How to choose pleasure even when life sucks
Increasingly, I recognize that not only joy, but pleasure in itself, are states of awareness, of presence that function at a higher level of existence. Our brains are wired to focus on the negative; a survival skill, which usually goes under the name of negativity bias. In short, it is absolutely natural to dwell on our fears, worries, judgments and to compare ourselves to others, feeling like we are missing out, a.k.a. FOMO. Tara Brach, a lovely and wise Buddhist mindfulness teacher and psychogist, talks about that we keep being in a trance when we lean forward instead of being here. Which is what I wrote about last week, and that I'm super-duper good at.
The solution lies in getting out of our trance, and to move into a state of presence. It has to be a choice of being here, rather than getting stuck in our minds of wanting to be somewhere else. Tara Brach, in one of her latest talks, quotes a passage from the book The Snow Leopard by Peter Mathieson when we he meets a Lama who is crippled, can't move and hence is stationary in the Himalayan mountains. When he is asked how he can be so happy, being so crippled, living a very small life, he laughs wildly and responds. "Of course I'm happy. It's wonderful. Especially when I have no choice". Peter Mathieson is astonished at the whole-hearted acceptance - and so am I, and it also makes me happy.
Pleasure as a shortcut
Even if we aren't practiced Lamas, we can get there through mindfulness, remembering that we are in a trance. There is also is a shortcut to get out of trance, especially when life sucks: embodied pleasure. More specifically, and now I'm referring to us ladies again, the pleasure point that is located beneath our belt:) (I have a feeling a lot can be applied to men too, but I'm speaking to what I know). Mama Gena speaks and writes about her experience when she was learning the art of pleasure and asked to turn on her pleasure, even when she is not feeling it, as a practice. Which, to her astonishment, she realizes that she can. I'm learning it slowly as well, even though it's so easy to forget to practice it. Here's how I broke out of my trance of blues today:
1. I realized that I had a sleep deficit that was weeks overdue - so I went to bed early, which was a first way of reconnecting and of showing kindness towards myself and my body.
2. This morning I was still a bit sluggish, so before I did my regular practices, I took two minutes stroking her, my jewel, only for the sake of getting out of trance, which helped me remember that I indeed have a body.
3. Then I talked with a friend who is also part of the pleasure club, and the heaviness that comes out of being in trance (being stuck in our minds) dissipated.
Over the day, I recognized that writing helps me out of my trance too, as well as coaching. A wild dance in the living room adds an additional flavor. But it all starts with a recognition that I am stuck in trance - and that I can do something about it.
For women, in particular, we have also been given two other tools that are linked to one another - pleasure - and sisterhood - where the former is always available if we practice it, and the latter is something we can learn how to cultivate.
Sometimes I'm so astonished by this power, the power of the feminine, the power of presence and the power of the jewel - helping us to recognize pleasure, especially when we don't have a choice - that I feel like it should be yelled at from the rooftops, or patented:), or both.
To a highly pleasurable week.
In love and truth,