A couple of weeks ago I was talking to Steph Lisa Kelly my co-creator of the Stillness & Sensuality course about the word pleasure. We talked about how it’s often almost limited to describing sexual experiences – and yes, sex is a highly pleasurable part of life - but pleasure can be found in many elements if we open up to the sensory and sensual experiences available to us in daily life.
We can make it an active practice to cultivate pleasure – I mean who wouldn’t want that?
In order to cultivate pleasure you need to cultivate presence and embodiment. We experience pleasure through the senses and the senses are accessed via the body in the moment. If you’re stuck in your head not really paying attention you often miss out on enjoyable experiences. Like when you eat while doing a bunch of other things and you’ve hardly noticed the taste of what you ate, or you ride your bicycle only thinking about your to-do's without feeling the soft air on your skin.
It’s not about thinking more about the experience, but it’s about allowing you to immerse yourself fully into the sensual experience.
Here's an invitation to cultivate pleasure through all of your senses.
During the rest of the day let yourself indulge in all the pleasant smells you encounter. If you drink coffee notice the scents as you brew it, if you use essential oils (I personally love orange blossom essential oil) or perfume try consciously sniffing the scent when you put it on and see how it fills you with delight. If you go for a walk smell the flowers, touch a tree and smell its trunk. Notice how pleasurable it is to take in all the scents of nature. As you go to bed smell your own skin – and if you share your bed with someone smell your partner's skin. Indulge yourself in all the scents you enjoy.
Put on a song you like and guide all your awareness to that song – take in the nuances of the song and let yourself respond to what you hear. If you feel like singing along do that and if you feel like movinggo ahead and let your body move as it feels like. If you notice emotions feel them and allow them to be. Notice what it’s like to really listen to a song and let yourself enjoy it fully.
Pick one thing you like to eat. Eat it half as fast as you normally would. Notice the different nuances of taste that appear in your mouth. Feel the texture and the taste. Close your eyes and let yourself enjoy the taste completely.
The next time you go for a walk let your eyes lead you and let them explore all the different colors, shapes and forms that are visible to you. Let them rest and be drawn to anything that pleases them: other people, the flickering light in the few remaining autumn leaves, ornamented windows on a pale pastel building, a smiling face, the color of the sky as the sun is about to set. Open your eyes to all there is to see.
Tune into your own body and skin. A perfect place to start is in the shower. Feel the warm water pour down on your skin and notice how it feels. Take time to rub lotion or oil onto your skin and really pay attention to the sensations. Let yourself feel the texture of your clothes as you get dressed. I personally love the sensation of the fresh air when I step outside for the first time during the day. Take a deep breath as you step outside and let yourself feel the air entering through the nostrils and the sensation on your skin. As you go about the day tune into the temperature and sensation of your skin and body regularly. A good way to do this is by taking a full deep breath and let yourself enjoy it. Stretch gently often to stay connected with your body as well. And if you curl up on the couch while reading a book or something else you enjoy, feel that bodily experience of curling up and snuggling.
A big part of being alive is having a body and letting yourself really inhabit it in order to experience the world moment by moment via your senses. What richness is available to you in each moment when you approach life like that!
I’d love to hear how your practice is unfolding – let me know in the comments below.