shame and fear that prevent us from experiencing our bodies in this deeply vibrational capacity. As we surrender our control to the body, it provides a gateway to pure energetic awakening and a brief glimpse of enlightenment. Time and space converge in these deepest of intimate meetings, when we are completely naked and vulnerable inside of someone else’s experience. It all begins by coming to your senses and choosing true healing pleasure, rather than fleeting moments of gratification.