In just this past module of the Unlock Pleasure Online Program we worked with the topic of “Pleasure as an In the Body Experience.” There are pleasures of the mind to be sure, but even so, that pleasure registers in the body, if we take the time to notice. And noticing is where it’s at!
The Unlock Pleasure program supports people to open to and expand their experience of pleasure. Being aware of and connected to your body, and learning the practice of listening to the intelligence of the body, is essential to the process of pleasure.
We Start with the Senses
We start with noticing the senses. A process that usually goes on quite unconsciously. We take in so much necessary information from our environment and respond to it, but we have little awareness about that information. We respond habitually to it – to sounds, sights, smells, tastes and tactile stimulation. So much of the sensory stimulation around us has become so familiar we don’t notice it.
But in the Unlock Pleasure program I encourage participants to slow down and really notice the environment they live in. I suggest to orientate like an animal in the wild, who’s very life depends on sensory attunement to the world around them. It’s rarely an issue of survival for us humans, but it can contribute to our thriving.
Noticing the Everyday, the Ordinary
I’m talking about the everyday, ordinary, elements of life, stimulation from the world of our day to day life. The list is long – the way the sun pours in a southern window on a late winter afternoon, the shade of the sky at dawn and dusk, the wind rustling through the trees as we walk, the intricacies and subtle texture of the voices around us, the smell and taste of food, the texture of cloth on skin, or the warmth of physical contact, naming just a few. All these, when we tune in and really become aware of them, can bring soothing to our inner experience. They can spur a sense of calm, grounding, and safety.
And that’s just the everyday and ordinary. Recently a book came my way, Embody the Skeleton – A Guide for Conscious Movement by Mark Taylor an expert in the field of mind/body awareness and conscious movement. It’s an intricate guide to our bones – just the bones! It’s full of really interesting information about the bones. Why don’t we know this stuff I wonder, as I read page by page with increased curiosity? And there’s exercises to do on one’s own or with a partner, to tune into the living organism of our bones.
Pleasure in Connection to the Body
One simple exercise involves lacing your fingers between the toes of the opposite foot and moving them around. This movement invites fluidity to the many bones, joints and tissue of the feet. With just a little practice, I am again walking and noticing the subtle and exquisitely brilliant mechanism of my feet walking – I notice them. I say “again” because this kind of awareness comes easily to me when I pay attention, and I often do, and then I fall back into the habitual pattern of unawareness – taking the magic and mystery of my human body for granted. I forget just how pleasurable it is to be that connected to myself.
Embodied Somatic Awareness
There’s a whole discipline called embodied somatic awareness – a catch all phrase for living with attuned awareness in one’s body. And the important thing is that just by practicing this attuned awareness contributes to our health. Research now supports the idea that our bodies like to be paid attention to. They respond well to it. Unless of course we ignore them for a long time – then they will get our attention through pain or more serious symptoms.
And so, such a simple pleasure using breathe, movement, touch, and noticing can be accessed through the body. This is just one small aspect of pleasure as an in the body experience. The next Unlock Pleasure Online Program starts up in the new year. Let me know if you’d like more information about it.
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“Forefront Psychotherapy had Madeline present a morning workshop called Unlock Pleasure for our counselling centre’s open house. Her presentation was innovative and captivating. She brought forward the information in a way that appealed to new and seasoned therapists alike. Her presentation style put the audience at ease and she kept each one of us captivated for the duration of her talk. We would highly recommend Madeline to any group looking for a speaker.”